Blog Archive

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Solving the Right Problem

I do some test prep tutoring: if you're thinking Kaplan or Princeton review, you've got the right idea, but the wrong company.

Every now and then, I get students who come in with already high scores on the test they want to take, but they want them higher. Occasionally, they want them higher because they didn't get into the schools they wanted to, despite already having a high score on the test in question.

Which begs the question: is the testing score the problem? Or is it something else?

I see this happen in Muay Thai and self-defense training as well (and in the martial arts in general). People can recognize that something isn't working, but they fixate on a solution that isn't necessarily connected to the problem.

One example: I've noticed that a lot of beginning Muay Thai students fixate on speed and power in everything. They want to kick and punch faster and harder, and the general assumption is that if something isn't working, it's because they aren't moving fast enough or hard enough. Most of the time, however, that's not the case. More often, the problem is that the student lacks the timing to know when to strike, or doesn't understand distancing well-enough, or needs to work on feinting and faking...just about anything but speed and power. Continuing to focus on speed and power gets you nowhere (or just gets you some very pissed of sparring partners).

Before you start pouring a bunch of energy into a solution, make sure you're solving the right problem.

1 comment:

Maija said...


One of my light bulb moments training with Sonny was realizing I was never going to be fast enough or powerful enough to avoid a trap that was already set for me to fall into.