Tempo And Learning II

In the last post we discussed how fast tempos can undermine technique and therefore safety. Here we will focus on how neurological learning works, and how we undercut it with fast, inaccurate practice.

When you learn a new physical skill, your brain creates a neurological pattern, a song of sorts, that captures the sequence of events necessary to complete the action in a way that pleases your reward centers (more on that in the next post).  When you learn a skill slowly and accurately, the resultant ‘tape recording’ of the skill is accurate and can be sped up and slowed down accordingly without issue. As you progress, your body adapts and over time, it develops the strength, stamina and muscular coordination needed to perform the skill at a higher pace.

Conversely, when you learn a ‘neurological song’ with mistakes built in (a result of hasty practice) your brain can’t simply erase those errors at a later date. When in autopilot (default mode), your nervous system simply plays the tape as it was learned. Only, when you consciously impose a ‘not this but that protocol’ by taking control at the precise moment of the error and executing the action correctly can you over time correct the learned mistake. The more times you have repeated the error the more repetitions it will take to overwrite. Eventually, the correction will become part of your autopilot but this takes time and time is rarely a luxury in theater and film. Depending on the skill you may also need time for your body to adapt to the correct technique which could add even more time.

In theatrical combat, time is always at a premium and the best use of it is to learn the choreography and the techniques that comprise them correctly the first time.

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