How do you learn martial arts?
Your instructor shouts at you and says do it like this, watch me, he then goes through a series of combinations and you are supposed copy and learn it from that but you don’t even remember the first technique or whether he used his left hand or right hand.
There must be a better way of learning or teaching martial arts than monkey see monkey do. Yes we know we have to repeat the movements many times to get into your subconscious studies show that you need 10,000 hours to be an expert in any skill. Obviously the more you practice the better you will become at martial arts or any motor skills having said that the way you practice and what you practice is just as important as the length of time. We should be able to achieve a good level of competence in about 20 hours by just focussing in a different way and changing the method of learning.
Motor skills learning is defined as the process by which movements are executed more quickly and accurately with practice. Motor skills are acquired over multiple training sessions until performance reaches a plateau. There are two phases of learning: a fast phase and a slow phase. The fast phase involves rapid improvement over the course of one single training session. The slow phase involves small, steady gains and increments that develop over multiple practice sessions, eventually reaching a stable peak.
So for an example if you have never punched a punchbag before the first time you practice will be the most learning intensive as you are coordinating muscles in a way that your body has never experienced before. Once that first session is over, you are cognitively aware of much of what is required to punch the bag, you’re just not very good at it yet. In your subsequent practices, you begin the slow process of gaining power, speed, timing and accuracy so that the vision in your brain matches the movements of your body. Eventually, you’ll reach a level of expertise that is relatively constant. The brain needs time to create new neural pathways and build new habits.
Now how do we create a formula in order to get the best from our training time.
1. Decide what you want to do. (E.g. punch better)
2. Break it into sub skills (E.g. footwork, bending the legs, rotating the hips, driving the shoulders in, rotating the fist.)
3. Research the most important sub skills (E.g. Using the core)
4. Remove the barriers to practice. (E.g. Too tired, don’t have enough time, parrot has just died)
5. Dedicate time to the skill. At least 20 hours
6. Keep motivated. (reward yourself when you have achieved a competent level of the skill)
The above can also be applied to any motor skill like playing the piano, driving a car and so on.