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Mental Training for Better Marital Arts

Posted by ackbar80 on January 15, 2022 at 9:25 AM

Daily life isn’t always conducive for martial arts training. I can’t get up in the middle of my office and start spinning the broom in the corner to practice my bo staff training. I also can’t train all day because I have other things to do and because honestly, it can be tiring. However, there are other options to make you a better martial artist that are available that can build upon physical practice. Let’s dive into mental training:


1. Visualization: Psychologist Alan Richardson did a famous study about training people for shooting basketball free throws. The abbreviated version of the experiment is he made three groups. One group practiced free throws, one group didn’t touch a basketball but visualized practicing free throws and the third group did neither. As expected the last group didn’t get better. What may surprise you is the visualization group improved almost as much as the actual practice group. This means using visualization plus training can help take your training to the next level. It is a way of adding additional repetitions when you don’t have time, access or ability to do more. This can help us put a dent in our 10,000 hours quicker.


2. Mirror Neurons: A second way to work on visualization is through mirror neurons. Scientists have discovered when you focus your attention and watch someone perform an activity, you brain actually fires in a way that looks like you are performing the activity. Again, we can use this to our advantage by watching highly trained martial artists perform the activity on YouTube or via the DVDs sold online. I use a mix of both, I like the DVDs because they are longer, usually have more production value and the teaching is organized in a logical manner as opposed to randomly watching YouTube clips.


3. Reading/Listening: I’ve heard that if you want to learn a lifetime of lessons in a day, you should read someone’s biography. There have been a lot of famous and successful martial artists from those featured in movies to those that step into the UFC octagon that have written books. Reading or listening to these can help get your mindset in the right place for both training and real world application. Choose an author that interests you and is closer aligned with your goals for best results. Interested in competing and tournament fighting? Read UFC fighters. Interested in more WuShu or performance based competition? Listen to martial artists from movies. Interested in just being in better shape? Try athletes who are also martial artists. I say listen or read because using audiobooks is a great way to consume more written content whether you do so on your drive to work or a conditioning run.


Overall, there are more ways to practice than just in the dojo. You can use some of the above opportunities to improve but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Being at to perform whether in a competition, a belt test or in a real life situation requires mental fortitude and confidence that is built upon through training. Train hard, but more importantly be consistent and you’ll find your improvement is consistent that will bring you to a level you once thought was impossible.


Categories: Martial Arts