Without getting too much into brain anatomy, it is worth understanding that different parts of the brain deal with movements. We move most of the time and most of these movements are controlled by an area of the brain with sub/un-conscious function; it is below our level of awareness. It has to be this way for us to be able to perform even the simplest movements. It is the very automatic nature of these unconscious movements that allow us to build up more and more complexity. However, all these movements begin in the conscious area of the brain where they are developed and only when we have sufficiently mapped their function are they then moved to the unconscious area.
I’ve seen a similar process take place when someone is creating music on a computer. A simple beat is first created, tested, corrected, repeated, tested, approved and then consigned to automatic. Then another instrument might be added with a simple rhythm, tested, approved and consigned to automatic. Then a melody may be added, worked on, approved and automated. Then a harmony on another instrument, etc. etc. Each part is worked on, approved and added to the rest. The result is an immensely complex construction that no one person could produce live playing multiple instruments simultaneously.
This is similar to how we learn Kung Fu. We might learn an arm movement, repeat it until we can do it without conscious thought, that is to say, move it’s function to the unconscious area of the brain, to be run as a background sub routine, while we then focus on another with the other arm. Each part of a complex movement, can be broken down into its constituent parts, learned separately and as each part can be performed unconsciously it is added to the rest. Like a complex piece of music, a Kung Fu technique will be the harmony of many individual elements that might involve the entire body. Each limb might be moving differently, but in conjunction with the torso. Many different levels of tension might exist simultaneously. One limb might be softly yielding while another might be rigid, while another might be accelerating explosively, and the all the while the core muscles crunching and the shoulders twisting. Each element might require a different exercise or drill to perfect it and then fit it with the other elements.
One very important feature of this system to understand is that when we are at our most anxious/stressed our conscious section of the brain can be overloaded with the immediate concern. This means that only those movements that have been learned and consigned to the automatic or unconscious section of the brain will be available to use. This means that for most people, the very time they need to use their Kung Fu, only those techniques that they have learned to the point of being able to use without conscious thought can be used.