Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Maze

Humans are extremely adaptable - that's what they DO, and have done for millennia, in the constant quest to stay alive and keep ahead of the competition.

Our senses are constantly on the look out for changes in our environment that require our adapting to them, and in fact can become blind if there is nothing going on.
For instance the eyes have a built in mechanism that make them naturally flicker away from staring at an object. They have to move away from it for microseconds at a time and back again just so they can KEEP seeing it.

So what does this mean for learning? Could this natural, physical ability, that links our senses to our nervous system, put information and smart reactions into our bodies more efficiently than routing those reactions through the conscious mind?

Do a prearranged technique with a partner and one of two things will happen if you repeat it a over and over .... Your opponent will either keep letting you do it with no resistance, kinda playing dead, or they will start to make it more difficult, sometimes on purpose, but most often without any thought whatsoever - They will start to resist a little more, make themselves harder to move, move their center slightly, block your strike, grab you tighter, shift off line etc. All the things they probably should do in fact (but to a greater extent) to negate your technique.

Humans are tricky, it is what comes naturally.

Though this is irritating in a traditional class where you are expected to behave in the same way over and over again to perfect the technique you are working on, it indicates a truth that I believe can be used to improve how we learn.

If we accept that human beings will react to stimuli through their senses, and they will adapt these reactions over time to their own advantage, perhaps this is the best 'gate' through which to ingrain skills?

We seem to learn deepest, and perhaps fastest, in my opinion, by having things either work or not, and will find the best ideas through trial and error, by not knowing, trying, failing and succeeding. ESPECIALLY in the physical world of dueling where success and failure are pretty easy to distinguish (unless of course you are delusional/lying to yourself, but that's another thing ...).

And those solutions will live in a completely different place in your brain than those learned by rote.

It seems once you name solutions, and teach from the name forwards, the process starts to go through the conscious mind, not through the body, and that kind of knowledge is not as immediate, or retrievable in the same way as reactive 'body' knowledge'.

Of course we might not have the imagination to find some reactions, and many more are counter intuitive, so need to be pointed out by someone else.
It is important, however, that even those counter intuitive reactions that come from outside, are best ingrained by having them accessed in context - from a feeling of being cornered, and experimenting until the way out is found. This way they will feel worthy of retaining.

The end product should be immediate, thoughtless, adaptive, reactions.

Train the 'immediacy' through the adaptive, and these skills might have a far greater chance of actually manifesting in other situations that require immediacy and adaption on the fly - like dueling.
Nothing like previous success to prompt using a given idea ... or failure to pass it up for another one ....

This kind of training implies having no script, no map. It implies training amongst problems that require solutions, and chaining these together in the way to create a path through an ever changing maze that has only a few ways out.

The maze itself needs to be a close representation of the real thing, or else the reactions that are trained could be inappropriate. So it requires a teacher that knows the maze, and knows how to create dead ends, how to shift the walls, and show the possible exits as they appear and disappear.

It also requires a student that is willing to try, to explore, to fail, and to use their imagination outside their experience.

One that trusts that they possess an innate natural ability to adapt, and that this ability can be cultivated until it too can see the maze ..... not to describe it or name it, but to CREATE it for whoever they wish to play with next - adversary, or student.

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