Those who are students of martial arts understand that there is an enormous mental component to the practice. Just as martial arts can improve mental health – thanks to its tenets and philosophies that relate to self-discipline, integrity, and other positive traits –psychology can also inversely help improve martial arts technique. Sport psychology, in particular, can enhance the performance of a martial arts student, through the development of mental skills.
Here’s how to improve martial arts technique through psychology:
Behavioral conditioning contends that physical practice leads to better, more efficient performance. Repetition is a large part of any martial arts class, whether it’s practicing kicks or punches, memorizing forms, or otherwise. Through physical practice of these techniques, a student can build confidence and master them at his or her own pace. When presented with a scenario where the student has to perform those maneuvers, while sparring or in a tournament for example, he or she will be conditioned to simultaneously react accordingly and plan for their next move.
Focus is much more than a command that martial arts teachers use while instructing a class. It’s a mental skill that, while difficult to acquire, is very important to any martial arts student. Techniques like centering oneself (through being in a quiet environment where you can deal with distractions), and thought awareness (addressing negative thoughts and irrational thinking) can help improve mental focus. By developing and mastering focus, you can make the most of your body’s capabilities and the training that you’ve received.
Mindfulness goes hand-in-hand with focus. Being mindful of your own thoughts, of your skills, of your body’s abilities, and being present in the moment are paramount in martial arts. While techniques can be honed through physical practice and muscle memory, mindfulness is necessary for mastering and commanding those same techniques. Through expert mindfulness, students can better perform difficult techniques under extreme pressure (such as in a martial arts tournament or a belt promotion exam ). In addition to performing these techniques properly, mindfulness can also bring spirit and intensity to your movements that will captivate judges and the audience.
Learn to Teach
Those who have attended classes at martial art schools will know that teachers are equally responsible for his or her students as much as the students are accountable for each other. While a teacher may initially teach his or her student the techniques, mastering said skills depends on the students improving through the help of one another.
Many studies have shown that one of the best ways to learn is by teaching. Whether you goal to someday become a teacher at your martial arts school or simply spar with a skilled peer, you will master those trickier techniques sooner.
Set Realistic Goals
Martial arts are lifelong pursuits; there are hundreds of techniques to master and there is always room for improvement. To accelerate your progress, set realistic training goals that are achievable within a specific timeframe. Setting goals can help you mentally compartmentalize higher difficulty tasks that you may not otherwise be able to achieve. Break down bigger goals into smaller, more manageable ones, to ensure that you can realistically achieve them. Share these goals with other students and your instructor, who can then give you the support and guidance you need to achieve them.
With martial arts, one cannot rise to expert-level physical techniques without also tapping into his or her mind. By understanding that martial arts techniques can be improved through psychology, you’ll be able to reach new levels in your martial arts practice.
What are other psychology tricks or methods you employ, to help you improve your martial arts technique? Let us know on our Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Google+ , to stay up-to-date with all of your ChampionsWay news.