I am an unfortunate female soul that ended up in a male body. How did it happen? It can be magic or some unfathomable technology indistinguishable from magic. I will investigate, but right now I need to ensure my survival in this new world (I was too overwhelmed with my circumstances before and forgot to mention it, but I am no longer on modern Earth). I need to learn martial arts ASAP if I want to keep my little life.
The original me (the female soul in a female body) was an average woman living in a developed country and working an ordinary desk job (my existence was the very definition of boring). I did not have any major health problems but I was not exceptionally fit. My experience with physical exercises in adulthood was limited to irregular ballroom dance classes and occasional dance parties. As a child, I trained as a swimmer and a ballet dancer (I blame my parents who could never agree on anything!) and thus mentally prepared for the pain and suffering of martial arts training (or so I tell myself). I also cherish my life and am willing to put time and effort into gaining skills necessary for survival.
The original owner of my new body (the male one, in this new world) practised martial arts: breathing exercises, swordsmanship, and unarmed combat. He was not particularly talented or motivated, so his achievements were nothing to brag about. I think that he should have some muscle memory given that he was training for many years (apparently they usually start martial arts training at the age of 6-7 and my body is 17) and was praised for his proficiency in basic forms.
Considering that muscle memory allows the performance of learnt movements without much conscious effort, what role will a pre-existing muscle memory play in the acquisition of martial skills? Will I have the same (or close to the same) level of proficiency as the previous soul or will I be forced to start from the very beginning? Also, if my new body had bad martial art habits how hard would it be to fix them (as someone who went through the pain of correcting a poor piano playing technique I am quite interested in this aspect)?
I am not looking for the exact numbers (it is not possible). I am trying to set clear expectations and gather some understanding of the principles behind muscle memory (how independent it is from consciousness) in order to come up with a realistic training regime. I would appreciate it if the answers were based on science (links to the academic papers are more than welcome).
If it is important, I am thinking about switching to a folding fan and a whip as my preferred weapons in the future.
About soul and body interactions:
- this is not a forced possession where my soul acts as a puppeteer and has to control every single aspect and movement of the body;
- the control is 'natural' and all automated body functions work as expected;
- my soul has a mental image of the body that is informed by my previous body and has to be adjusted for my current body: This causes cognitive dissonance and some problems with coordination and non-automatic actions (the latter should disappear after I fully adjust, the adjustment period is estimated to be no more than a year, 3-4 months for most everyday activities);
- my mental state is affected by the body's physiology: Mostly my moods and emotional responses (this will not be a problem at all after a year or two since I found a solution for my emotions);
- if you feel uncomfortable with the word 'soul' you can substitute it with 'consciousness', they are equivalent within the scope of this question.
- if you have difficulties accepting the premise, you can think about it in terms of explicit memory replacement (accomplished by the mighty and mysterious handwavium): Explicit memory of the male was replaced with my explicit memory leaving the majority of the nervous system intact.
If you need clarifications or additional details, please, ask in the comments.