I used to be huge professional basketball fan and being from LA I especially loved the Lakers.  When I watched basketball I used to hate Lebron James.  I thought there was just so much hype behind him and I was sure he was going to flame out like the many others that were touted as highly as him.  It actually never happened and he as become one of the greatest players to ever play the game.  But, what makes him so good?  He has great stats of course and his physical prowess and incredible athleticism at 6' 8" 280 lbs is legendary.  However the secret to what might make him so good in addition to his physical ability and work ethic is his mind. I recently read a couple of articles about his ability to recall past events and his ability to learn new information.  Apparently Lebron James has a eidetic memory.  An eidetic memory means that he can recall memories without the use of any aids or mnemonic devices in just a few moments.  Supposedly he can remember plays and outcomes of not only his own games but almost any game he has watched over his lifetime.  The article I read stated that he learned the entire new offense in just two days and not only did he learn his position, but he learned every other player's position too.  Incredible!

I think Sensei was like that too.  He could do that with Aikido techniques and compare and contrast teacher styles.  Sensei could turn off and turn on different styles and teachers of Aikido with the greatest of ease.  He could also do that with swords that would see in person or in books or magazines.  A fairly well traveled story that I tell is of the two of us going to a lady's house to appraise her husband's sword collection and Sensei did the appraisal without the use of a book.  I remember him explaining each sword in great depth and even commenting on which one's might be fake.  The lady was appalled at the idea that a few of her dead husband's swords might be fake and brought out all of the paperwork.  Sure enough, Sensei was spot on.  I was in awe.  He told me to go to the car and fetch a couple of reference books he brought.  He then showed us the reasons why he thought they might be fake by pointing out the inconsistencies compared to the dictionary of signatures.  Later I asked him if he had seen the swords before, which he replied, "No."  I asked him how he knew they were fakes.  He said, "I have carefully looked over every signature in this book as well as spent thousands of hours studying the sword.  You have to study."  Then I got lost on the way home and Sensei berated me about not paying attention and being unprepared.

Is having an eidetic memory nature or nurture?  I actually asked Sensei if he had a photographic memory and he said, "No, I just study hard."  In my personal opinion I think that the answer is both.  Every person has a certain level of talent or nature but that nature needs to be nurtured with hard work.  Lebron James may have been born with these gifts, but what makes him great is what he does with them.  Regardless of what or how much you have, you still have to put in the work.  Study hard!