Many of us stop (much) learning when we complete formal education and even prior to that much of the learning we do is within very prescribed channels. As a former academic and software developer/data scientist I’ve always been pushed to learn new things; but I think it is an increasingly important thing in general, and in many respects increasingly easy to get started.

Martial Arts

Martial Arts seem to be one of the few group practices in which adults are still expected to learn new techniques and refine older ones. As such it is an good place to start with a couple of caveats:

  • The goals vary, but ultimately martial arts are about learning to fight, not necessarily something ethically aspirational.
  • A lot of martial arts (I won’t name names) place an emphasis on tradition over proven effectiveness. Be skeptical!


While some of us continue playing sports into adulthood, often learning is given a low priority, despite it being a rewarding possibility. It is pretty easy to make a part of your sport via formal coaching, pushing yourself to play against better players, reflecting on your techniques and performance or reading or watching guide materials.


There are many high quality opportunities to learn more about practically anything and often at low (or no) cost. However, these are likely to fail without taking care to make them sustainable and purposeful.

  • Have goals or projects which build upon or require the thing you are learning about.
  • Engage with others in the area. Discuss, or better yet, teach.
  • Don’t over do it: make sure the amount of attention and effort required is managable. Start small. But try to do at least something consistently.
  • Don’t overestimate formal qualifications.