So, it turns out that I can’t really learn a new pattern in 5 minute sessions because my brain does NOT like it.
I can do 5 minute practices of a pattern that I already know or I can practice one specific technique for 5 minutes but my brain refuses to believe that 5 minutes of learning a new pattern will add up to me being able to do it.
I have it a good try for the first 10 days of my plan, though.
I would practice a few moves one day and really feel like I was getting it. But, by the next afternoon, it was like I had wiped my mind clear of the previous movements entirely. It was taking me almost the whole five minutes to remind myself of what I had been doing the day before and it was so awkward and frustrating that I was getting really discouraged.
I know, of course, that learning takes time and that I have to be patient with myself and with the process.
BUT, on the other hand, I know what I am like and I know what my brain is like. And, I know that that specific kind of frustration can lead to me unconsciously putting something aside for later – and not a specific time later but that murky ambiguous time that I refer to as the ‘the not-now.’*
Change in Plans
In order to protect my pattern practice from falling into the not-now, I had to course-correct.
I changed my daily practices to focus on patterns I already knew, cycling through them one at a time.
As for learning Yoo-Sin, here’s what happened:
Luckily, we went back to having classes in person so I had the chance to work with Ms. Reid and Mr. Dyer a couple of times. That really helped. It’s great to have two very different people to work with – they both help me to understand different parts of the movements and understand how to bring the pieces together.
And, at home, I dedicated longer periods of time to learning my new pattern so I had time to get into more of the movements in each practice.
I started by writing out the 68 movements in my own words so I could reference them more easily. I’m sure official instructions will never include phrases like “X punch down, X knives up, then sneaky punch” but I make it work.
Then I broke the movements into sections that made sense to me – separating sections when I had to change directions or when a set of similar movements were completed and another set was starting.
I worked on the first section until the movements had a bit of flow to them and then moved to the next section, adding a little bit at a time. This is what I was hoping to do with my 5 minute practices but 5 minutes wasn’t long enough to make things stick.
I could feel that I was starting to grasp my pattern** but I couldn’t always bring my knowledge with me to class. It always takes a while before my home practice shows up at class with me but at least my brain was more willing to focus on the details of the in-class practice because the movements were at least vaguely familiar. That let me retain more information about the details of the pattern because I had a mental ‘container’ to put them in.
Let’s Call It A Success
I’m going to call my February plan a success even though I had to change it part way through. (Hmm, does it count as changing it if part of the plan was that I could change it if I wanted? Ha! )
Trying to work for 5 minutes a day wasn’t a direct path to learning my pattern but it did set me on the right path. Realizing that 5 minutes a day wasn’t going to work led me to find something that would and now I am doing pretty well with my pattern overall.
I’m pretty confident with the first 50 of the 68 movements and I am feeling ok about the last 18. And I’d be feeling more confident about that last 18 if I could magically face the right direction for each movement instead of having to remind myself each time.
When I started this plan for practice I wasn’t sure if I *could* learn my pattern in a month but apparently, the answer is yes – as long as I was working with my inclinations instead of against them.
I think I just coached myself into a corner with that last bit, hey? 😉
*Long before I was diagnosed with ADHD, I would tell people that, for me, time only came in two forms ‘now’ and ‘not-now’ and if I put something into the not-now it might never resurface. It took me years to find out that dividing time like that is common among people with ADHD. I don’t know how many people use the definite article though – ‘the not-now’ has a certain gravitas to it that works for me.
** I have a very specific feeling when I know a pattern is starting to come together. It’s not exactly visual but it is the mental equivalent of watching film develop or watching something move toward you through fog – I can ‘see’ it there, recognize its shape, even if I can’t quite identify/describe it yet.