Recently a friend of mine asked me to teach him a bit of martial arts, and at one point during that practice he quoted something along the lines of "10, 000 hours of practice makes perfect", which apparently comes from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outliers_(book)
there. As the book mentions, and as I mentioned to my friend, the amount of time spent on training really applies to any field of skill or study, regardless of where you set the meter at, including magic, psionics, qi gong, etc.
So, for the sake of curiosity, I decided to break down the numbers for how long it would take to reach 10,000 hours worth of training in any particular skill in order to match up with that idiom. I'm not sure whether the idiom cares about how good the training is, but I've always been under the assumption that hours spent training are only counted if they're effortful, solid
hours of training.
Let's start off with a well-known training regime in the western world of "martial arts" sports and exercise: 2 hours a day, 3 days a week (Mon, Wed, Fri). I've seen plenty enough dojo's using that kind of schedule, but the exact schedule is kind of moot as we'll see.
2 hours/day * 3 days/week * 52 weeks = 312 hours/year. (or, 6hours/7days*365days=312.86) (Even if we missed a week or added a week due to weird calendar years, that's only 6 hours of difference, which is 1.9% of the total, which makes it mostly moot)
At this rate we can quickly see that it would take just over 3 years to accrue 1,000 hours of practice, which means somewhere around 32 years to accrue 10,000 hours of practice.
That's a looooong time.
Can that be shortened up? Certainly! Let's look at a different training regime, one that's not really realistic for most westerners but would be an ideal training schedule for anyone who doesn't already do it: 8 hours/day, every day. This is more than a standard full time job, since we're including Sundays and Saturdays for a grand total of 56 hours/week.
8 hours/day * 365 days/year = 2920 hours/year.
Wait, what? After all that insane amount of time spent on training and we're still less than a third of the way up to the 10,000 mark? Why, yes, yes we are. It would take 3.42 years of that kind of training in order to reach the 10,000 hours mark.
But that's too excessive for people who are trying to keep down a job, pay their finances, maintain a family, have a social life, or keep other hobbies besides. Surely there's got to be a more realistic training schedule that gets us there faster than 30-40 years, right? Well, how about 2 hours/day, every single day? And then 3 hours/day, every single day. I bet most people would be a lot more willing to try those ones out.
2 hours/day * 365 days/year = 730 hours/year. 10000/730 = 13.7 years of training.
3 hours/day * 365 days/year = 1095 hours/year = 9.13 years of training.
Well, that certainly seems more reasonable. Don't expect too much time spent for other hobbies on top of a job and social life ^_^ But 10-15 years is generally what I've heard quoted from most respectable martial arts sources for how long it should take to reach Black Belt or equivalent status (obviously depending on how many hours/year are put in).
How about 2-3 hours per day, 5 days a week? Of course, you can always do the calculations yourself for whatever training schedule you want.
2*5*52 = 520 hours/year = 19.23 years to reach 10,000 hours.
3*5*52 = 780 hours/year = 12.82 years to do the same.
And that's just on the physical side of things, in the martial arts, which has been practiced in dozens or hundreds of different forms over the past at least 5 thousand years by millions, hundreds of millions, or more people. That's for a discipline which is solidly set out in the world and which many people generally accept as a worthwhile way to spend their time.
Metaphysical pursuits, which have had far fewer people publicly writing about them, while also having do deal with written mistakes and cyphers and purposeful misinformation, and passing along traditions over those same millennium, are not going to be easier
(unless your standards are extremely low). If you're seriously looking at psionics, magic, qi gong, or whatever other practice, consider that you're in this for the long haul.
So settle down, keep practicing, and make "whatever you do" a Part of your life rather than treating it as a quick fad done for some easy results. Good luck and best wishes to all of us in our endeavors!
Mini-update, copied from below so that people don't have to read all the rest of the posts in order to see this one:
And what about individual efforts? For instance, the "I don't fear the 10,000 Kicks you practiced 1 time. I fear the 1 Kick you practiced 10,000 times" expression? How long would it take to do 10,000 kicks?
Well, this past Sunday I decided to do 50 punched with each hand, and 50 kicks with each foot to see how long it would take and if it were feasible. I haven't really trained for the past 10 years, so I wasn't able to do the full 50 kicks with each foot; I only got to 30. But for all four limbs, it took less than 15 minutes to do them all. Obviously there are many skills which require a lot more than the secondish of throwing a punch/kick, to go through a single iteration; this begs the question of "are iterations more important, or is time spent on them more important?" and to that question I don't have a general answer.
But! 10,000 punches. If you did 50/day, it would take 2 days to do 100, 20 days to do 1000, and 200 days to do 10,000. And make sure to stretch, because that's a lot of work for the muscles!
If you wanted to bring it down to 20/day, it would take 5 days to do 100, 50 days to do 1000, and 500 days (1.3 years) to do 10,000.
And, the same as the first post, you can rework those numbers for your own training schedule. And this isn't necessarily "Mastery", by the way. The author of the book in the OP describes the "10,000 Hour Rule" as something to be done to gain success in a field, or something along those lines. So you're not "done" when you hit those 10,000! But realistically speaking, you'll have lost count long before you do reach it, and by that time it will have become so ingrained as a part of your being that you'll just continue doing it naturally anyway ^_^