The 5 day bootcamp

What is a bootcamp and why 5 days? Let me explain.

In the modern society an overwhelming number of institutions offer something they call a “magic pill”. People want great results, with little or no work and they want them now. There are magic pills for dieting, working out, getting various degrees online. Recently a number of TV shows had become popular where an individual dives deep head first into a tough training environment and prevails in the end at mastering a particular craft. Examples of such TV shows are Human Weapon and Fight Quest, where in each episode two rookie fighters visit a particular dojo, learn a new martial art over the course of 5 days and, on the final day, face the dojo’s most fierce students in a climactic sparring match. “What takes others years to master, I tackle in days” says Tim Ferriss, author of the four-hour work week. And he goes on to learn and prevail in the ancient Japanese art of Yabusame, horseback archery going full speed, in 5 days. Why is the period of 5 days so popular? Is it because the average viewer can maintain interest for a craft for no more than 5 days, hence it pleases the viewer to see such a magic pill, such intense training, in action? And how does it make feel the students of the dojo when the heroes of the TV show leave and continue with their tour? They bite their lips in frustration and say, “Those rookies learned in 5 days what I’ve been learning for years.” Or do they?

Before we answer these questions, let’s ask an even more profound question. Is it possible to master a craft in only 5 days if subject to a training of sufficient intensity? Short answer is no. Slightly longer answer is the student can learn enough for a short, flashy demonstration, like the sparring matches in the TV show “Fight Quest”. But they will not get to the heart of the matter. Everything depends on the student and the system of training. The student, of course, will not learn everything the master knows, no matter how quick or smart they are. 5 days is simply too short a period of time. However, certain hacks can be implemented to make the best use of the 5 days the student is training.

First and foremost, the basics need to be addressed in order and in timely fashion. Although being thrown in the deep end is always better than a beginner environment, the human brain is simply shocked for the first little while, trying to sort out the immense amount of input the person receives. New moves, new stances, new hand positions. If everything is unloaded on the student at once, they are overwhelmed and the learning is, hence, hindered. It will take a substantial time, probably more than 5 days to absorb and assimilate all the information. And even when they do, the resulting structure and internal classification may not very well be optimal yielding an efficient brain map. The human brain is an incredibly lazy organ and it always seeks ways to optimize and habituate all the different routines. So if, wailing arms, while executing a kick, helps with stability in the short run, if allowed to assimilate on its own, this bad habit will stay this way for many years, until the master corrects it. By that time, of course the bad habit sits too deep in the brain and to eradicate is much harder and consumes much more time and effort.

Therefore, if time is a crucial factor, the knowledge has to be fed in reasonable quantities in a very systematic nature, brick by brick, building a house. Being introduced to too much information at once, simply forces the brain to construct a rash and often incorrect neural mapping.

However, and this aspect of training comes to much aid for those who seek results in the short run, the brain has the ability to get into state. That means, that once the training has begun, the person will experience more and more ease adapting to individual aspects of the craft, that is, if they are close in nature. Thus dancers, keep dancing more and easier, karate practitioners kick more and feel that learning a new sort of kick is easier.

Thus in the short run the student might experience a temporary state of mastery and proficiency in the craft. This effect, however, does not last, if they stop training. After the 5 days, had the student waited a month, they forget everything. Not to mention that the deeper benefits of long-term training such as cultivation of patience, a trait useful in every day life and business, are completely neglected.

However training is better when intense and diverse from time to time. Diversity helps to widen the perspective. Intensity helps to push the limits of the human body and mind. But one must not forget to review the core concepts, to strengthen the bricks of the house that lies within.

The 5 day bootcamp period is popular because people want to see instant results in a short period of time. However, no, the masters and older students will not scoul at the rookies that walked into their dojo and learned everything in 5 days. Because they know that is simply not possible.


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