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Adam Zakheim's picture

"I function" and Athletics

I agree with Ms. Kim belief that “awareness and control of the self are powerful enough to shape the way we perceive and respond to our environments.” After class on Thursday, it was evident that an enormous amount of brain activity goes on in the brain without passing through the aforementioned “I function.” As such, innate functions (breathing, the beating of one’s heart, digestive functions, etc) and most skilled activities do not require the “I function.” As I ruminated over this idea, I began to think about fencing, or the Olympic art of sword fighting. When I started fencing, my coach explained to me "one must repeat a specific action roughly 10,000 times before this motion becomes part of your muscle memory." Essentially, by repeating the same motion over and over again, I could force my body to make this action automatic in a competitive situation. This repetition is not exclusive to fencing, but is true of any sport one might play. In order to reach a high level of competition, one must make the right action at precisely the right time. In a fast paced sport, such as fencing, these decisions are made in a matter of seconds.But at what point does the “I function” end, and muscle memory begin? Moreover, how does the body coordinate the actions of several muscle groups and combine them into a single reflex?

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