A Hacker’s Journal
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A Hacker’s Journal

Improve your inner Nerd with 地 人 天

What and how we can learn from monks and martial arts

Photo by Kevin on Unsplash

Ever seen a movie or documentary about monks in a monastery performing martial arts? Every time I am impressed by the level of power, precision, consciousness and calmness.

They achieve these levels of expertise through a simple, but effective concept. It is not efficient, because it is 99% hard work and it takes them their whole life.

This sounds painful, but you will understand why it is good and desirable. These people do not stand out, because they wear easy to spot clothing. They stand out, because of their mindset.

The three stages

Photo by Antonio Molinari on Unsplash

1. 地 — Earth

This is where you start. Everyone starts here. You learn the pure basics, not more, but not less. You learn to lay on the ground, stay up, walk, fall onto the ground, repeat! 10000 times. This is not fancy, this is the bare minimum. In martial arts this is the equivalent of the Kyū (級).

2. 人 — Human

After you learned the fundamentals and know them by heart, you can advance. Now you are ready to see the world with different eyes. You know enough to think about the world and reflect. In martial arts this is the equivalent of the Dan (段).

3. 天 — Heaven / Sky

After becoming a master of the art, it is time to become the art itself. Until now you only learned what already existed. You repeated after others. You improved yourself on your own, you can see your reflection, even without a mirror. But the next stage is exponential harder. Try harder!

This is the Chuck Norris tipping point. You reached a point, where you have seen everything. The only way to learn something new, is to create it by yourself. You are improving the art in order to improve yourself. You are the art. In martial arts this is the equivalent of the Sensei (先生).

The recursive concept of teacher teacher

As a Sensei you are able to teach not only students, but also other teachers. This is the final frontier of your art. You will discover new grounds, develop new concepts. The step from a student teacher to a teacher teacher, is like the step from linear problem solving to recursive problem solving.

Master these fields

The art of hacking shows plenty of similarities to martial arts. Of course, it is less physical, but this is also the hardest part. You will not see your own improvement over time as easy as in martial arts. The only way is, that you develop a sense of understanding yourself. This is very important! Your image of yourself. Look into the mirror, see your reflection, every day!


Fourier transform

Be good at math. Nothing more to say. One of the most powerful tools in this universe. Learn how to use it. Use it every day! Find joy in solving hard problems.

Be creative!

Photo by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash

What about creativity versus be creative? The first is a noun. The second is a verb with a predicative adjective. This first is static. The second is dynamic. Be dynamic, do it! It is all about the doing. After creating something new, evaluate and improve!


Photo by Antenna on Unsplash

If we all could master communication, there won’t be a single war anymore. You say something and the other might understand it completely different. Be clear, be precise! But be vague if you want to feed uncertainty and inspiration. Beware, this is dangerous. Speak in front of people, read their faces. Time your words, take them to your lands. Enjoy!

Lead people

Photo by Todd Diemer on Unsplash

You can only lead other people, if you can lead yourself. If you are lost, how shall you show the way? They expect you to be perfect. They expect you to behave well, all the time. They expect you to lead by example. This is hard, it is hard every single day. There is no mercy.

Do not fear

If only one of these fields above scared you a little bit: This was the lesson. Don’t be afraid. Why fear anything? You have learned your lessons, you repeated it 10000 times, you are mastering your art. You are becoming a teacher, discovering the world with your own style. Fuel your inner fire. Teach your inner nerd. Go!