Thursday, September 21, 2006

Chunking


I have a martial arts instructor that believes in a specific method of teaching. This is method is useful because it enables the student to learn complicated and multiple moves very quickly. This method is called chunking. Chunking can take complicated forms or Katas and combinations and allow for rapid learning. It requires taking pieces of information and breaking them into small and manageable "chunks" to practice over and over and commit to memory then moving on to the next piece. This method has proved useful in allowing any student to accomplish true feats of memorization and mastery that make martial arts achievable to anyone - even me.

I realized as I went out on a ten mile training run that this method of learning; or if you will mastery, is relevant to every type of training. I run along and the conversation goes something like this. . . Just get to the gas station. now get to the light pole, now to the corner and so on. Soon the entire run has been "chunked". A ten mile run is a daunting task for just about everyone. Throw in some hills and that task takes on a new personality. I discovered that "chunking" can be used to "master" even that type of challenge. The brevity of tackling a hill or covering any real distance while running requires a commitment from deep within. I realized while going along that I had decided in advance which hills were involved in this run and how I was going to approach each one. An amazing discovery was made going along - each hill looked much bigger from the bottom and mastered from the top. Much like life, yes

The arm workout seemed an impossible task on the busiest of days. How could the multiple sets fit in to the limited time allowed. Perhaps cutting some short would yield the results for perceived time limitations. Perhaps doing each set a little quicker would provide an extra five minutes to run a last minute errand.
For certain, neither could give the desired strength results, or for that matter the mental and emotional results that come from a rigorous and honest effort. Once again chunking this workout seemed to be the answer. Taking each rep as it was the last and each set as though it was the beginning; the workout went as planned and enough time to ponder on what to do next session was the outcome.

As the week plays out before me, I begin to see a correlation. I realize that in any given day numerous requirements and appointments much be met. Like learning a complicated kata, if the entire day is to be handled at one time, to say that handling the day is a daunting task is an under statement. However, if the day is "chunked" and one task handled and addressed one step at a time, the day coasts through my life with little more than a wink of presence. The message is remembered, that is why we do this. Let each day in the gym be the playground for life. Let each step on the road provide the instructions as to how to do this thing called life. Let each punch or kick be the ground on which the decision to succeed be rooted. May the discovery be realized the the only limits that exist are the ones that are believed.

I run to remember that I am strong.
I strength train to demonstrate that strength
I am a martial artist to never be the victim of weakness again.

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