Wednesday, July 09, 2008

You can't just 'yo'

I had an instructor tell me one time , “You can’t just ‘yo’, you have to ‘yo-yo’” What that instructor was saying was this: you can’t make a yo-yo or slinky or a pendulum work at any arbitrary speed you want. They only work at their own innate frequency. Notice how, in the end of the video here, the smaller slinky has a different frequency from the larger ones. You can’t make a larger slinky perform like a smaller one no matter how much energy you put into it. It just has a different speed of oscillation to it.

People are the same way. You can’t make any given person move at an arbitrarily fast speed no matter how much energy you impart to them. As a martial example, grab a partner in a double lapel grab and throttle him back and forth as hard and fast as you can. It is uncomfortable and unpleasant for uke, but you’re not really moving them much. Each time you push and he gets ready to start moving, all of a sudden now you are pulling and you cancel his impulse out. You use a lot of energy and don’t really move him much. Now, grab him and start rocking him like you would rock a pendulum or swing a child on a swing set. Each time he gets into a certain phase with you, push a little to amplify his movement. Pretty soon he is sailing all over the mat because you are moving at his frequency, lightly bumping him every so often.

Not only do our bodies work at a certain speed, but our minds do too. Try counting in your head, “1,2,3…” to ten. Now do it faster. Keep trying faster and you will find a point that you just can’t go faster. That speed limit is much slower than the speed of neurons firing, so what is slowing the count down? Subvocalizations - microscopic jaw and throat movements. As you think about a number, your muscles in your jaw and throat begin getting ready in case you are going to say it. This happens whenever we think because we can’t think outside of our language. The bottom line – you can’t move your jaw muscles as fast as you might want, so you can’t think (i.e. count in your head) as fast as you’d like either.

You can't just yo.

1 comment:

  1. You know what would be cool - to be able to play with a slinky that was about the height and weight of a person...


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