top of page
Search
  • Writer's picturePSBN David

Unifying Body and Mind: Practice!

“I know this one!”

I know you do.


“I just did this.”

Yup, you did.


“Why do I have to do this again?”

Because we’re practicing.


“But did I do anything wrong?”

Nope.



Why DO we do the same things over and over? The obvious answer is: Practice! Everyone understands this and are perfectly okay with it.


At first.


Once they start getting tired… Or feel they did it perfectly. Or did it terribly. Or… isn’t class over? Suddenly, they want to move on to something else.


Sounds like you need to do it again!


 

Discipline


We practice the same things over and over for a number of reasons. When you’re beginning, it helps you actually remember it in the first place. As you start to progress, your previous forms will also get better as you have an idea of how to improve the details. The dangerous part is once you feel you’ve mastered it.


This is where discipline and humility come in. Whenever there’s something that you don’t want to practice, that’s definitely the thing you should practice. You need to have the discipline to keep at it, but you also need the humility to recognize that you still need to practice!


On the flip side, if you’re feeling embarrassed to practice because you don’t think you’re any good at it, you need to have the same discipline and mental fortitude to accept that, yeah, you’re likely going to look a bit sloppy as you’re learning.


This is nothing to be ashamed or self-conscious of!


Everyone has a number of things that they know they should be a bit better at. You’re feeling that way because you already know what you need to practice. This is a huge positive because now you know where to put the most effort into your training!


The great thing about Martial Arts is that nothing is separated out. All of the skills, stances, movements lend to each other. If you practice the thing you feel you’re worst at, every other part of your Martial Art practice will get that much better for it!


Oh, and it’s also good physical exercise. That, too.



 

Brain Power


But that’s not the only reason why we practice over and over! (Strap in, this part’s going to get a bit heavy!)


Another huge part of it is getting the motions into your muscle memory. Your muscle memory is that invisible force that’s pulling your leg in the right direction when your brain is waffling about what to do next. (Actually, it’s called ‘Procedural Memory’ and lives in the brain, not your muscles, but that’s not as catchy.)


Like most things in the brain, the more times you do a particular thing, the more your brain builds up and strengthens the neural pathways (https://www.nature.com/articles/npp2009126). This memory is stored in your cerebellum (https://human-memory.net/explicit-implicit-memory/). Keep this in mind for why you should also focus on practicing as correctly as you can! If you do the wrong thing or are just getting lazy, your brain will be reinforcing those pathways instead of the ones you really want!


Interesting side note for those who’ve known someone with dementia/Alzheimer’s: this is the reason why people affected by those conditions can still remember how to play the piano, baseball, or whatever other skill. Those diseases will attack the “Explicit Memory” that relates to events, knowledge, reasoning, and such (https://practicalneurology.com/articles/2017-june/music-and-dementia-an-overview). The Explicit Memory is a totally different section of the brain, so even as the disease progresses, that lifetime of skills remains.


This is also why it’s a whole different beast to teach, rather than do! You’re having to take out the implicit (i.e. subconscious) memories from your cerebellum, then take them into your hippocampus (handling the explicit/conscious memory) to verbalize them.


There’s the old saying of mastering a task taking 10,000 hours, but that’s going to change drastically on what you’re trying to do. Becoming a Master in a Martial Art, for example, will take much longer as there’s so many facets of it to learn. Mastering a single kick… I imagine most people will get the hang of it well before the New Year hits.


The Power Law of Practice details out exactly what we can see happen with every student: they get the gist of the idea fairly quickly and will be pretty decent at it in a fairly short time. The rub is that getting the rest of the way gets harder and harder the further along you get.



 

And this is exactly why we keep practicing. You’ll continue to improve over time, but it’s not expected to be as fast and dramatic of a difference compared to when you were first learning the thing.


So keep practicing!


After all, that last 50% is a doozy!

33 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page