Editor Note: an old post from July 2010, please consider attending Full Time Course 2013.
The daily practice of theis finally paying dividend. The investment of doing twenty times per day, by following Steven, Charlie, Khamserk, Wilkin, Michael, Lee, is slowly instilling a ‘rough cut’ of the form in my body. There is still a lot of work to be done, but Master Chen and Master Sun are very helpful in providing advice at the right moment.
As a beginner in the form, I can say that it is much easier to learn the Chen International 56 form than to learn the Practical Chen. The Practical Chen is much more geared towards the practical side of the applications as opposed to the show and elegance of other forms such as the Chen International 56.
Everyone seems to settled a bit more now. We all start to know one another a bit more and are settling in a nice rhythm of practice, rest and eating, and a healthy dose of humour. We don’t see the need to explore the 40 odd Chinese TV channels as we have been shooting our own comedy tapes, projecting them on the wall of the activity room (with a projector provided my Master Chen).
Today’s most memorable quote by Master Chen, after looking at my form: “All the movements you do are incorrect.”
In one sense I am lucky. Not having learned the form before, it is very valid and acceptable assessment. However, some of the people in the group are having a harder time accepting this advice.
At lunchtime Byron, the latest addition to our group of students at Daqingshan, told us the story of the two Zen monks. To keep it short, the two monks who travelled, came to a river crossing with a beautiful maiden, the elder monk carried her across and put her down on the other side, and the young monk, many hours later asking about it being forbidden to carry a maiden, being told that he was still carrying her in his mind. That is the state of some of the other students. They are still carrying with them theof the ‘cut’ of the form they brought to Daqingshan.
And yes, if you get a block of granite from one of the local quaries, it is easier to change its shape than it is to change someone’s ingrained movements that they have been carrying with them from who knows when. It is easier to write in a blank book. For those that have been reading books on the flexible brain/mind, to execute a movement, our brain breaks it down in its component parts, hands, arms, legs, etc., before storing it away. The conscious incompetence that I am experience relates to the inability to coordinate my movements consistently. However, the approach Master Chen is using, by suggesting that we practice theform twenty times, rather than meticulously teach us movement by movement, enables neural pathway to grow larger as nearby neurons are recruited to learn how to perform the form (Conscious Competence).
As we repeat and practice the form the connections through the central core get stronger and the nearby neurons return to their previous state. And as we physically perform the movements, they begin to become encoded in the brain’s motor cortex. Sports coaches refer to this process as “muscle memory”.
What most other students here are trying to achieve is related to the next step. The more you practice a movement, the stronger the Neural Pathway becomes and the greater their ability to perform these motions using the non-conscious parts of your brain (Non-Conscious Competence). There is however a danger lurking in the shadow. Just like a tractor that drives in the same tracks for too long has difficulties leaving those tracks, so are some students having to work hard to readjusting their inaccurate movements.
Don’t think for a minute that because you have done the form for a few years that you are hot property. More than likely, you could benefit from an injection of a dose of reality at Daqingshan Mountain.