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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Philosophy » You Must Earn What You Learn

You Must Earn What You Learn

As I progress in the Art of Kenpo and continue teaching, I’m developing a renewed appreciation for the Kenpo philosophy “You Must Earn What You Learn”. It’s not like it’s a hard concept to grasp. The first reading, easy interpretation is you have to pay for the knowledge given to you with sweat and hard work.

Teaching Delayed Sword at Bowley Kenpo Karate

Teaching Delayed Sword at Bowley Kenpo Karate

Sure an instructor can show you how to do a technique and explain in what situation it’s used for. But until you practice the maneuver over and over and until you develop the muscle memory necessary to do it on instinct, you don’t own it. You may have the knowledge in the head, but it hasn’t spread throughout your whole being. It takes a crazy amount of practice to turn knowledge into instinct.

Now I understand though you have to earn the knowledge beyond just practicing the moves if you want to be a teacher. You have to know why the technique works. How to adapt the application to different situations. And how to explain all of it to students at different experience levels. Once you can do that, then you’ve earned the knowledge and finally own it.

The reason this particular Kenpo saying has been on my mind recently is the students at our school have started asking questions I don’t know the answers to.  Questions I never thought to ask when I was learning the curriculum the first time around.  Not knowing the answer is fine.  The support system in place to help find the answers is top notch. (Hat tip to my instructor Damian Wilson).  But the situation illustrates how much knowledge is necessary to feed the minds of inquisitive students.

Now I see two stages of earning the knowledge.  The first time is to be able to perform the move, technique, form, etc in a life situation if need be.  The second time in order to articulate and educate those who look up to us for training.  Earning what you learn is a constant process that doesn’t stop just because of rank.  Whether it be Kenpo or any life passion, this is the way it should be too.

Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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