*Why Training Is So Important*
By: R-squared
2010 January 11

I wanted to share a very interesting/funny thing happen last week that demonstrates why training is so important.

When you train, you develop muscle memory. At first, any new activity seems awkward. As you do “it” more and more, you develop muscle memory, and “it” becomes easier and easier until you can do that activity almost without thinking about it – your muscles just do it. This statement is true for everything from brushing your teeth to field striping a weapon to performing in a sport. Training and practice are the keys to developing muscle memory. For any activity that is critical that you can perform in a crunch situation, you WANT muscle memory for that activity so that your body will just “do it” when you need it. My particular example is with karate and self defense.

As a background, I started “karate” about 3.5 years ago. I have a black belt and am training for my 2nd degree black belt test later this year. As with any new activity, when I started, every punch and kick felt awkward. The thing about training in the martial arts is that you are constantly learning new material so you always feel awkward. This being the case, you lose sight of all the material that is now “easy” and for which you actually have developed muscle memory.

My sensei is running a 3-week self-defense class for families to teach them some basic self-defense material. If you have a member of your family training in the marital arts, it is encouraged that they go with you to the classes. We thought this was a good training opportunity for our family, so off to class we went.

In one of the exercises, everyone started off learning a simple block. After some practice, a simple punch was added. Here is the funny part, I could do the block only (it is something I have muscle memory for) but I could not do that simple block-punch combination. Every time I tried, I blocked, I punched, and then continued “doing something” until I could stop myself. In class, we train to either do a specific sequence of blocks and punches or to not stop until the person is down and out (nomine). Because the muscle memory is so ingrained at this point, I couldn’t stop with that simple block-punch combination, even though I wanted to. I had to keep going until I could consciously made myself stop three to six moves later.

There are many areas in prepping that we need to have “muscle memory” for so that we can perform in a crunch situation. Here are some simple questions I want to pose based on this example. Are you training to the point that your muscle memory is so ingrained that you can do your activities without thinking? Have you tried those areas lately that you think you have muscle memory in? Did you really have muscle memory and is it still there or are you a little rusty?

Maybe with the new year upon us, one of the items we should add to our “to do lists” is to evaluate what activities we need muscle memory for and what activities we need to work on. Training is part of prepping, too.

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