“I can’t remember that technique!” Do you recall saying this? Does your instructor show you the technique again and you say, “Oh, I used to know that?” If these comments are familiar, then you must endeavor to learn these techniques more thoroughly. Martial arts moves must be more than familiar, they must be remembered correctly. Here is how to improve your memory.
Before you can improve your memory, you must understand something about memory. The brain has several cooperative memory schemes. Two key schemes are long and short-term memory. Each of these two schemes can be broken down into sub-categories with specific recall mechanisms. We are only interested in short term memory and ghestalting.
Short-term memory can hold five items with relative ease, plus or minus two items. This leaves a range between three and seven items. Notice that US phone numbers are seven digits long. The Phone Company utilizes this phenomenon. For our example, we will use the optimal number five.
To remember your Kempos (one-steps or tricks), practice your first five techniques five times each. Now, repeat this set of five at least three more times. This will help imbed five Kempos into your mind. Do not do more at this point; we are trying to train your mind.
The next step requires an explanation of ghestalting. Ghestalting is a phenomenon of grouping things into units. As an exercise of this theory, say aloud as many different types of animals you can. You will notice that you recall between three and seven animals between pauses and that these animals can be grouped in some way. That is what we will do for your Kempos.
Once you have completed the practice of the first five Kempos, to be called Set 1, you can move to the next five Kempos. Practice your next five Kempos five times each. Repeat this second set as a whole, at least three more times. We’ll call it Set 2. Now you have two sets of five or ten remembered Kempos. Practice these two sets again to reinforce the sets or units.
What we’ve accomplished is to establish units or Kempo sets. Two of the items short-term memory can store are now groups of five Kempos. We’ve increased your memory 250% already. Repeat this procedure in the following days with Set 3, Set 4 and Set 5. What you will find is a dramatic increase in your memory of Kempos.
Always perform your Kempos in these sets. If you do one Kempo in Set 2, for example, then you should practice the other four. This reinforcement of these units or sets helps utilize the brain’s natural mechanism of ghestalting to help memory improve.
The old masters recognized this phenomena and implemented it in their training. Forms and katas are methods of ghestalting. They group various direction changes and body movements into sets of movements. When linked together in a form, they create the katas we know today like pinan or kusanku. Advance students can adapt this technique of ghestalting to their own kata training. Use it. This works.