Just finished reading The Talent Code. Very interesting and it has me thinking.
At one part in the book he is discussing how the violin teachers have a pretty much opposite approach to the soccer coaches. The violin teachers talk a lot giving adjustments and making other points, while the soccer coaches he references sit back and watch and rarely speak. He says both approaches are matched for the activity to increase myelination. (For more details read the book
Now with MA and IMA in particular we often need very precise movements similar to the violin player. But our context is in an activity which is inherently chaotic. The taiji approach is traditionally like the tennis coach who would not allow any student to compete in a tournament until after 3 years of practice. She has produced multiple top 10 players and as she said "technique is everything!" Yet the soccer parts talk about the game futsol which is played indoors on a much smaller field with a ball half the size and twice the weight of a soccer ball. Apparently the average player touches the ball 6 times as often during futsol as during a soccer game. Which equates to more myelination.
He also discusses how the soccer guy will have a huge network of possible movements that are well mylinated while the violinist will have fewer possibilities but they will be highly refined because being a world class violinist requires extreme precision.
Now in IMA we have a need for precision with certain maneuvers and a gargantuan network of possible movements to react to practically infinite variations and circumstances. So it would make sense to have both practice aimed at refining techniques to a high level of precision and practice that maximizes the time spent using those techniques.
The key with the futsol was that the game is very unforgiving, if you mess up, you lose the ball. If you pull off your technique, you make a great play. Sparring and fighting has a similar level of unforgivingness. If you mess up, you get punched, kicked, thrown or locked. If you do well you avoid the bad stuff and hopefully get to dish some out. We also have the same problem of training fighter pilots though. How do you train so as to avoid injury or death? Death would obviously be more important back in the day when hand to hand weapons were trained much more vigorously.
The answer is you make it safe. We do that by slowing it down and controlling the contact. We only hit as hard as the other person can take without being injured, and we only go that hard every so often. By slowing it down we get to spend lots of time in the moment. The problem becomes one of imparting urgency because with light contact it can be easy to ignore mistakes instead of focusing on eliminating them. This is where upping the intensity is helpful because it makes the mistakes much more painful
When sparring slow you can also focus on your technique and pay attention to detail. How you actually are doing something and find the reasons it doesn't work. The real detail training happens with solo work though. This is where the forms come in. The forms allow you to practice a flowing sequence of combat movements while being able to focus on the technique exclusively. All that technique training though won't help a bit if you don't try to use it while sparring, whether you go fast or slow. If you do your forms one way and your sparring a completely different way, then you are wasting your time. Your time would be better spend solo practicing the same way you spar.
Just kind of thinking on paper.