Here is something I pondered a bit about during the Holidays. Maybe it is primarily for the ones of you who are coaching or teaching, but I do think it is of value for everyone. Perhaps this was highlighted right now because I am in a process working with pre-school teachers, human physical and emotional development and children. And today the trend is to treat children as small adults, robbing them on their human right of development as set out by evolution. If we do not grasp this, I think we should be ashamed.
Basically I think it is important (as adults) that we are aware of why we are doing something, and what we do to sort out how we are doing it. Else we are just useful idiots spending energy and time on something that is of no use to anyone.
Perhaps the need to problematize these issues comes out of a – quite new – way of dealing with reality. Humans have very fast become a predominant cerebral being. Things that are essentially material and physical by nature, have become audio-visual activities that activates us cerebrally, but not in a sensory, embodied way anymore. This easily leads us to the idea that what we see other s do (ususally on digital media) is what we believe we want to be able to do. But we are not willing to seriously commit to the path leading towards those specific abilities we seem to long for.
The trick to get there is to engage in what you want to learn. The distractions that hinder people are strange today. Before I start what I would like to endeavor upon, I will first get stronger, reduce weight, gain more energy, learn more intellectually….and bla bla bla. You know, those will be the excuses that stops you from what you actually want.
What if eagles, foxes or deer would reason like this. “Nah…can´t hunt today mate! Need to work on my stamina first ya know…” or “Oh deer!….no I cannot go out in the open looking like this. What will others think?! I will start my diet tomorrow. Seriously, I will!”
Education – Learning – Mastering
Having once moved on from a basic level, there is also a very common stress-related behavior in focusing on learning new things all the time.
That is a given road away from true quality. You will lack depth in your teachings because it does not come from the right place. Namely You.
This usually originates from a need of confirmation, or illusive need of authority or sometimes a distraction from something that in reality needs attention for possible change.
The point here is to work with what you have and already know. Do not wait until you gain more knowledge or certificates. In that way you will never truly own what you are performing or trying to teach others, it will merely be a copy of someone else’s instructions or ideas. The key here is “reflection”, and understanding you already have what it takes to carry on.
I am not against education, but most people I encountered throughout 30 years show a common discrepancy. If all those diplomas on the wall were interpreted into actual skill, they would be world champions in what they do. Continuous education and new courses are not a solution, it is a distraction from realization and stops you from tapping into your true capacity.
Time is limited – be aware of how you invest it.
We truly are a confused species at this point in time.
One solution to this, is to engage in something real.
Like moving your body in a way that makes it evolutionary happy!
Optimally together with others, we do need a tribe to belong to.
Human movement, movement quality & performance
Humans are bipedal. I have walked a million steps in my life, still that don´t make me an expert walker. Just mere repetition is not the trick.
“Practice does not make perfect – practice makes permanent”. Practice makes routines out of something that is strange or other to us initially.
Since I have been practicing and taught Martial Arts and Tai Chi Chuan for + 30 years by now, I will use that foundation as example, but it holds true for any area in which you succeed and master a skill.
Tai Chi Chuan is primarily a central nervous system dominant activity. It is a way of sorting out and refining the way (how and with what quality) you are carrying out certain actions, or non-actions. It is less to do with the muscles but more to do with the brain (sympathic/parasympathic) telling the body to exert maximum force behind a technique or relaxing under a grip. It is a twofold path where high sensitivity carries correct information to the brain, and the brain responds with the right quality and amount.
The implication of this, is that when/if the nervous system is busy with a lot of white noise (unnecessary and unimportant external/internal sensory/emotional stimuli/stress) it is difficult, yes – impossible to function and respond to the outside world in an optimal way.
It is important to realize this when practicing movements, whether it is Evotraining, martial arts or a sport activity.
Development of the central nervous system is ALL about motor learning – not structural reconstruction. This phase is NOT about bigger muscle or tissue robustness. That should be sorted out with conditioning. The point is about quality not quantity.
In Tai Chi Chuan this could, in a simple way, be translated as learing to use the body you have (muscles, bones, connective tissue, fat, skin, biogenome etc.) to do Tai Chi Chuan optimally.
Or in Evotraining – same prerequisites to move over an obstacle, crawl under a fallen tree, move silently in nature, flee from something dangerous – in an optimal way. ”Optimal” is usually related to the outcome. But one factor is effectiveness. That means to spend as little energy as possible, yet having a desired outcome. This is were training focssed primarily och calory counting or intensity fails. Wherever the central nervous system in concerened frequenzy rules. Not volume.
For motor learning to occur in an efficient and successful manner, repetition and practice are necessary to get better.
However – and this is very familiar to the Evotrainers out there – the quality not the quantity of the practice is the key. If activity leads to monotony and reducing motivation, learning will suffer.
Performance training requires variation and variability for motor learning and improvements in strength coordination to be successful. While there are some truth in it, the predominant 10 000 hours or repetition mindset has led to a generation of athletes simply performing closed movement chains, and repetitive drills without improvement. The crux is that drills can build skills, but if you stay within the “drill-box” they will not automatically improve your free performance. To apply, you NEED to play!
In turn this failure leads to a negative experience and opinion on technical drilling, and a shift towards more and more strength training to mask over poor technical modelling and performance.
This has a detrimental impact in itself and I am not a fan of “the gym whiteboard syndrome” dominating some sport- and wellness paradigms.
It is as simple as this – what you train is what you will be good at. It is easy to mistake the branches for the root and inverse the correct order of quality work.
Gym work these days is used to negate poor technique as opposed to support it. Keeping on repeating a skill without any variability, especially overloading it – I am sure this will ultimately lead to failure in learning a new skill.
Movements must have a degree of freedom to promote learning and progression. To put it different – there must be levels of chaos or space for the central nervous system to self-organize movement, to reach a certain goal.
The common modern mantra – “perfect practice makes perfect performance” is not realistic. In reality though, movement is improved not by exploring its core (perfect technique), but by exploring its limits (where quality breaks down). There are to many young football players only training on playing football.
Monotony over time always results in problems/injuries. We do not want to be fragile. But actually not only robust either. We want to become anti-fragile. That capacaty not only endures stress. It becomes stronger and better by it.
The implication is that play – in any form – because of its unpredictable yet “low-risk-of-injury” nature serves as the perfect context to develop skill and quality.
The same is true of nature. Because of its unpredictability – we train our skill in adaptation and meet the boundaries in our own movement quality there.
So. Let´s go out and play!