Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Stimulus Response

'Catching a ball is a stimulus-oriented response and not a motor one . In other words one that has been thought out . The conscious mind is simply incapable of organizing such a complex motor event. You can provide the stimuli to catch a ball but you cant consciously organize those motor events by which to catch it. That's why it is far more important to know what you have to do than how to do it .' - Steve Morris
The body possesses an intelligence that is innate. At the bottom of this post is a link to a pdf about 'Biological Motion' for those that are interested, it's a fascinating paper about the skills we are all born with.
So how this relates to training is this - Giving the body a problem, and some physical cues to copy if it can't work out a solution - the 'Mirroring' concept - and working from there is a faster and more efficient way of ingraining suitable responses that rote learning without the stimulus.  Kinda 'Don't get hit' as opposed to 'Step left as I cut down, bring the sword hilt to you hip and make a small arc as you catch the weapon'.
Now maybe the most efficient way to deal with this particular cut is as described above ... but what if it's now slightly different in angle or timing? Perhaps with your feet in a different orientation and the start point of your weapon elsewhere ..? Do you teach more individual solutions ... or just stay with 'Don't get hit'?
Now you may be thinking that there are many different ways to 'not get hit' - absolutely true. And that some are more appropriate at certain times than others depending on what might happen next .... true again. So as you flow add the next thing as a stimulus/problem to solve - "Well that would work, except now you are really open over here, so how do you fix that"? (This sentence is a physical question not a verbal one). The problems keep coming as one thing always leads to the next ......
In case you were wondering, the conscious mind does have a part, but gets added later as an observer almost, until it can keep up with what's going on and choose different courses of action i.e. tactical decision making. Like driving where you are not paying attention to the physical movements of your arms and legs, but deciding which route to take to your destination.
Sonny never explained his concept in this way, but essentially that is what he was doing when he started teaching random flow. He created a format in which to present 'problems' and have the student 'solve' them. The key of course was to calibrate the problems to the student, always seeking to work at the edge of their potential, and at a pace where the conscious mind couldn't .... 'interfere'.
That's a real skill, and one of the ways that Sonny connected his fighting ability to his teaching ability - He spent every day he worked out testing people, watching them, leading them, setting them up and seeing what came out. After workouts he would watch tapes of what happened - he could rarely consciously repeat sequences of movements in class, which was frustrating to those of us who asked 'What did you just do"?? 
But in the end it was better because he would always answer, "Let's go again and see if it happens" .... which then meant you were now paying attention to the lead up to what might happen next, and if you were lucky could find what you were looking for directly from a problem solving context. The body would be engaged in the doing, the mind in the watching.
The fact that Sonny could calibrate his movement to each student was a huge gift to us of course, but ultimately meant he was also constantly in problem solving mode - solving how to get the student to 'see', and at the same time handicapping himself in speed and opportunity to match the student, improving his fighting skills and ability to get out of tight corners later, slower, and with the least movement possible.

1 comment:

Josh Kruschke said...

That hurt my brain to read that paper.

Why do 'scientists' feel the need to make things more complicated than they need to be.

1. We recognize patterns.
2. We know what the full range of motions are for the human body, because we understand what we can do with ourown bodies.
3. We can recognize when something is out side the normal range of motion.
4. We can project into the future and know what is possible given a starting location.

I'm probable missing somethings form the paper because I stop reading halfway through. He seems to me to be stating some pretty common since things in complex language.

Do I need a scientist to confirm what I can observe myself?