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Old 11-23-2011, 02:16 AM   #62
Lee Salzman
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 406
Re: A Primer on Aikido, Aiki and IS

David, I was thinking about what you said about kokoro at the beginning of this thread. This tied back into an article I had read maybe two weeks ago about the wonders of implicit memory.

It gave an example, imagine you are driving a car, now put your hands on the wheel and change lanes.

Okay, the details of the example were slightly foggy, but it was pointing out that what you just did with your hands, under the guidance of your explicit recollection of what you do was actually wrong: you just turned the wheel to one side and relaxed it back, whereas it was claiming what you actually do without realizing is then turn the wheel just as far in the opposite direction, then back. Okay, so I don't have a car to verify the details, just a beaten up cheaply mass-produced bicycle that I soon need to replace, but I got what it meant.

It's not terribly earth-shattering an idea, and I think we all realize it to the point that it is pretty quaint. Your body learned it, it is accessible via an external environmental context, a mnemonic, but if you have to give a conscious recollection of it, you will most likely be unable to just do it without deliberate memorization of the process as it is happening. But then again, it has strange repercussions for body conditioning...

I came to an incidental realization this morning that brought that to a head. Lately in my training I have noticed that the less I self-impose via spatial/thought reasoning in my mind's eye, the less I narrate what I am doing via that process, the better my body would seem to self-organize. I was down to, in essence, a skeleton thought in my head to get my body moving, okay force out there via that body part, force out over there via that body part.

But then I noticed something funny, I got rid of one of the ends. A block in my training I have had related to the mobility of the cervical spine disappeared. It was not that I was trying to impose on it, I was just thinking where I wanted to go, without the how, but I dropped even that. Hmm, maybe there was something wrong with my mentation process, and I just needed to shift that around. So I kept stewing on that during the morning, and then for whatever reason, I dropped both ends, there was nothing left. Or rather, there was still something left, but it was completely below the level of the voice-in-the-head brain, it felt like existing in my body. Like I had to consciously invade every part of my body with my awareness. If I failed to even invade one little place, things would go wrong, but if I focused whatever it was, things started going right again. What the hell was that?

Stranger, when I did this, my body assumed an organization, just even posturally, it clamped down a bit, to something that was much better connected, better able to move and change. After a few minutes, I figured out how to intensify this. It struck me like a cannon ball. This was a mnemonic below the level of my conscious thinking, but still deliberate in a way that is hard to explain. I was feeling my training, nothing more, nothing less. The feeling was exactly that of my practice, but without the mental thought overlay, and reduced to a tingle; it was every pattern I had trained into my body over the past year, with layers peeled off (indeed which I had been told to peel off, but still in the process of figuring how). This was not some mental state that I could have just accessed via a year ago, because there were no underlying patterns to access; it was a superposition of that experience. All the countless movements I have been training, all the improvisation, it had blurred and blended down to one mental mnemonic, that so long as I was that mnemonic, I could access it all, but without thinking about it, and just doing it, at a rate the conscious mind would have been unable to process.

TL;DR Deliberate training of things builds patterns we can later access below the level of heavy-handed conscious thought, but so long as we carry that deliberate shepherding of our bodies outside the training, the actual training can never come out. We must explicitly work towards that.

Last edited by Lee Salzman : 11-23-2011 at 02:29 AM.
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