|I have known for some time that the process of acquiring a new skill is a process of mapping it in to your nervous system, forming and strengthening the connections between the nerves, in the brain and to the muscles that make the action happen. I also knew that part of the efficiency of the nerves function is based upon the proteins that form the "insulation" to the nerves that insure that the signals the signals through the nerves are stronger and faster.|
What I had not realised or thoroughly considered was the importance of sleep to this process. Research has shown that it is during sleep that this mapping takes place and when the proteins are produced.
From Stages of Motor learning (2005) Andreas R. Luft and Manueel M. Buitrago
Successful learning of motor skill requires repetitive training... This article covers the growing evidence that motor skill learning advances through stages, in which different storage mechanisms predominate. the acquisitions phase is characterised by fast (within session) and slow learning (between sessions). For a short period following the initial training sessions, the skill is liable to interference by other skills and by protein synthesis inhibition, indicating that consolidation processes occur during rest periods between training sessions.
When you are practising a skill to acquire it your brain will be trying out different things to ascertain the best way to do them. As it finds things that work it then refines them. However to make lasting changes takes time and happens through a process know as Consolidation. Consolidation is taking place at all time, but appears to be most effective during sleep.
It's Practice, with Sleep, That Makes Perfect: Implications of Sleep-Depnedant Learning and Plasticity for Skill Performance. (2005) Matthew P. Walker and Robert Strickgold
Practice is often believed to be the only determinate of improvement. Although repeatedly performing a new task often results in learning benefits, leading to the adage "practice makes perfect", a collection of studies over the past decade has begun to change this concept, Instead, these reports suggest that after initial training, the brain continues to learn in the absence of further practice, and that this delayed improvement develops during sleep.
The study concludes;
Although the functions of the sleeping brain remain uncertain, rapidly increasing literature now supports the role of sleep in modifying and improving memory These reports provide an abundance of converging evidence indicating that sleep dependant mechanisms of neural plasticity lead to skill memory consolidation and consequently to delayed performance improvements. Different forms of simple and complex skill memory appear to require subtly different types of sleep for overnight memory enhancement, and several studies indicate that within the first 24 hours following initial practice is essential for consolidation to develop.
More recent research suggests that for greatest effect one should sleep, even just a power nap, within four hours of practice, otherwise the body/brains ability to consolidate is impaired. It would seem in light of this that evening training sessions, if you then get to bed within four hours of finishing, is actually a good idea! ;)
Interference occurs when one doesn't sleep properly or within the suggested time, and the consolidation is inhibited has the brain is having to deal with more present issues, also as noted the production of the proteins involved takes place during sleep. Also if you practice or use another similar but conflicting skill soon after training it causes Interference of the consolidation process. It seems that four hours is the boundary line after which such practice won't cause Interference. If you can wait four hours until using the conflicting skill, then interference doesn't occur and if you can get a nap as well..... so much the better! ;)
It should also be noted that once a skill has been acquired then both skills can used and practised with less or no effect
|I was just watching some video of HEMA practitioner, one whose skills and understanding I respect, engaged in some free play with two practitioners of a Japanese Weapon Art (JWA) in this case Kendo. It was as always interesting to see the differences techniques being applied against each other.|
However the main thing I was remaindered of was something I have been aware of now for years when I observe JWA and HEMA. That is the marked difference between how JWA and HEMA consider the Approach and Exit to the engagement and the Approach to the next engagement.
The text below is a direct copy of the post I made on Facebook below the video. I plan to expand on this at a later date, however having written quite a lot I thought it was a reasonable starting point.
An observation of a generally major difference in the practice HEMA and JWA which I have noticed over a long period. HEMA Practitioners whether in set plays or free play, at the end, win or loose, "switch out" and turn their backs most of the time and often spend a long time looking away from the "threat" Where as JMA practitioners tend to stay oriented on the opponent, or when the final action leaves them off target they turn to face and stay facing the opponent whether they win or loose and then stay orientated on the opponent until the next bout/exchange.
Again, these are not 100% occurrences, however there is a clear divide in methodologies/application. I do also think that it is significant. I know that many of the older Ryu in Japan emphasise dealing with the aftermath of an encounter as much as the build up and the actual exchange. That being aware that the threat may not be finished so to stay oriented or at least aware of them is vital.
Also to be aware of other possible threats beyond the technique. One can also note that in modern "combative" firearms training that it is now generally drilled that after shooting a target etc that the shooter scans around and only then chooses to holster/lower the weapon once there are no threats. Rather than older practice methods where this was not done and which generally lead to people to be conditioned on the range to just holster the weapon automatically with out awareness of the environment and other threats. This was found to be leading to negative situations in actual use, where conditioned rather then appropriate responses took over and people would automatically lower/holster the weapon once an immediate threat was neutralised and not check for more threats and then being shot by someone else.
Also training/learning research indicates that staying focused beyond the completion of an immediate task or exercise leads to better/faster retention of skills and actually helped in the correction of mistakes.
This is something we ingrain into students and have seen an over all improvement with its application.
I find that this is a very "Western" approach, we as a culture tend to be more goal rather than process orientated. And even when we think we are focused on the process, we still tend to focus on the immediate frame of the specific thing we are in the process of doing, rather than on the whole process including how we come to the place where the "thing" happens and how we leave it.
|Before reading this post, read these other posts first.|
Open mind 1
Open mind 2
Continuing the theme of the mind sets of those that provide guidance to developing a skill and those that come to receive it. It will also relate to an aspect that has wider application to what we study.
That is space. Both Personal spaces and Shared spaces.
Personal space being your body, your thoughts and places where that are exclusively your own, Your room if you live with someone, your house if you live alone.
As soon as two people are in a space and at least one of them is aware of the other/s it becomes shared
When we enter a shared space we generally modify our behaviour from that we apply to out personal space. This will some form of implicit or explicit compromise and negotiation.
A class, seminar a group club etc. are shared spaces. Whether there explicitly expressed rules for how to behave, there will be far more that are implicit. They should be for the mutual benefit of all those that share it.
All involved should be winning, everyone should be gaining something though in some situations the exchange may be unequal and really the benefits should be shared equally. If they are not then something is wrong and you have the right and should renegotiate and and find a compromise so that so those benefits are in play.
However, once you have agree to those standard you are responsible to uphold them.
When someone isn't willing to compromise or negotiate, then you have the absolute right to ask them to leave or if a student to go. Find where your needs met. People who are not willing to compromise to function in the shared space then they should not benefit by your presence or of those that are willing to work.
The previous posts addressed the more "hard line" closed minded students, but one also encounters the passive participant. These are those people that turn up and take part but really don't commit to the training, if you run a regular class, they probably turn up every week. However they do the bare minimum, do not really give anything to those that work are unwilling to work with every one and generally spend most of their time talking.
Personally I find these people just as bad as the more actively resistant. They are just as unwilling to learn and are as negative an influence on whomever they work with. Though as mentioned they often work with someone else like them, normally a family member or partner they come with. However their very passivity leads to them being ignored or put up with as "they are not doing any harm". However I would argue that they are and as they have broken the or are not engaging in the mutual contract, and should be told to not take part and dealt with in the same way as any other closed minded person.
Finally I will say that in my experience that the concept of a shared space is one reason why rigid hierarchies are open to misuse and abuse and therefore are a poor model for what we study. The mutual contract is too easily manipulated to perpetuate the hierarchy rather than the learning and with an unbalanced set of benefits for those at the top. Also where the titles and stratification of hierarchy of the shared learning space carries over into interaction beyond. Rather the goal for which the group was formed to serve, which is to educate and improve all those involved.
|This is a follow on, based upon some discussion that the last post provoked on Facebook.|
If you haven't read the first part please do, this will make more sense it you have! ;)
One discussion took a route that these people don't want to push themselves and that people "these days" don't like to push themselves. I would suggest that some people have always avoided pushing themselves.
There are those that don't want to push themselves and don't like to push. Though they are not the ones I am talking about in the blog.
While the closed minded don't push themselves, in their case it is because they don't see the need, as they believe that they are already as good as they need to be, or that anyone outside their way of doing things can't push them.
It was also suggested that people these days don't like or understand hierarchies.
I tend to find that majority that have this closed mind attitude come from groups with rigid or strict Hierarchies, where they have allowed themselves to be brainwashed and believe that what they have been taught and how it was taught is "the only way" and as such they fight against anything that doesn't is outside.
Others come from a background where they are the "big fish in a small pond", they have been the top of there hierarchy and they have become to used to calling the shots, or when they swim in another pond they are reminded that they aren't as good as the have told themselves they were.
Others have such a stubborn and over inflated sense of their own skills and knowledge. This has meant that they have bounced from on group to another. Either because none of the groups could put up with them. Or because no group has given them the power and respect the "know" they deserve. They now travel around as the top instructor of their own group, which is normally only them. On occasion they may one or perhaps two, devoted followers who have brainwashed themselves in to deifying their teacher, others have come put could put up with the BS and have left. The Teacher sees this devotion as validation of their own skills. In fact they normally see the fact that so few understand them or stick to training with them as further proof of its truth and how special it is, as the "common herd" just don't get it.
Personally I don't like strict hierarchies, I have seen too many that may have started with the right intention, striving to be the best you can be, that have then become rigid and locked and really serve to only maintain those people at the top levels of the hierarchy.
Of course the teacher is the teacher, they should be given respect, and they should return it. However the teachers job is to make the student their equal or preferably superior in skills and understanding. To me you can't do that in a rigid hierarchy, though is does have to be carried out with acknowledgement and respect.Follow on Piece on personal and Shared spaces