Transfer of Learning

You can get better at something by learning seemingly unrelated disciplines.

Transfer of learning is a fascinating concept that really shows the power of the human brain as a pattern recognition and problem solving machine. When we encounter new and novel situations, we can “transfer” lessons learned from previous experience to solve the new problem.

Transfer of learning explains why mental models are effective: they’re all about identifying patterns and recognizing them in the future, which results in faster and higher quality decision-making.

On episode 92 of BJJ Mental Models, Jon Thomas specifically discusses transfer learning as a tool for learning. His recommendation was that if you’re looking to improve one aspect of your game, sometimes the best tactic is to switch focus to a completely different aspect. There are diminishing returns to training the same thing over and over again…and sometimes the biggest gains come from exploring new concepts and learning how they relate to what you’ve already learned.

Interestingly, a related concept, transfer learning, is observed in machine learning research. Artificially intelligent systems leveraging machine learning can apply knowledge gained from solving one problem to a different but related problem.

On the podcast:

Further study: