IT'S EASIER THAN YOU THINK
One of the most common worries I hear about from students, especially beginners, is: How do I remember the self defense techniques I’m learning?
And, of course, the question that goes with it: Will I remember how to do this if I ever have to use it in a real crisis?
Almost without exception, every Krav Maga class or self defense class features many beginners who initially struggle to learn certain movements (especially ones that feature a little complexity, for example where a weapon is involved), and we all know how easy it is to become discouraged if you’re new to learning self defense or a martial art – especially when the more experienced guys are making it look so easy!
If you’re in that position right now or are just one of those (many) people who insist that they have two left feet, then I’ve got some good news for you.
Here are 3 easy ways that will help you remember the techniques you learn.
METHOD 1: USE THE “3 C’S” TO DEFINE THE BEGINNING, MIDDLE, AND END OF THE TECHNIQUE
For those folks who already practice the Elite Defence Academy International system of Krav Maga, this is an easy one, but if you don’t, then this is how it works.
In our system of Krav Maga, we recognize a sequence to every movement that we call “the 3 C’s” – Clear, Control, and Counter.
Clear means that the initial step should always be to avoid impending harm, or to pre-empt it. So, for example, that could be stepping off the line of attack, or grabbing an opponent’s arm to redirect the trajectory of a weapon, or simply adjusting a part of your body so that it’s less vulnerable to injury (for example in a choke situation).
Control means… well, we take control of the opponent and the situation. This could mean locking firmly onto a weapon arm, or stepping into a position that gives you a momentary timing advantage over an assailant, or tripping, yanking, or pushing an opponent to break his balance.
Counter is the obvious one, and it’s the one that all eager-beaver beginners want to get to as quickly as possible. Counterattacking is the name of the game in self defense, and it’s of course the moment at which you deliver a series of strikes to neutralize an opponent, or you strip the weapon away from him, or throw him to the ground / through the window / stick something sharp into him, and so on. The good old fight finisher.
The problem, though, is that many folks concentrate so hard on the first step that they lose the “road map” to get to the final step. Or, they’re so eager to get to the counterattack that they rush through the first two steps, which of course then become a confused blur in their minds.
The solution is to apply the “3 C’s” formula to everything you learn. Ask yourself: which part is the Clear? Which is the Control? And where does the Counter start?
(If you’re not sure or can’t figure it out, then ask your instructor to help.)
By breaking a technique down into these 3 (critically important) steps, you’re giving your brain a template that it can apply to every other technique, and that’s actually the equivalent of being given a key that fits every lock. The neural pathway that is formed by doing this then becomes an unconscious habit, and something amazing will happen: you’ll soon find yourself “getting” techniques in a fraction of the time you used to, and in fact, sometimes even instantaneously.
METHOD 2: ADJUST THE VOLUME
Sometimes we play a piece of music at low volume, so it’s a pleasant background ambience that enables us to concentrate or relax, and the lyrics or the tune just wash over us. It’s during those times that we grow to love a particular song, learn the lyrics, and add or delete items from our playlist.
At other times, though, a much-loved song comes on, and all you wanna do is crank it up. It’s an anthem, it’s the best part of your life, it expresses exactly how you’re feeling right now, and everyone else should share in the awesomeness, dammit. And let’s be honest: some songs just can’t be played at low volume.
Weirdly, self defense techniques are the same.
We learn them like gentle background music, getting a handle on the lyrics and humming the tune as they start to resonate with us. But no way in hell are we going to hum gently if we go to a live concert and there are fifty thousand screaming fans around us. The thing is, at that point, you’re not worried about “forgetting the lyrics”, are you? That would be absurd.
So, when you practice your techniques, try playing them at different volumes (with your training partner’s consent, of course – don’t just go into concert mode on an unsuspecting partner!). By varying the intensity and speed of your techniques – and sometimes doing so in dramatic fashion – you’re actually teaching your brain something very important. You’re teaching it the distinction between practice and application. Practice is when the technique is the focus, and application is what happens when the technique is sung at full volume without thinking about the lyrics.
It’s a bit like chopping down a tree (but please don’t, because trees are precious and we want to preserve the forests). Practicing a technique is like learning how to hold the axe, how to swing it, what angle to pick, how to make the tree fall in a certain direction, and so on. Application is simply getting to work on the task: at that point you don’t analyze how you’re holding the axe, and you certainly don’t “forget” how to swing the thing.
So, if you do tend to worry about whether you’ll shape up in a crisis, or turn into a puddle of brainless jelly, worry no more. Play your techniques at different intensities and speeds, and I promise you, your body will know what to do on judgement day.
METHOD 3: PAINT A PICTURE
Your conscious mind operates in a logical, linear fashion: it speaks the language of logic, structure, reason, numeracy, and pattern recognition, and decides based on seemingly tangible evidence what is and isn’t possible.
By contrast, your subconscious mind speaks the language of visions, dreams, emotions, intuitive leaps of recognition, magic, ritual, and symbolic literalism, in a universe where nothing is impossible.
Guess which one rules your life?
The easiest way to learn – and embed – a technique is to pitch it to the part of your mind that can grasp it the quickest and easiest, and not only produce it again at any time, but even improve it without your knowledge.
Your conscious mind processes around 40 bits of information per second, but your subconscious mind processes around 40 million bits of information per second.
So how do you embed a technique in your subconscious mind, then?
The answer: pictures and feelings.
The two most powerful triggers that you can use here are visualization and emotion. With each technique you learn, make a habit of “seeing” it from the outside – from the perspective of an observer – in your own mind. And, as you do, imagine how it would feel to be doing the technique confidently and fluidly, like a true expert. This shouldn’t just be an abstract thought, though – it needs to arouse an emotion in you (one of pride, satisfaction, and celebration).
Remember the last time you won a prize, or received a really awesome gift? Remember how you felt? Channel that emotion, and your subconscious mind will pay attention – and, more than that, it will perceive the technique as a positive experience that it will want to play with.
And... it's that simple.
Feel free to try these methods. You might find that one works particularly well for you, or that they all do. But I promise you this: if you do take the time to try them out, and do it diligently, then your ability to remember and apply self defense techniques will skyrocket.
Want to find out more about effective, intelligent self defense? Click here to see a list of our clubs, or here to find out more about online training. And if you have any specific questions I can help you with, please pop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll assist you with pleasure.