Only after the 10th punch will you see the fist

    Keywords: Life & Death, Shape, Tactics

...and only after the 20th will you block it.

I've never seen this in writing before, but it's something remarkable that I've learned about myself by playing Go. I've found that it applies to many, many other people too.

My opponent will punish me with the same devastating blow over and over and over and over and over and over and over again before I even begin to recognize the tesuji or method of her attack. As I progress up the ranking ladder, this becomes more and more accurate, as the strategies and tesuji used become more sophisticated and complex.

But seeing the fist approaching is only half of the story. Once I realize what my opponent is doing, I will continue to stand there and take the abuse -- over and over and over and over and over -- before I consider the possibility of playing differently.

An example from my first games:

The Fist  

The black stone is dead (as is obvious to those of us 25k and up). But for a few weeks I would habitually extend to a in the vain hope that my opponent would not capture the stone (see WouldntItBeNice). Eventually I wised up and learned to let this stone go, but it took many, many punches before I learned my lesson.

-- Scartol

Tamsin: Don't worry. IIRC, according to Rob Van Zeijst it usually takes about 20 repetitions before you get a mistake out of your system, anyway. Repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition,'s the only guaranteed way to learn, IMHO.

Charles Watch out, Tamsin - think the brain damage is showing ... How about understanding?

Tamsin: I hope that you're being humorous Charles and not trying to imply that I am cracked or something.

Charles Yes, allusion to boxing, really.

Tamsin: Ah. I wasn't thinking about the title literally, but more about the underlying theme of repetition. Maybe I am bairn-damanged, after all, not to get that one straightaway. Seriously: in my experience, which is all I have to go on, I find simple repetition is the most guaranteed method for learning patterns while variegated repetition (i.e., looking at something from all angles) is the best for improving understanding. I agree with Van Zeijst's comments about needing to make a mistake about 20 times - it took me about that long to get out of the habit of making the long monkey jump automatically instead of considering the merits of playing the small monkey jump, for example.

(jpduke? `bairn-damanged' ! Is this akin to 'pregnant brain'..? Or just having been hit over the head with a toy once too often?)

HolIgor: The phases

  • obscurity
  • distinction
  • understanding
  • confirmation
  • verification
  • practical use

The longest is the phase of obscurity. It can take ages till you start to recognize that something is wrong, for example.

mAsterdam: ... and after 21 punches you also start making those fists. Imitation is underrated. I mean imitation without understanding. Recognizing patterns where certain moves have a favourable effect and making those moves comes before understanding - if the understanding comes at all. Knowing some variations is often mistaken for "understanding", like knowing how to respond to recognizable situations. Do we really understand how we walk? I don't think so. We walk, anyway.

Only after the 10th punch will you see the fist last edited by on November 29, 2009 - 21:17
RecentChanges · StartingPoints · About
Edit page ·Search · Related · Page info · Latest diff
[Welcome to Sensei's Library!]
Search position
Page history
Latest page diff
Partner sites:
Go Teaching Ladder
Login / Prefs
Sensei's Library