Shu Ha Ri

In the book Pragmatic thinking and learning, the author while explaining about Dreyfus model introduces the martial arts term Shu Ha Ri to help learn something new and become an expert.

Shu – Copy and imitate exactly like how it is taught. Follow a recipe and practice by just copying. This helps to get introduced to new terms & concepts; imitating something means we are doing it the right way. In this phase it is more important to be right than be original, just like an artist learning brush strokes with various brush tips or a musician trying to play every note in her instrument. The advantage of imitating something is that brain subconsciously develops motor memory for the given task, it will soon proceed to a state where the instincts take over the conscience for the same task.

Ha – As a result of learning by imitation the motor memory could have become strong enough such that the new tasks are performed with less mental energy. This gives rooms to experiment with newer settings, like a new cook trying to tweak the recipe to her needs. Changes from the recipes in smaller increments greatly enhances the visibility of the subject and promotes more deeper understanding. Deliberate practice to understand the shortcomings and great areas will widen the scope of experiments.

Ri – This is the stage where one becomes the master or the practitioner of the art. If the skill involved is non verbal then almost no thinking would be involved in performing a task. Top sportspersons, artists, musicians fall into this place; as mentioned by Malcolm Gladwell in the book Outliers people would have spent considerable time practicing the task to become a master or an outlier.

Keep in mind these simple steps Shu-Ha-Ri when beginning to learn new things. It will help us bring focus to our learning and cut out the fear of failure.

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