The Martial Devotee Method

I have been preparing for some really tough Martial Arts tests recently.  I have been training extremely hard and wanted to share one of my training methods with you to become more proficient at a technique or combination or kata.  Whatever it may be.  It is not ground-breaking or mind blowing but it is definitely simple and effective.

 

repetition

It is that simple.  I repeatedly practice a set of techniques, paying attention to how I perform the techniques and, before long, I have achieved a level of unmatched proficiency.  All you need is time and dedication.

 

Why is Repetition Important?

Proficiency is the outcome of repetition and consistent practice.  It is not enough to simply learn a new skill.  We must hone our ability to perform that skill so that we can execute it effectively even when under pressure.  This can only occur if the skill becomes part of our own existence.  For the skill to become part of our own existence, we need to familiarise ourselves with it by repeating it as much as possible as consistently as possible.  By continuous training of the skill, it will become intuitive to us, and we will understand the parameters which make the skill effective and the circumstances under which the skill is required.  When our intuition takes over, we free ourselves from thinking about the mechanics of the skill and without the overhead of thinking, we execute the skill masterfully and respond quicker to the circumstance.

Repetition allows us to take a skill that was once unknown to us and make it part of ourselves to the extent that it can be called upon through sheer instinct.

Paulo Coelho sums this up wonderfully from his experience with archery in his book Like the Flowing River:
"The archer allows many arrows to go far beyond the target, because he knows that he will only learn the importance of bow, posture, string and target, by repeating his gestures thousands of time, and by not being afraid to make mistakes.

And then comes the moment when he no longer has to think about what he is doing.  From then on, the archer becomes his bow, his arrow and his target."

 

Get your Training Tool

 

Phases of Training

Learning is the ability to acquire a new skill and put it into practice when the need arises.  At the beginning, whatever we set out to learn is unfamiliar and awkward to us.  As we repeatedly do that which we intend on learning, it becomes more familiar and we become more proficient at it.

I like to think of this learning in distinct phases which follow the principle of Mastery, Shu Ha Ri.  The phases can be understood as:

  • Acquisition
  • Proficiency
  • Insight

 

Acquisition

It starts with a demonstration of some sort.  Then you make your first attempt. You feel awkward and find it difficult to navigate.  You practice it enough times to remember it, but you still have to think about the basic series of steps to get the job done.  This is acquisition.  You know enough now to begin practising on your own.

This is a critical step.  Make sure you have grasped enough of the technicalities to perform this correctly so that you do not injure yourself or practice it wrong.  Make sure that your technique is correct. It will not matter how much you practice if your technique is incorrect.  You won’t be effective in execution which is dangerous for you. Therefore, it is vital in this phase that you absorb as much about the technique as possible and practice it under instruction so that it can be pointed out when you use incorrect form and you can self-correct.

The other mistake you could make at this point is to try to go full speed.  Slow it down, making sure you are executing the technique perfectly.  Try to get out of your head and feel the technique so that you can re-establish that feeling when you are practicing it on your own.  Martial Arts is about self-improvement and we all need to start from the beginning.

Our ego can get in the way of our learning and our progress.  Remain humble in all that you do, leave the ego outside of the dojo and embrace the training that you are about to receive.  There is no other way to progress.  The belt or rank that you have achieved is a testament to your hard work and should be viewed upon as nothing more.  When you understand this, you develop the beginners mind and, suddenly, all Martial Arts mastery doors become opened to you.  The door that you will walk through first is up to you!

martial arts progress

 

 

Proficiency

At this point you can perform the basic movements correctly in series.  Now it is time for you to really zero in and hone what you have learnt.  This is where repetition plays a pivotal role.  You need to repeat the series of movements over and over again to develop the muscle memory or neuromuscular pathways to allow you to execute the technique without thinking. 

To do this, I like to start with the number 1000 in the proficiency phase.  Each time that I complete the technique, I decrease this number by 1.  I continue this process until I have reached 0.  At this point I have executed the technique 1000 times and by now I can perform this technique in my sleep.

It can be said that I have reached a high level of proficiency at this point. 

saifa counting down

 

Insight

Your body would have now adapted to the execution of the technique and you can perform it effortlessly and effectively at will.  As you perform these movements, you may find new adaptations and applications for the technique.  It can be said that you have now started to draw insights from what you have learned that are unique to you and your situation.  The technique at this point holds more value to you than before.

The insight phase is where you really make the technique your own.  You are able to execute it autonomously and with unrivalled efficiency.  You are also able to adapt and apply it according to your own needs and uniqueness.

 

Record Your Reps

I created a simple tool to record my training repetitions to ensure that I was hitting 1000 repetitions and no less.  Even better, I was able to train multiple skills at the same time and keep track of how many times I trained each skill.  My results were phenomenal.  I improved by leaps and bounds after completing 1000 repetitions in the newly learned skill.

I really paid attention to the technique during my practice to ensure that I was not developing bad habits.  Before long, the skilled that I repeated so many times over became second nature to me, and it became even more powerful after I combined it with other skills I was learning.

Here is a quick glimpse at the Martial Devotee – Practice makes Perfect digital training tool.  It comprises of:

A Dashboard which updates in real-time and provides you with a quick view on how you are progressing with your skill training.

digital training tool - dashboard

A skill tracker which allows you to input your skills and then track the number of repetitions you have completed up to 1000.

digital training tool - skill tracker

 

Get your Training Tool

 

Final Thoughts...

As human beings and Martial Artists we constantly need to improve and strive for excellence in Mind, Body and Spirit.  No matter how far we have come, there is always further for us to venture.  We need to stay humble and stay on the road of learning and introspection so that we can be a better version of ourselves than we were yesterday. 

"Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome."

~ Arthur Ashe

 

Focus on the process and the results shall follow!

 

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