How to develop a Natural Reaction in the Martial Arts
If something comes close to your eyes, it is natural for your eyelids to close and protect the eyes. Most of us do this without having to think much about it. It is a natural reaction for our bodies.
In the Martial Science, a natural reaction is a trained response that comes naturally in the time of need.
Do you have to think about walking? At this point in your life, walking comes naturally. But the truth is, you didn’t know how to walk as a baby. You had to train and practice in order to make your movements as simple as breathing.
In a dangerous situation, you will have no time to evaluate and come up with a multitude of logical defenses. Your body must move reactively. When practicing, you must perform maneuvers over and over until your body will react and no pause for thinking is involved. Evasion can not be categorized into a technique – since it involves so many natural elements.
There are 4 steps involved in creating a natural reaction with anything that we do or learn:
Unconscious Incompetence – Meaning you do not know or are unaware that you need training or need to learn skills to become natural at whatever it is you want to learn, be it fighting or riding a bike.
Conscious Incompetence – You are now consciously aware about your inability to perform naturally.
Conscious Competence – You are now able to easily perform the skill, but still not able to perform it without thinking about the steps required to be competent.
Unconscious Competence – You now move naturally. Your Subconscious will perform the task or skill without having to think about it. Just as you have learned to walk and run, it no longer requires any focused thought.
In the end, your goal will be to have developed a natural reaction in combat. But in order for us to reach this level of response, we must first train repetitively in the skills we learn early on. In the duration of one class, an instructor may teach as many as 10 new techniques, some even more. If we are to practice these newly learned skills (outside of class) and return so we can grow, we must remember the techniques taught in the first place.
The process of learning a technique works as follows:
1. Learn the technique
2. Mentally review the technique
3. Practice the technique
The first step is usually in class under the instructors guidance, while the other two are usually performed within the period AFTER training until the time you are back in class. In order to properly review up to 10 techniques, we need to remember what it was that we learned. The average student remembers about only 2-5 out of 10 techniques by the next day. After a few more days they may only remember 1-3. Using the simple memory technique that follows, you will be able to remember exactly what techniques were taught.
This skill comes in handy if your instructor asks for you to demonstrate what you learned at the end of each class. With practice, you will be able to mimic your instructor and even remember many of his special instructions that would normally have been forgotten.
Before I can teach you the small memory system – you must first understand how the memory works. For in depth training and information you can order my book: Easi-A the Mental Notebook.
Let’s say that we need to remember 10 techniques. Just as you would take notes in class to make a list of ten items, you will need to do the same in your mind. We call this the mental notebook. On a notebook or notepad you may have lines reserved for placing information. You will need the same thing in your head. A place to put each of the 10 techniques. We call these places or areas reserved for information PEGS or HANGERS. There are many metaphors to explain how the mind works – I will skip the how and why and get straight to the techniques.
So what will be our Mental Notepad, what will be the peg, hanger or hooks that we can LINK each technique to? Well, any 10 items that are in your long term memory will work as a peg. But to start, we will use the Rhyme List. Remember, the Mental Notepad is a place to store information – each place needs to have a specific hanger, peg, or hook. This peg, hook or hanger can be anything that you can PICTURE and have stored in your long term memory.
Since we are focusing on learning 10 techniques we will also want to know what technique was number 5. To do this we also need to make sure our peg is associated with the number. This may all sound a little confusing at first, but hang in there and follow through – before you know it, you will catch on to what is happening.
Okay – so we need a list of 10 pegs for our mental notepad. Now I could teach you a defense against a straight punch and tell you to remember this as technique number one, but unless you have an image for number one, you will not have a good association. You would be left with rote memory and boring repetitions that “this is technique number one.” So we will use the Rhyme List to create our numbers and give the images to associate with.
One is Gun
Two is Shoe
Three is Tree
Four is Door
Five is Hive
Six is Sticks
Seven is Heaven
Eight is Skate
Nine is Wine
Ten is Hen
We use the rhyme list because it is pretty easy to remember what number goes with what image. If I say, “what is one?” You only need to think of what rhymes with one and you will think of gun. Review the list a few times until know the links.
This is how it works. Your instructor asks you (or your mental coach):
“What is the technique for number 5?”
Your immediate mental response would be to think:
“5 is hive.”
Once you have Hive in your mind all you need to do to remember the technique, is to remember the associations you made with Hive and Technique.
Let’s say that the fifth technique was a defense against a side kick and all that you need to remember the technique is to remember the side kick. So you simply associate a side kick with a Hive. By the way, I am talking about a Bee Hive. To do this, we can picture a side kick hitting a bee hive and thousands of bees pouring out.
1. You think of 5
2. You should think of Hive and say to yourself “what happened to the Hive?”
3. Oh yes, there was a side kick.
In order to make this work you need to have a good imagination. If you don’t have a good imagination, you will, if you keep up this training. Memorizing your techniques in this fashion will help you to enhance your overall mental abilities.
This information on memory is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more advanced skills and if you find this information interesting, then you might be interested in taking the full memory course. If you have any questions about this memory technique or other RTMS training discussed on our web site, feel free to ask and we will do our best to answer your questions. We pride ourselves on not just offering you a web site with text, but a live response and active participation in the system.