Monday, December 31, 2012

Ideas for visualisations

Lori O'Connell recently blogged on the value of visualization in martial arts training:
In one of the most well-known studies on creative visualization in sports, Russian scientists compared four groups of Olympic athletes in terms of their training schedules (as described in Karate Of Okinawa: Building Warrior Spirit by Robert Scaglione):
Group 1 = 100% physical training;
Group 2 - 75% physical training with 25% mental training;
Group 3 - 50% physical training with 50% mental training;
Group 4 - 25% physical training with 75% mental training.
Group 4, with 75% of their time devoted to mental training, performed the best.
Personally, I find mental practice more challenging than physical training: the mind wanders ... So here are my top suggestions for mental training:
  1. Go to class!  Training in the martial arts develops the mind and body from the get-go.   Once a technique is familiar, don't go on auto-pilot:
    1. Observe: Notice fine details.
    2. Experiment: Explore variations.
    3. Reflect: Make notes, start a journal or a blog.
  2. Practice with an imaginary partner.  [Your movement is real; your partner is visualised.]
    1. Practice individual techniques.  Visualise fine details, but also practice the flow of the technique.
    2. Alternate between regular (migi) and opposite-side (hidari) versions of a technique.  I quite like to do one rep migi, two reps hidari, three reps migi, etc. rather than one for one repetition.
    3. Practice combinations of techniques: you attack, visualise your imaginary partner evading, you do a suitable follow-up.
    4. Practice counters to techniques: your imaginary partner attacks, you evade and counter-attack.
  3. Pure visualisation: exercises as per the imaginary partner.
At first the aim is to reinforce what you learn in class and achieve basic competency.  With regular imaginary practice deeper observations will arise: these can and should be validated in class.  Increased fluency is another benefit, again testable with real partners.

There's a saying that "perfect practice makes perfect".   Conversely there is a danger that poor practice can lock in bad habits.  For this reason it's important not to eschew regular training for pure visualisation: rather start slowly and go gently.

I should also mention that for the more advanced practitioners teaching, judging contests and assessing candidates are all great forms of mental training that have the bonus of helping out others.

4 comments:

Wade McMaster said...

I think it's important to constantly visualise becaus eyou start to hardwire your senses both in and out of training. It's like shadow sparring even for 10 seconds during a lunch break, and constantly practicing, eventually your body and mind just start to hardwire it into your system. That's why being passionate or even obsessive really helps you to progress :)

Liam Cooks said...

This is such a helpful post covering all the main aspects in an easily understandable way.

Glenn Jacob said...

Thanks for this posting!
Nice & very informative blog.
Martial Arts Inner West is one of the best training center in Australia.

Alexis Moore said...

Relevant ideas.
A reminder to all who wants to persevere in learning martial arts: that an expert at anything was once a beginner, a beginner who keeps on practicing and is open-minded to learn more and more!

Martial Arts Brisbane