It is a fact that the human brain cannot distinguish between a real experience and a vividly imagined one. If you have ever awoken in the middle of the night from a horrible nightmare to find yourself soaked in sweat or clenching your fists or moving around at all, you have just experienced the mind’s (and therefore the body’s) reaction to just such an event.
Top level coaches and practitioners in all disciplines, athletic an non-athletic, all share one training method: concentrated mental imagery and the use of the imagination as a training tool. Simply put, the best boxers, baseball players, public speakers, bowlers, archers, chess players-you name it-ALL make use of this technique.
You’re the Commander of This Ship
Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon, discovered that although he was able to fix or correct damn near any issue he was given on the outside, many of his patients told him they saw no difference in their appearance. Through diving into the study of the mind, he discovered that people do not see with their eyes but with their brains, and that their perception of themselves is based on their beliefs about themselves not on reality; in essence, their beliefs shape their reality. And thus, a landmark system of mental training was born.
“That’s all well and good,” you’re probably thinking, “but what the hell does this have to do with Wing Chun training?” Everything.
Ever been too tired to train? Me too.
Ever had to work late and have it fuck up your whole schedule? Me too.
Ever be pumped up one day and then be knocked on your rump by a cold or flu the next? Me too.
Now there is never an excuse not to train. Simply find a place that is quiet and peaceful. Lie down or sit in a comfortable chair. Take a nice deep breath, exhale, and begin your training-in your head.
The Benefits of Training, The Luxury of Your La-Z-Boy
Try the following:
Perform the first form, Siu Nim Tao, completely in your head.
Feel your knees bend and your feet turn outward, then inward to make your stance as you picture it in your mind. Feel your hips tuck and your glutes squeeze as you lock in your stance. Feel your feet grip the ground. And so on. Each motion you do should be seen in your mind’s eye and felt in your body. Do this throughout the entire form.
Feel yourself performing each motion, feel yourself doing each technique perfectly and as you do each technique, you feel stronger and stronger in your skills. You feel like a snowball of skill and power, building on itself. In the words of Dr. Maltz, you “see yourself at your best,” and reinforce it the more you do it. This trickles down from the brain to the body. Don’t worry about how, just trust that it does-’cause it does.
Once you get in the groove, you will literally be able to train on demand-anywhere, anytime, anyplace.
Most importantly, not only are you just thinking about training, or just picturing training, you are feeling each motion as you do it mentally-and that is what makes for reality.
Poison To Well Water
Here is a scenario far too many of us are affected by yet don’t or can’t change: have you ever felt fear, intimidation or hesitation about an upcoming tournament or class session? Have you ever had to deal with the demons of self-doubt or merciless self-criticism? Oh yeah, I’ve been there more times than I can remember or even care to. In fact, if you’re like me the main issue has never been discipline in finding time to train or toughing out hard sessions; rather it has been training my mind to repel and ignore thoughts of hesitation, fear and inadequacy.
Allowing those to take root in your mind are truly akin to dumping poison down a well. Fortunately, this method of mental training systematically reprograms the mind, allowing you to truly “see yourself at your best.”
I look back and see how many years I was not operating on all cylinders, not because of an injury or lack of ability but simply because my self-confidence and belief in my ability was being sabotaged like a computer virus on a subconscious level.
I can remember training and training and still not being able to shake the feelings of nervousness, fear and inadequacy in myself or my abilities. What did I do? I did what anyone without the right knowledge would do-I made up my mind that the answer was just to train more. When I look back at the amount of blood, sweat and tears I put in, all the ass-beatings I took, all the hours spent and still having to deal with all the mental baggage bullshit I swear that if I wasn’t the type that believes that things unfold exactly as and when they are meant to (which I do) for our greatest benefit, I’d be one pissed off dude.
The good thing is now that I have been aware of this and have been using it, I am night and day more confident in my abilities, much more efficient in my training and one hell of a lot more aggressive, assertive and, put bluntly, mean in my application of techniques. What was the turning point? Getting my mind right. Getting past the feelings of self-doubt was key.
Am I 100% there? No. None of us ever will be until they chuck us in a pine box. But I’m a lot closer than where I was for years and years, and that’s what matters to me.
Start Small, Build Momentum
Once you do the first form, do the second, perform each of the drills you do in class and especially those that give you trouble completely in your head with full feeling.
Feel yourself succeeding at everything, doing it effortlessly and you soon will be.
See and feel yourself as powerful, strong, relaxed and confident.
Put the feeling into it and soon it will present in your training. There’s no way that it can’t. Once you start applying the ideas of Mental Rehearsal, you’ll see why all the top folks in any area or activity do this. Good stuff.
Remember the words of reality self-defense pioneer Tony Blauer,“if you’re facing one opponent and you doubt yourself, you’re outnumbered.”
Wise words, indeed.
Train smart, Stay Safe