[GREAT VIDEO ON NEURO-PLASTICITY BELOW]
Learning something new is an interesting challenge and is fraught with frustration (a point at which I like to think that breakthroughs are happening). What is more interesting is to watch people who are learning a new movement from a similar starting point (position eg. Hand grab) and watch to see the uptake of change.
Neuroplasticity is an interesting animal. Are you slightly damned having already learned something one way only to have to change the movement or are you better learning from scratch. I am certainly nowhere near an answer but I can give you some observations.
More recently on significant stylistic changes due to sensei passing, we have had to source out a new organisation to follow. Fortunately, a long time student of our founder (Mochizuki) appeared and we began the process of changing over this organisations structure. The basics approach was very different as it was closer to the style Mochizuki was doing closer to his death.
Whilst it has been a difficult transformation, it has allowed me to observe the uptake of new movements by well-trained students with varying degree of experiences.
Fortunately we also have a number of entry level students who have not had the benefit of years of training in other forms/styles, so they are pretty much a clean slate. Their ability to pick up the new movements has been astounding compared to the higher level and they usually can perform the sequences better than higher grades.
I must qualify this by saying they are still quite young, so this probably will factor into it as according to popular opinion neuroplasticity decreases with age.
However, many of the higher grades now, whilst struggling more to perform these new movements, once achieved now seem to be performing them much better. Obviously it is harder for them to breakdown their existing movements but once achieved there is a significant acceleration in performing techniques.
So damn if you do, damed if you don’t. It seems clear to me whilst the wrestle with change is greater for experienced people, in the end they can assert some of their learing on top of the new movement.
The corollary of this is learn many styles/types of martial arts and bring them to the fore.
This doesn’t account for the “Freaks” for whom kinestetic intelligence is high and whilst being older may mean a slower process, there is obviously a breakthrough moment.
Here is a great video about Neuro-Plasticity and breakthrough moments learning a new technique.
I think I prefer having the knowledge…