Anyway, back to adopting the role of novice. This is certainly what I did last Tuesday night when I went along to my first karate kata class. For those not in the know, a kata is a set series of choreographed moves, performed to teach/demonstrate certain aspects of a martial art. It is short for katastrophic balls-up of elementary technique. Here's what we did:
Karateka will immediately recognise this as pinan nidan. According to our sensei (Japanese for 'person at the front shouting'), most people master about half of pinan nidan by the end of their first hour long session. I warned him I am am hopeless at this kind of thing. He reassured me it would be all right. I think even he was taken aback when the hour was over and I had only managed to get my head round move 1, (essentially, taking a sidestep and raising your arm, see diagram). Naturally, I could remember odd snatches of later parts of the kata, but not in the right order. Or with the correct limbs, or facing in the proper direction. It's the same when I stop and ask people for directions. Remembering the last three instructions is no use when you turn left instead of right at the beginning.
Still, I know from judo that if you repeat something enough times, it will eventually enter the muscle memory. By 'enough times', I think we are talking something in the region of 500 hours. Maybe I'll write a book about my quest to get a karate black belt before I'm 90.