This article originally appeared on Evolve MMA.
As martial artists on the path to continuous self-improvement, there’s nothing we’d like better than to find ways to help us get better at our martial art of choice. Whether it’s when we’re feeling stuck on a certain technique or when we can’t seem to progress during sparring sessions in the gym, any tips/tricks to help us with these would certainly make things easier.
Luckily for you, Evolve Daily has done the research so you can easily be on your way to being the best martial artist you can be. Today, Evolve Daily shares 5 learning hacks you can use to get better at martial arts:
1) Productive failure
In a study conducted at the National Institute of Education in Singapore, the more students struggled, and even failed, while trying to master new information, the more likely they will recall and apply that information later. So what does this mean for martial artists like us? It means that we shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes in the gym when we learn techniques/spar. Committing mistakes is natural for any martial artist, no matter how highly ranked he/she is. There’s always something to learn from every spar or martial arts class, it’s just a matter of what we do with that information: do we toss it aside or do we work on our mistake and learn from it?
2) Set SMART goals
As martial artists, we know the importance of setting goals. But the problem is, some of us set vague goals that end up being to our detriment in the long term. Instead of setting lofty goals that we’ll never accomplish, we should aim to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Based) goals. For example, a bad goal would be: “I want to have a better open guard.” Why? Because it’s too general. Here’s a better example: “I want to be able to sweep someone from the reverse De La Riva guard by next week.” Notice how the difference in the two goals, how the latter is more specific and how it gives you a timeline to learn. The next time you set a goal, you should keep these factors in mind.
3) Find out how you learn
In school, you’ve probably been asked at one point or another: what’s your learning style? Are you an auditory, visual, or tactile learner? Whether you realize it or not, the way you learn techniques in the gym is probably the same way you learn important historical dates or geometric formulas.
Auditory learner: You learn by listening and hearing. When it’s your turn to do drill techniques, describe each movement to yourself as you execute it.
Visual learner: You learn by reading, seeing pictures, or watching instructional videos. If you’re a visual learner, taking notes after each martial arts class, like ONE Superstar Shinya Aoki does, will help you tremendously.
Tactile learner: You learn by touching and doing. Take the time to drill techniques before and after class with a partner and do several repetitions of each technique per side.
4) Use multiple media
When we experience information in many different ways, we are more likely to recall it. This is because different types of media activate different areas of the brain and we remember things better when multiple parts of the brain are working together. To remember techniques, we can read our notes, write new ones, watch videos, or even create concept maps (just not all at the same time).
Don’t wait till you spar to test your technical knowledge – especially if it’s a technique you’ve just learned. Ask your training partner to flow roll before class and make sure you use the techniques you specifically want to work on. Otherwise, you’re really learning the “error state” of drawing a blank.
So tell us, which of these tips will you try out today?