Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Muscle Memory and Martial Arts

A friend asked if trying to learn the Yang form in one day undercut the value of muscle memory in martial arts. The idea of course is that muscle memory helps you execute the moves with greater speed, power and precision than if you were untrained in the art.

Yes. Muscle memory is great, but in my opinion, only if you've understood the applications of the moves you're practicing. Without knowing the goal of a punch, how can one make an "informed" movement? It'd be like giving an alien a hammer and asking them to learn how to use it but never informing them what the hammer is used for... Is it art? Is it a weapon? Is it a shifter for a car transmission?

What complicates things even more is that my interpretations of some of the moves I've been studying in books and videos are already diverging from the prescribed uses from the masters. What does this mean? Are the masters wrong? Am I just totally ignorant at this point, or will my hypothesis hold true that few people really know what they're practicing when they practice their Tai Chi Sword forms?

I'm no genius, but I am skeptical...

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