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.


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