Quality Speed Trade-off, or Skill Deficit?

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I’ve had the privilege of observing He Jinbao, a martial arts master. He doesn’t hurry. Maybe we shouldn’t either.

My T’ai Chi instructor, Richard Miller, studies Yin Style Bagua, a Chinese martial art. I joined the Bagua class for a while, and had the chance to take a weekend course with He Jinbao, the current lineage carrier for the art.

Jinbao is built like a linebacker. He is not a small man at all. He is solid as a rock. If you press your finger against his relaxed bicep, you might as well be touching a tree or a stone.

Jinbao is incredibly fast. Yet, as you watch him work, he never seems to be in a hurry. It’s just that one moment he is standing relaxed in one position, and in the next moment he is standing relaxed in another position, and some one or few people are on the ground around him.

I have seen him throw someone across the room … and not hurt them. I have seen him invite someone to press their fists against his belly as hard as they can, which moves him not at all. Then, I have seen him throw the individual backward just by thrusting his belly.

He Jinbao can get most any job done, in his line of work, without hurrying. He knows his work so well that he never has to move away from good form to get something done.

I suggest that there is a general rule here. The better we are at what we do, the less frequently we have to cut corners in order to go fast.

Let’s turn that around in our minds. If we need to cut quality to go fast, let’s consider taking that as a sign that we have room to improve, not that we have found a place where quality isn’t as important as speed.

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