moving about. learning Chinese, practicing Tai Ji Quan, doing Qi Gong, or simply going out running. resisting the monkey impulses.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Who are those madmen? ... and subconcious development.

When I go to one of my departments for a meeting, I often bump into Peter, who bumps back with his xing yi, or more likely his ba gua. We had a nice meeting room with a bit of space today, so indulged in a bit of three-quarter speed sparring/push hands after the meeting. Hence the what-are-they-doing-mummy noises from new members of the admin team.

Regular readers will know that I'm feeling under the weather, so I deliberately wanted to keep things low key. Peter is much more practiced at his favoured styles than I am with my taiji, so it's usually a struggle for me to properly resist his attacks. And pointless to try and use strength anyway. I found that my being not "up for it" I was better defended. By not resisting (Grrrr!), but calmly moving around (OK then let's see what you do next) and keeping some sort of contact and letting the tactics flow from the form, I was able to maintain more of a viable position. Occasionally I could unsettle Peter's root (bastard keeps walking around!) or plant a token strike or kick. Calmly, as if doing something mundane yet tricky like folding an envelope in a strong wind, rather than fighting as if it were important for life or honour. At present that seems to be the way for me to keep proper attention to root and form over the natural (yet flawed) reflexes associated with someone else invading my space.

This was a great improvement on last time, six weeks ago. It's not that I've been doing masses of tactical work or push hands (though I've done a bit). It's more that the subconcious has been working away, doing its thing: processing little inputs from past lessons, putting pieces together, speeding up transitions, making new connections.

I think this is such an important component of learning, and highly underrated or disregarded by Western teachers in many fields. At the said university department, one of the agenda items has been proposal (not from any of us I should add) to shorten 10-week courses to 5 weeks, but doubling the intensity. There were allegedly some good administrative reasons for this, but the basic premise seems to rest on a false equation. The number of hours formally studying is one parameter, but the number of times the head hits the pillow during a course is another very important one.

Brains have to simmer sometime, they can't always be boiled.

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Blogger Chris said...

Subconcious development, exactly!

There was some research somewhere on this that also validated the phrase "sleep on it", apparently if given a bunch of information we often make better decisions a day or so later than at the time (even if some of the data is lost from our concious mind). Sorry but I can't find the link.

I find this very much when learning Chinese, I do something everyday, but when I find I have had enough I switch entirely to a completly different learning strategy (maybe concentrate entirely on pronounciation for a few days and forget about everything else). I then have a night or two of very heavy dreams, and when I return to what I was doing I find I have made significant progress by 'doing nothing' for a few days.

11:15 PM

Blogger Matt Whyndham said...

Yes Chris, I know exactly what you mean about the language learning there too.

12:00 AM

Anonymous wujimon said...

A buddy of mine says the best thing is to become totally immersed in the subject for optimal saturation... does that make sense, not sure if my grammar is correct ;)

Anyhoo.. I've never delved into one of those week long seminars, but he's says that's the only way to really get something. I got something from those 2 day seminar sessions, so that's good enough for me for now ;)

12:33 AM

Anonymous chessman71 said...

Hope you feel better soon.

I agree about both training intensively and then sleeping on it. Combining both is the way to go IMO. Whether it's learning Chinese or IMA, I've found that intense practice gets you right up to the door. But then resting and relaxing a bit seems to make it reflexive. The intensity and relaxtion work together, but then that means that you really need both. Take care.

7:58 AM

Blogger callum said...

Its the same in music, I find that I struggle with a track and then wake up the next morning able to play it much more easily.

1:08 PM


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