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Old 12-04-2005, 07:30 PM   #3
Dojo: Seattle Ki Society
Location: Seattle
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 522
Re: Poll: How helpful are verbal instructions in learning aikido for you?

It seems fashionable to downplay the role of words in learning a kinesthetic skill, but I'm very much a verbal learner. Words and practice together lead to learning for me. Practice without a certain amout of words leads to some memorized patterns, but not much knowledge.

I was carefully taught, and practiced extensively for testing, a style of shihonage in which nage turns around on deeply bent knees rather than taking additional steps. It was an exasperating technique but I got middling competent at it. One day a junior instructor said offhandedly, "You're corkscrewing yourself into the ground to lower your center." I thought about that, I practiced some more to see if he was right, and then one night saw how to apply it to a totally different technique. That, for me, is the transition between sort-of knowing and really knowing; and it came from words combined with practice, not from practice alone. Would I have figured it out without words? Maybe, eventually. But there is so much to learn that it's hard to wait for "eventually."

Mary Kaye
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