Friday, December 08, 2006

Eidetic learning

Now, this article is interesting. My instructor has talked with us about eidetic learning. That is, learning by carefully watching and imitating. Visual learning, particularly without auditory information being presented. This is a very traditional, very eastern concept and the old guys in Japan called it 'stealing techniques.' I don't think that 'stealing' in this sense carried the negative connotations even though one story has it that OSensei would never let Kyuzo Mifune watch his classes because Mifune was such a genius he might have been able to 'steal' Ueshiba's techniques.
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Most westerners, myself included, prefer to learn using a mixed method of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic information. But there is a lot to be said for being able to watch a physical performance and not only gather enough info to understand what is going on but to be able to organize that information in such a way that will be consistent and useful in your own mental model.
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These ideas about how to teach martial arts mostly came from feudal Japan and Okinawa in an era where knowledge that one man kept from another was power. It has been said by some modern business reengineering brainiacs that knowledge is not really power - knowledge shared is power. "But," you may protest. "What if they take your knowledge and use it against you or sell it for a profit and don't give you the money or..." Well, as F.M. Alexander (another 20th century genius) has said, "Any man can do what I've done. They just have to do what I've done."
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Knowledge hoarded stagnates and feeds upon itself, becoming corrupt. Knowledge shared is power. You can't steal what is freely given. But eidetic learning is a skill worth developing.

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