Our ultimate goal in class is to give students the foundation, structure and principles to set them on a path where they can advance their own learning and discovery (Shu Ha Ri – How We Learn). In order to do that, a student needs to get to the state where she doesn’t need to see and copy the teacher to perform a form or to remind her of a principle.
So there is a lot of stuff that you eventually need to remember as a student.
In my experience the most effective way to do that is through active learning. Personally I cannot remember a new form from doing it two or three times in class once a week. So I take notes after each class. I often only remember one new sequence, but I will write down how I get into that sequence, how the transitions work and anything that seemed counter intuitive to me at first (i.e. I won’t remember it at home). Over a few weeks those sequences will add up to the whole form.
That active learning also helps me to process and with that solidify the lesson that I have learned. I make it ‘my own’ and reinvent the technique or principle in my own mind rather than just letting the teacher entertain me.
Learning requires active engagement with the content. It is hard work (Why Aren’t More People Practicing Tai Chi?), but making the content your own is so much more fun and rewarding.
“Learn and forget. Make the technique a part of your own before you move on.”
Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido