Rational Brain; Rebellious Body理性的頭腦,反叛的身體

I learned how to in-line skate pretty much on my own: I bought a pair of in-line skates and I took them to the riverfront and skated. I was quite nervous the first two runs and almost ripped somebody’s top off when I followed him going downhill. Shortly after that I started to feel quite good on skates since I had no ambition on those 4-wheel things other than driving forward.

As a thunderstorm always comes in when you least expect it, God likes to pick a rough time to show you life is in fact cruel. I participated in one of the Landskaters’ Tuesday-night city skates and that was when my confidence faced one of the most severe challenges. I had a hard time following the skate and many times I was so close to being swept away by the sweeper.

Not until my husband taught me how to skate the correct way, did I realize I had been skating the “wrong” way. At first, I was resistant to his skating 101 and wanted to return to where I was. After all, I was happy there: skating forward along the riverfront; the cement was less bumpy than the pavement and the sunset was sweeter than street lights. There was nothing wrong to settle in there; it was just, for me, after the chrysalis is popped, there is no turning back.

Looking back, I have learned a few sports on my own, and only consult friends who are more experienced for advice. But if I am serious about a sport, at some point, I have an urge to take an instructional class, and I’m always surprised by how inefficient I was or even how “wrong” I was before the professional help: not only was I going nowhere, but sometimes I was moving in a bad direction.

Going nowhere is probably okay but going somewhere I shouldn’t be exposes me to injuries and costs me more effort to retreat. Now I start early: Before I deviate too far from the course, I seek an expert’s help or at least I study instructional books if my wallet needs help first. This approach works just fine but another dilemma presents itself.

I don’t know how most people learn a new sport: do they simply mimic what their instructors have demonstrated or before they buy into any concept do they have to make sure they completely understand every principle of motion?

I am smart, huh, at least I truly believe so and so does my mom. Before I turned to the page of learning sports, I had spent quite an amount of time on books, digesting theories, equations, you know, all that scientific stuff. I am analytical and I depend on my brain and post questions on virtually everything.

When I am learning a new sport, unless the instructor explains well why I have to do such and such, my not-yet-convinced brain refuses to cooperate and disables all my muscle groups. Unfortunately, my brain is not omnipotent: sometimes I sense that my instructor is right but a good explanation is beyond my brain’s reach; sometimes my brain interprets the instruction wrong; sometimes the brain is manipulated by fear or habits and delivers destructive commands.

If my brain is not ready to explain an instruction, I memorize it and hope some day I can explain it. How I learned to roll my kayak can be an example here. At the beginning, out of 10 attempts I could only make one successful roll. Of course I wanted to know what I did wrong, but sometimes even an experienced instructor can’t tell you exactly why, because most of the action is done under water.

I kept watching an instructional video over and over and memorized all the right things I needed to perform, and participated in a private lesson. After numerous tries, I realized how important the set-up position for a roll is. For a good roll, I need to use my torso to lift my body as close to the water surface as possible. By doing that not only the water resistance is reduced but also your paddle can float and generate a powerful push. Many people told me “your paddle sank too much” or “your head lifted too early,” but those were mistakes which naturally came from the first mistake: not using my torso to lift my upper body to the water surface. Once I could do it, I could analyze it. Sometimes things come in a reverse order from what you normally expect.

Let me use another example to demonstrate how my brain was poor in command. When I just started to climb, I learned that I want to maximize my leg usage and minimize arm usage. This makes perfect sense because legs are much stronger than arms. At that time I also picked up that it is much better to straighten the arms but I didn’t make any connection between those two concepts.

It happens so often that my arms give up so I have to stop climbing. My instructor said that I should have given more trust to my legs and shifted more weight to my legs. Instead, I tried to grab too hard on my handholds, and bent my elbows trying to use my arms to pull myself up. She made me do a little experiment: to hold two handholds about 2 meters from the ground, and just hang my whole body there, and then try to bend my elbows to lift my body upward. My arms changed their state from feeling nothing to being exhausted.

The same thing happened when my hand encountered a round and smooth handhold. The more I wanted to hold on to it tightly, the more incompetent I felt I was. My instructor taught me to straighten my arm and lean against the direction of the handhold. I therefore could stay where I was quite peacefully for a short moment and before my hand slipped off the handhold I had enough time to reach the next handhold.

Why my brain ordered my muscles to do the wrong movement still puzzles me. In fact, right now I still have the tendency to overuse my arms so I have to keep reminding myself to give my legs more faith, which they deserve.

Learning sports is hilarious. It is actually not that different from a scientific project. I used to be so proud of my rational brain and give much credit to my analytical approach. However, muscles have a way to tell the dominating brain that it is wrong or demonstrate a new territory where the brain hasn’t had a chance to explore yet.

I still like to analyze, but now I give my muscles more rope. Muscles can teach my brain a good lesson and my brain is still the one who connects all the dots. It is like a jigsaw puzzle. If you are stuck in one area and cannot make any progress, you shift your focus on another battlefield, and at the end all the sub projects will joint.









如果我的腦袋還沒有能力消化教練給的知識,我就硬記,等來日方長有機會去印證。當初令狐冲不也是這樣先記下獨孤九劍的口訣嗎?一個切身的例子是學習獨木舟的180度翻船(Eskimo Roll)。剛開始學習的時候,成功率超級低,成功了也搞不清楚到底怎麼回事。當然,心急的想知道的還是錯誤的嘗試到底是錯在哪裡?偏偏,有時候就算是有經驗的教練也不一定馬上可以告訴你錯在哪裡,因為這個動作很大的一部份是在水面下完成的。








5 thoughts on “<lang_en>Rational Brain; Rebellious Body</lang_en><lang_zh>理性的頭腦,反叛的身體</lang_zh>”

  1. 說起來我跟你一樣,也是自己學會溜冰的

    我也喜歡你那張直排輪照! 很像休閒服模特兒的定裝照喔!

  2. Linda,說實在的還有點累,不過習慣了就好了吧。就是寫的文章數可能會少了些,因為每篇文章的功夫多了些。


  3. Pingback: Final Frontier » Blog Archive » Work with Gravity(與重力合作)

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