The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How to Learn a Martial Art Twice as Fast

Stumble Upon pointed me towards this article on learning a skill twice as quickly. An excerpt is below. The full post may be read here.

Learning a new skill doesn’t depend so much on how much practice you do, but how you practice. The key is to subtly vary your training with changes that keep your brain learning. By changing up your routine, new research says, you can cut the time to acquire a new skill by half.

Acquiring new motor skills requires repetition, but iterative repetition is much more effective than just doing the same thing over and over. A new study from Johns Hopkins found that modifying practice sessions led participants to learn a new computer-based motor skill quicker than straight repetition. The results suggest that a process called reconsolidation is at work.

Reconsolidation is a process in which "existing memories are recalled and modified with new knowledge." The new study, led by Johns Hopkins University professor Pablo Celnik, demonstrated that reconsolidation is also key to learning motor skills, a process about which little was previously known.

Learning a new skill doesn’t depend so much on how much practice you do, but how you practice. The key is to subtly vary your training with changes that keep your brain learning. By changing up your routine, new research says, you can cut the time to acquire a new skill by half.
Acquiring new motor skills requires repetition, but iterative repetition is much more effective than just doing the same thing over and over. A new study from Johns Hopkins found that modifying practice sessions led participants to learn a new computer-based motor skill quicker than straight repetition. The results suggest that a process called reconsolidation is at work.
Reconsolidation is a process in which "existing memories are recalled and modified with new knowledge." The new study, led by Johns Hopkins University professor Pablo Celnik, demonstrated that reconsolidation is also key to learning motor skills, a process about which little was previously known.



"What we found is if you practice a slightly modified version of a task you want to master," said Celnik, "you actually learn more and faster than if you just keep practicing the exact same thing multiple times in a row."

Eighty six volunteers were trained to manipulate a cursor on a computer screen by squeezing a small device. Three groups each trained for a 45-minute session. Then, six hours later, one group repeated the same exercise, while another group performed a modified version, with slightly different squeezing force required. Both these groups repeated the first task the next day, and a control group only did one session per day.

The control group did worst, roughly half as well as the group that simply repeated the training. The group that switched things up did best of all, performing almost twice as well as the repetitively trained group.

Come to think of it, Kushida Sensei used this principle in the way he ran his aikido classes.

For several weeks at a time, we might explore First Control (Ikkajo) from every attack imaginable: Front strike, side strike, chest grab, behind both wrists grab, etc.

Or we might take a given attack, say shoulder grab, and go through every technique as a response: First control, second control, third control, etc.

In the couple of weeks leading up to rank testing though, we'd buckle down and focus on our testing techniques.

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