Training the Sub-Conscious Mind.

I’ve been teaching the Bujinkan martial arts for about 25 years now. Recently we’ve had a surge of new students. Because of this I’ve started really looking at how I teach the new students. I’ve noticed over the years that people tend to learn better when they are learning “sub consciously”. Let me try to explain what I’m thinking. Training the Sub-Conscious Mind.

Recently in class, I was showing the new students a basic, but bot necessarily easy technique. This technique involved the attacker grabbing the wrist of the student and punching towards their face. We start with a static attack (no set up, just grab and punch). The new people stumbled through and I let them go until they had a basic handle on the technique. Then I added a realistic attack, the attacker would punch and the receiver would counter (or block or redirect) the punch with their arm. This allowed the attacker to change the punch into a wrist grab. Once the wrist was grabbed then the receiver would continue on to do the original technique.

I let them play with this for a while, again until they understood it at a basic level.

Then, I had them go back and just do the original technique (just grab and punch). They all did the technique with ease. So I asked them, was it easier to do the original technique after having added the extra movement? They all agreed it was much easier the second time.

So, here is my theory. The student needs to understand the basics of a technique, then add a movement or two to the technique, this makes the whole thing more confusing. This “tricks” the student into going through the physical movements of the original technique without consciously thinking about it, they are trying to figure out the new movements that have been added, and they end up doing the original technique without thinking about it. This speeds up the process of creating “muscle memory”. Basically we are distracting the conscious mind while the body moves through the movements, this forces the sub-conscious mind to engage, thus “recording” the movements in the subconscious.

Now the best way to learn any physical movement is through repetition, but I think we can speed up the process of understanding the physical movements by using this technique. This makes the learning process less frustrating for new students.

Another thing that we have been doing is using “drills”. We use drills that are basically simplified techniques. We spend about a half hour to forty five minutes each class running through repetitive drills that will help the students with the techniques I have planned for that session. If the techniques I have planned for the session will involve moving to Ichimonji and counter striking then we will do an ichimonji counter striking drill during our warm up. If the planned technique will involve a shuto strike we work a drill involving different shuto strikes. I think you get the idea.

This way of teaching takes more planning on my part than just showing up and doing whatever I feel like, but i believe it makes the class more rewarding to the students.

What are you (or your teacher) doing in your classes that is working for you? Comment or send me messages, I would love to hear what others are doing.

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