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No Shortcuts To Success – Guest Post by Eric Nishio

This is a guest post from Eric Nishio from Self-learner.com. Eric’s a good guy and his Twitter avatar has lustrous hair. Enjoy!

by Eric Nishio

You’ve probably seen many advertisements promoting self-defense courses that supposedly teach you how to defend yourself in an assault. We’re talking about intensive weekend courses, beginner’s courses, and so forth. While they certainly are benevolent services for people, I am quite skeptical about their efficacy.

You see, self-defense isn’t as simple as learning a few tricks and techniques that you can apply whenever the need arises. Learning how to defend yourself or how to fight needs to become part of you. It’s both a physical and an internal process that needs to be incorporated into your life if you want to be capable of successfully using it.

It’s all about preparation

How do the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighters acquire their trophies and belts? Can it happen just by learning a handful of techniques over a single weekend? Or even over a period of many years? While the techniques definitely are important and you wouldn’t be able to succeed without them, every fighter needs to develop him or herself physically as well as mentally to face a variety of combat situations.

“Education is the ability to meet life’s situations.”

Dr. John G. Hibben, Former President of Princeton University (quoted from How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie)

Any skill in the world

I think there’s a lot of truth and wisdom in that statement. And it can be applied to any skill in the world. I’m only talking about it from the standpoint of a martial artist, because I think there’s a lot of truth and reality in combat since it’s usually about two people facing off and only one of them prevailing. I’ve been studying martial arts for over ten years, and what I think it ultimately comes down to is preparation.

In a UFC arena, the winner is often the one who has better prepared for the fight. He has learned to apply the basic techniques of his fighting style. He has conditioned his body to withstand as much strain as possible. He has trained his body to endure the lengthy battles and not run out of steam.

He has trained himself to deliver the deadliest blows with minimum effort. He has fought with many opponents and gained valuable experience from every loss.

He has learned the common physical reactions of other fighters, and knows how to exploit them to his advantage. He has conditioned his mind to stay focused in combat at all times. He has gotten used to the tumults of the battlefield, and has learned how to relax and be comfortable with constant change.

And there are still blunders

There are so many factors that, when combined, lead to success in the battlefield. And even the top fighters in the world, who have dedicated their lives to becoming champions, are not free from blunders. But the thousands of hours of effective training under their belt are what fundamentally define them as superior in relation to those with inferior fighting skills.

Try not to believe in shortcuts leading to success

The fighting arts may not be the topic of most interest to you. I must apologize. But the same principles are directly applicable to any other skill or ability. I am a college student, and I have noticed that no student would be able to become a proficient IT expert if they depended solely on what their school has to offer.

That’s also what one of our teachers told us, “If you want to learn how to properly use Linux, install it on your computer and start using it.” There’s no better way of learning a skill than to just do it consistently.

Intensive self-defense courses, yoga courses, Linux courses, Java programming courses—they’re all just introductions that lead the students to the depths of knowledge within. If you want to become an expert at something, you should invest a lot of time in it and commit yourself to achieving the proficiency levels that you’re looking for.

Good luck! To your many successes.

(I would also be grateful to hear your tips and views on how we are able to gain expertise and become more successful. Thanks!)

About the Author:

Eric Nishio writes about self-education on his blog Self-Learner. He wants to help people to realize that practical skills and success are best learned by yourself.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • XMenZ February 19, 2010, 12:51 am

    The pointers in this post have really helped, bless you

  • Jason February 19, 2010, 2:39 am

    One of my favorite takes on expertise is Kathy Sierra’s blog post here:


    Most people realize you have to put the hours in, but it also matters how you spend those hours:

    “That dedication to mastery drives the potential expert to focus on the most subtle aspects of performance, and to never be satisfied. There is always more to improve on, and they’re willing to work on the less fun stuff.”

    If you don’t put the time in to the areas that are most needed, you won’t improve as quickly as someone who does.

    • David February 19, 2010, 5:29 pm

      Exactly, Jason.

      “…t it also matters how you spend those hours” reminds me of the old saying (okay, old to me anyway), “Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect.”

      Spend the hours, but spend them properly to attain your goal.

  • Christopher Kabamba February 19, 2010, 6:00 am

    Just what i have always thought!

    I love your teacher’s advice on how one can learn how to properly use Linux: “install it on your computer and start using it.” 🙂

    It can’t get any simpler can it? I wonder why we don’t get it… Obsession to quick-fixes i think… 🙂

    Thanks for your post.

  • Daniel O'Connor February 19, 2010, 9:24 am


    Great points.
    Discipline is freedom. Make a thousand cuts to begin to know your blade. Build you mind/body/spirit connections.

    While watching Avatar (I liked it by the way) I wondered-
    Would that really work? Is our skill more than what resides in our brain? Is our mind only our brain our is it in every cell of our body and the brain is only the facilitator?

    My opinion-No it would not work. Put a champion figure skaters brain in a body perfectly made for skating and he would fall on the ice. He would have to learn again.

    Good Job

  • Srinivas Rao February 19, 2010, 10:04 am

    Well said Eric. Even in Outliers Malcom Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hours rule for all the people who have been massively successful at what they do. The problem is we live in a world of instant gratification where people are always wanting the fastest and shortest path to success. Yet, they don’t realize that it is not a short path, that it does take time.

  • Eric Nishio February 19, 2010, 1:58 pm

    @XMenZ Cheers!

    @Jason There’s a lot of truth in that post. Thanks. Although I do believe in talent, there’s almost always a way to gain expertise through dedication and hard work. We just have to decide what it is that we want to pursue, and allocate our time accordingly.

    @Christopher Kabamba You’re right, it actually is pretty simple 🙂 Installing Linux is the first step. Next we just need long-term commitment to keep ourselves immersed in the Linux world.

    @Daniel O’Connor That is an interesting question. I’ve started to believe that the more proficient we get, the less we have to use our brains. We become one with the skill, so to speak (it’s a cliché, I know).

    @Srinivas Rao Gladwell has some amazing statistics on skills. While some of the conclusions in Outliers can sound rather discouraging, they communicate that mastery doesn’t happen overnight, or after an intensive weekend seminar, as some would expect.

    Thank you for the constructive feedback, everyone!