“Can you teach what you don’t understand?,” by Serpentstaff

“I was put in mind of this question when I read some comments a colleague had made about board-breaking. Breaking boards is unquestionably an exercise in physics. But my colleague, through his remarks, revealed that he didn’t quite understand the physics involved. Now, he is an excellent martial artist and a fine instructor. Furthermore, if students followed the practical instructions he was stressing at the time, they’d probably be helped in their chances of breaking their boards. The only problem would come if they relied on his underlying explanation when taking a physics test. And if they were taking a physics test, they would most likely have already figured out his mistake… No harm done?”

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  1. What type of wood are those boards? All I know is it’s somewhere between balsa and petrified.

  2. Nice post. You would agree that displays, such as ability to break through boards, while impressive and may even be desired goals in karate and other martial arts, hardly merits a second look in aikido. Those displays are ego-centered; aikido is self-effacing.

  3. I guess in a similiar vein, do you have to know how an engine works to drive a car? I’m not a mechanic or an engineer, but I have a pretty good driving record. The knowing helps us understand and, hopefully, appreciate more whatever it is that we are doing. We can enjoy a gourmet meal without being chefs, but knowing how it was prepared allows me to further appreciate the efforts involved by the cook. More understanding is always beneficial.
    Thanks for listening.

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