Shu Ha Ri

At the heart of it, mastery is practice. Mastery is staying on the path.”

~ George Leonard

Every expert is once a beginner, but not every beginner will become an expert. 

There are ways to accelerate learning, but there is no shortcut to mastery.  The good news is that the path to mastery is no mystery.  It typically follows three stages.

Beginner- intermediate-advanced, learn-do-teach, imitate-assimilate-innovate, or in the tradition of Japanese martial art, shu-ha-ri (守破離).


In shu (守), we begin by learning the fundamentals, follow the instructions of the masters, imitate their form and styles, and build a strong foundation of knowledge and skills.

In ha (破), we put the knowledge and skills into diligent and deliberate practice, deepen our appreciation of underlying principles, and are ready to challenge the convention, break away from what we were taught, and improvise.

In ri (離), we transcend the form, innovate freely from the essence, and be one with the craft.

The path to mastery begins with learning the fundamentals, followed by patience, practice, and practice.

“Excellence is not an art. It is the habit of practice.”



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