As part of my training for the 3-Day in October, in addition to doing lots of walking I am supposed to be cross-training. In other words, doing some non-walking form of exercise. I have re-started doing Dance Dance Revolution, which I have not done very much at all lately. I prefer one of the older versions, DDR MAX2.
This version has what is called “Endless” mode, though it does end as soon as you fail a song. What it does is play a prescribed sequence of songs in batches of 5, without much pause between songs. In the usual game mode, you play a song and dance to it, then you get a grade/score, and then you choose another song yourself. In Endless mode, there is no choosing. That is done for you. Today I made it all the way to song 25 before failing. Why have I had trouble getting that far, when I used to be super-good at this? Well, not as good at it as my husband, but pretty darn good at the level I was used to.
It’s all in reading the moving arrows fast enough to put your feet in the right place at the right time, and knowing the music well enough so that it is obvious to you when the right time is. And the arrows can move pretty darned fast. You need to have a neural connection that allows your feet to move to the correct location on the dance pad without having to parse it out in your mind first.
I have some connections like that in other situations. Reading English, certainly. And in the past few years I discovered that I have a connection like that for doing jigsaw puzzles. When I am doing a jigsaw puzzle I feel as though I am not even thinking, my eyes see the puzzle piece and my hand puts it in the place it belongs. Touch typing is like this too. You know what words you want to come out onto the page or screen, and your fingers go to the right places to form those words. You may even find that if you DO start thinking about it, you start hitting incorrect keys.
Anyway, I’m having difficulty with getting my groove back in DDR because I haven’t been keeping up the neural connection that lets my feet go to the right place at the right time, and I haven’t been listening to the songs to keep the rhythms in my mind.
I was thinking that I really want to get to this stage with the hiragana and katakana in Japanese. Every so often I play a little game on the computer to match the symbols to their sounds, and I can generally match all of them in under 2 minutes, but I still take what feels like forever to sound out a word. I remember sounding out words when learning to read, as a child, but I don’t remember how long it took me to be able to just read. This process feels agonizingly slow, and I need to get it done so I can start learning kanji (the more complicated symbols that are usually used in place of spelling out entire words.) Meanwhile I plod my way along, kana by kana, through words that usually turn out to be something like “com-pyu-ta” (computer) and I feel both proud that I got it and sad that it is a word borrowed from English instead of a “real” Japanese word that I might know. Oh well, the words I know are most likely to be written as kanji instead of hiragana or katakana anyway.
I gotta go back to those flash cards. Maybe after a walk.