The idea is that a person passes through three stages of gaining knowledge:
Shu: In this beginning stage the student follows the teachings of one master precisely. He concentrates on how to do the task, without worrying too much about the underlying theory. If there are multiple variations on how to do the task, he concentrates on just the one way his master teaches him.
Ha: At this point the student begins to branch out. With the basic practices working he now starts to learn the underlying principles and theory behind the technique. He also starts learning from other masters and integrates that learning into his practice.
Ri: Now the student isn't learning from other people, but from his own practice. He creates his own approaches and adapts what he's learned to his own particular circumstances.
- 「守」的階段：Martin 認為學生主要遵循一位導師所教授並務求精確即可。這個階段不用太過探索理論基礎，而是在「如何做 (How to do)」上下功夫；也不要三心二意追求多種方法(論)，專注在導師所要求的主軸，把它做精就是了。
- 「離」的階段：學習者已不全然由他人(導師)所學習而來，更多是從自身的實踐階段過程中，創造出自己所領悟的方法 (論)，並應用在現狀的工作環境中。