It's pretty obvious that a lot of knowledge is learnt on an subconscious level - you have to “learn” how to walk, type, play a guitar, a piano, etc…
You can understand the mechanics, but until you've practiced, you can't do it without “thinking about it”.
This was driven home to me recently in an amusing incident.
I'm trying to convince Joe that emacs is the one-true-way as far as editors go for developers, and he asked me how to “switch to the other open buffer”.
This is an operation that I perform every single day hundreds, if not thousands of times. But could I remember the keyboard sequence?
I had to sit down in front of the keyboard with emacs in front of me and have my fingers teach my conscious mind that the command it couldn't remember was Ctrl-x o.
Smart things, those fingers.