Stacey wrote:I also suspect it depends on how physical the students are. Students who are into athletics, have learned to use their bodies in specific ways have a basis of understanding movement and the movement of others whereas those who lead a sedentary lifestyle need more basic instruction and more repetition, especially in moves that feel counterintuitive.
KISS - keep it simple. The more the student repeats the moves, the more the student retains of what s/he practices. So, the demo by the instructor is one thing, the practice by the student is quite another thing.
And I do agree with others - a class once or twice a year without continued practice, corrected by a qualified instructor is basically worthless, and at worst, gets people seriously hurt.
Perhaps the question should be, how many repetitions of movement does it take to learn the movement, and then how many more repetitions does it take for those learned moves to become reflexive? Sure, there are a few great athletes out there who seem to pick stuff up without thought, but most people have to process and go through their own process to learn skills, especially physical skills, let alone make those skills reflexive.
There's a reason that we can learn osoto gari as our first throw, and spend the rest of our lives learning more about osoto gari, practicing it 10,000 times, learn another nuance of osoto gari, practice it 10,000 times, etc. If we teach a total noob the osoto we'd teach a well seasoned student, we wouldn't expect the noob to understand let alone effectively be able to practice osoto gari. If we demo the basics of osoto gari, concentrating on 2-3 things, to a noob, we can't expect the noob to understand let alone apply even the basic osoto gari - it'll take practice, practice, practice. And, even then, it'll be an intellectual exercise for the person until the noob has executed the throw enough times for it to become automatic.
A seminar never produces reflexive action unless it is practiced and practiced a lot - far more times than are available during a 1 day seminar dedicated to that technique.
You may find it interesting to know that it takes an average of 62 (consecutive) days to make something entirely new into a habit. It's not exactly the same as learning a new movement, but it is also not entirely irrelevant. Nevetheless, those who teach judo also know very that there always is a proportion of judoka in their clubs who do not seem to evolve. Some factors are related to poor evolution. One is age. Children dealing with puberty in general have huge problems with motor learning, that has been known for a long time. Students who do judo at a frequency of just 1 time per week and never get back to that information at any other time in the week, usually do not show the greatest evolution. Practice, regular practice is important certainly in the learning process but also in the process of maintenance. There is a reason the Russian piano and violin schools produce such quality students: endless practice.
When it comes to didactics, the quality of those didactics is important too. Kodokan judo is didactically far from ideal. Kano did some good things, but he was also remarkably poor in others. There is no doubt that, for example, judo's tachi-waza is didactically far better constructed than judo's newaza. If I ask you to to show me 8 different throws many here will likely be able to comply without great difficulty. However, when I ask everyone to show me 8 different ways of turning over the opponent who is lying on his belly, many after a certain number will start to hesitate. Even though judo's newaza is structured, I have shown before that its structure beyond katame-waza is poorly known. That is didactically very relevant in teaching or learning judo. I will illustrate some more. I have perceived certain similarities in judo students and in college students, particularly freshmen. Many freshmen initially really struggle learning new material, particularly the amount of new material they have to swallow, which seriously exceeds what they have known in high-school. When they see what a graduate student can process, that is nearly incomprehensible for a freshmen how one can do that. Take music. When you try to play a piece of music, it is hard, yet you will know the tunes and words of your favorite songs without problems. Still does not compare to concert pianists who know entire piano concerti and sonates off the top of their head, complete with length and time of the notes, expression, loudness, etc. Incomprehensible how someone can do this. Or take Japanese or Chinese to someone who does not know the language: incomprehensible how someone can master all these similar symbols. You see the same in judo. For most blackbelts, the order of throws in nage-no-kata is so obvious that it is hard to explain, yet students who are learning this kata are continuously mixing throws. Yet the blackbelts have their limits too. When you start asking around how many black belts can perfectly recite all the names of goshinjutsu or koshiki-no-kata in the right order, their number becomes very slim. So why can people do things that to others are near impossible to comprehend. IQ sure plays a role, but let's put that aside. It's simple; it's a matter of relationships and patterns. To someone who does not know relationships and patterns it is all incomprehensible code, but to someone who knows it is perfectly logical. At least one major reason as to why a very experienced graduate student can learn and process and retain so much more is that in their learning they automatically create patterns in their information whereas the dilletant freshman attempts to process chaotic information.
In the didactics of judo Kano was successful in creating suffiicient patterns for people to recognize in tachi-waza. He did so by creating a gokyo, by dividing throws in te-, koshi- and ashi-waza and two categories of sutemi-waza, and by creating three separate phases to throws, namely tsukuri, kuzushi, and kake. There is nothing like that (that is commonly known among judoka) when it comes to the didactic structure of newaza. This is one of the most prominent reasons why so many judoka have great difficulties with retention of newaza outside katame-waza. But even in tachi-waza, the existing didactic organization is sufficient for moderately and advanced experienced judoka, but it is still far from ideal for the kyu-ranked judoka below 1st kyu whose technical progression and skill retention in most cases is not stellar.