When I teach the beginners’ classes at the Boston Martial Arts Center, one of the models I use for ensuring that a class runs smoothly is called FASTER, which stands for:
- Form: learn the way the technique is supposed to look and work
- Application: learn why the technique works
- Structure: put the form of the technique under duress to fix structural issues
- Timing: practice the technique against a wide variety of targets to learn effective distances and timing
- Execution: practice executing the technique with very narrow windows of opportunity
- Reaction: practice the technique along with rapid decision making under pressure
For example, here’s what the lesson plan for learning a step-through punch looks like:
- Form: We started off doing the exercise in the air, ensuring that we understood the basic form.
- Application: We learned why we would use a step-through punch instead of a shorter punch like a jab.
- Structure: We used soft padded targets to apply pressure to the finishing form of the punch to figure out where our bones were out of alignment.
- Timing: We hit padded targets being held in different positions, different heights, even in motion to improve timing and distance.
- Execution: We hit moving targets that were only available for two seconds in order to learn execution against very small opportunities.
- Reaction: Finally, we learned to hit a target that was approaching us while our training partners shouted at us and walked towards us threateningly, to apply the basic technique under pressure.
What this model of learning does is showcase how a technique functions under all kinds of different conditions and gives a student the ability to prove that the technique works without the associated boredom that often accompanies spending 45 minutes on just one technique. The goal at the end of the class is to have a student who has increased skill and confidence in that particular technique.
When you’re learning any skill, having this kind of deep investigation into the skill is essential. For non-physical skills like learning marketing analytics or social media, the exercises would look different, but you can still see powerful parallels between the martial arts and your business and marketing skills. For example, let’s say you wanted to get better at using Facebook to drive business.
- Form: learn the basic best practices for an effective Facebook post
- Application: learn the different kinds of social posts, such as organic, paid, or earned
- Structure: A/B test the daylights out of your posts until you find the 4 or 5 recipes that work best with your audience
- Timing: post on Facebook with different audiences and different times to learn when audiences want to hear from you
- Execution: learn to post in real-time, crafting messages that resonate in the moment
- Reaction: learn to post and handle negative feedback and social media PR crises
The framework gives you a chance to learn how to use a simple Facebook post under a variety of contexts so that you gain proficiency at it.
The next time you have to teach yourself or someone else how to use a technique in such a way that they learn it and get practical value from it right away, try the FASTER framework.
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Also published on Medium.