Repetition Repetition Repetition
Just siting here thinking about how I can improve my teaching skills and the best way to pass on knowledge to my students to help them improve in their martial arts. An observation I have encountered is students won’t spend enough time repeating a movement or skill they are trying to perfect or they won’t allow enough time before they start to lose heart and give up. That old saying by Zig Ziglar ‘‘Repetition is the mother of all learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment ’’ is true today as it has always been.
When giving a seminar I would demonstrate a principle through a technique and would show it slow, fast and then from different angles and then break it down into 1,2,3 and then number 4, meaning that everyone would do the first move with me and then when I see the majority have this we go to number two and so on. Once everyone has a basic grasp of what we are trying to accomplish they then start to practice. Now this is where we have the problem, Students will only try something once or twice and then look around for confirmation that they are doing it right or they will do their own interpretation of what they thought they saw based on the knowledge they have and not the knowledge required but this of course is normal. The body is an incredible thing, it has a way of finding the most economical, efficient, easiest way of doing something. Having said that it will only find this out after doing many repetitions.
Take an example of shooting with a gun, you aim for the target but you miss slightly so you then adjust your aim naturally to get closer to the target. This is a simplistic example as there are many more factors to take into consideration. Aiming (sight alignment and sight picture), breath control, holding control, trigger control, follow through and recoil control to stay on point. The problem is trying to perfect all of the elements at the same time which is hard so you are always going to sacrifice one or some of the elements in favour of perfecting the weaker one.
So now it is not just a question of mindless repetition but it should also be about how we accomplish the repetition. I would break down each element and practice it individually. In martial arts terms we would start with footwork and entering, then on to minimizing your opponents attack or getting into the space where you can deliver your attack effectively, then practice all possible counters you may face and then practice the counters to the counters. We don’t concentrate on particular techniques for a certain situations as circumstances can change even as you are applying the technique and styles or systems can very so much that it is just important to break down each principle and element that you are practicing and making sure you can perform each one effortlessly. When you do it this way you remain fluid and able to change/adapt to what you are doing as it is happening.
Back in my old Karate days in the seventies sensei (teacher) used to say lets do front kicks and get each one of the students in turn to count to 10, so if you had a class of 30 students you would do it 300 times but that was just one kick then we would then do side kick, side snap kick, roundhouse kick, back kick and then proceed to do the punches, stepping punch, reverse punch, back fist, then all the blocks and then when we thought we had finished we would do combinations of all of the above. So you can see from the above that you could get through 1000s of repetitions in an evening.
Now again I am not saying that this is the correct way to train as if you are doing the technique wrong, repeating it 1000s of times won’t ensure you can do it properly but you still need this type of training some times as it builds the spirit and strengthens your will and teaches you to persevere to the end when things get tough.
So to encapsulate;
1. Choose your principles or techniques to work on.
2. Break down each element.
3. Work on the weakest element.
4. Put it all together
5. Repeat, repeat and repeat again.
6. Make adjustments where needed.
7. Repeat, repeat and repeat again.
Best Wishes and keep safe.