When you watch a black belt do a self-defense technique and then watch a yellow belt do that same technique you could be standing there wondering if they did the same thing.
The black belt moves with speed, power, accuracy and finesse while the beginner can seem slow, uncoordinated and a lot more rigid; often holding their breath.
One of the main differences is how that the black belt has repeated that technique hundreds if not thousands of times to get to the level of black belt.
And that process is commonly referred to as muscle memory training.
What is Muscle Memory?
Muscle memory is when you repeat movements over and over again until you build neural pathways to the brain until the neurons communicate with the muscles automatically. You’re developing the ability for muscles to record patterns of tension and relaxation so you can do them without thought.
The more you practice a certain self-defense technique the more it becomes easier to do without thought. Not only that, but you also eventually gain accuracy, speed, finesse and power while executing it the more you practice it.
Muscle Memory Takes Repetition
While there is no magic number to internalize a technique, it is safe to say it requires thousands of repetitions before your brain and body created the neural pathways to do it sub-consciously.
And, how you practice at home can be critical to your ability to quickly gain muscle memory.
If you’re struggling with your progress, it could be that you’re not leveraging the power of repetition for muscle memory correctly.
There are two ways people usually practice:
- They work on a lot of self defense techniques only doing each one a couple of times.
- They work on fewer self defense techniques doing each one several times.
Which is better?
My recommendations is the latter.
Repetition of an activity brings familiarity and habit. It can help you get more comfortable with things faster and improve your confidence. In fact, it will also increase your chances of survival in a self-defense situation.
If you’ve only done a technique 100 times, do you think you could use it on the street?
Chances are, no.
You swinging a golf club 100 times won’t make you play like Tiger Woods at the Masters any more than practicing a technique 100 times will be make you as capable as Mr. Mills at the Legal Tender on a Friday Night.
Each technique requires thousands of repetitions in order to wire your brain and body correctly in order to be able to use it (or parts of it) in self-defense situation. So, be sure you’re practicing with fewer techniques and increasing your repetition of them when you practice.
Some people get their black belts faster than others because they understand the importance of repetition and practice the right things the right way.
Muscle memory is only one part of the equation in order to be able to protect yourself in a self-defense situation. However, it is one of the most important.
Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the form of a comment!