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Three Rules of Mastery

Blogalupagus here. Thanks for reading this post! Hopefully you are enjoying all of our blog page’s literature and I hope you are getting a little something extra outside of training with all of this. This week I’d like to talk about one of my methodologies and I call it the “Knowledge-Base Matrix.” Its goal is to introduce to anyone new into martial arts training (or ANY new training for that matter) how they can optimize their learning without becoming frustrated, getting injured, or burning out. It has three simple rules: 1. Train your mind, 2. Train your body, and 3. Train your craft. Without further ado, here it is.

The Three Simple Rules: Mastering the Chronology of Skill Improvement.

1. Train your mind: You cannot train the other two fully without starting with this one. Training your body without a plan can cause you injuries and setbacks. This takes a conscious and mindful study of what you are engaging in, your abilities and its starting points. Then, being aware of your progress, checkpoints and goals.

2. Train your body: Training the body isn’t just about lifting weights and running on a treadmill. The understanding of the body at a physiological level, the understanding of the brain and its components (like the hypothalamus; responsible for voluntary and involuntary responses, hormones and endocrine function), and increasing the body’s threshold and abilities to improve. This is a growth process that requires conscious and focused training (See what I did there? Go back to number one so you can optimize number 2).

3. Train your craft: How well do you know your body, its engine, and its learning system and how well do you understand it when it demands change? Basically, if you are a fish you cannot teach yourself to climb a tree. However, if you DO WANT to climb a tree, you must evolve into the process of becoming an amphibian first so you can get on land (and find this tree you want to climb).

Learning about putting together the mind, body and craft as a training skill set involves creating new neural pathways. These pathways only unlock when you satisfy all of its needs and requirements. These function as part of a whole but also dissectible into its smaller components. Consider this knowledge-base matrix of a (straight punch) jab:

Seeing this grid on its own tells a minimal story of how to execute a jab. The lack of complexity alone dictates that the technical aspect is lacking and is comparable to a bar brawl sloppy drunken punch or a novice at best. As in this person may throw it but it does not guarantee that it would be successful.

Train your mind: Before getting onto the mat, make a plan on how to improve your skill set. Analyze how the best students on the mat start and finish the way they punch. Visualize in your mind’s eye, which part of the hand lands first. This is the priority of the three rules at this level.

Train your body: When you shadowbox, take a look at the mirror and synchronize your movements with the proper mechanics. We live in a technology age, record yourself and compare what you see on camera versus what you interpret during your training.

Train your craft: Allow yourself to slow down to get the mechanics properly. Remember that sometimes less is more. 100 punches does not bear weight to learning versus 50 quality punches focused on technique. Allow yourself to be critiqued by your instructor and focus on those movements until you have mastered them.

Look at this in comparison to the last:

Through good planning, resilience and execution, you will unlock your potential and get better at this skill. This grid looks far more complex and is indicative of a better understanding of fundamentals of throwing that same jab. Having these skills enables you (the student) to function at an intermediate capacity and thus increases the chances of landing your punch against your opponent.

Train your mind: Constant reevaluation is key to making improvements. Have you made any improvements to this skill? How many ways can you execute this technique successfully in live application? Be aggressive with your development and ask your instructor for advice on fine tuning this application.

Train your body: Now that you have better mechanics, are you able to execute this technique under pressure and fatigue? This is a great time to prioritize this rule because stamina and endurance unlocks potential when your mind hits a wall. Therefore, application during sparring when you are fatigued will show you whether you are going to be successful in this skill.

Train your craft: Have you acquired training scars (bad habits) along the way? This is common in training settings because our body creates neural pathways and these pathways become habits. During training, allow yourself to change these patterns.

Let’s take a look at this next one:

Every extra detail in this matrix denotes getting closer to mastery of the jab. Every time you work on this skill (among many other skills) you get better so long as you are making a conscious effort on improvement.

Train your mind: Longevity is key. Stagnation comes from losing the drive and dedication to learn and get better. Complacency not only keeps you in the same position but also can provide setbacks.

Train your body: Things do not get easier you get better. Better means you are capable of enduring more than you did on your first day of training. Remember giving yourself appropriate time for recovery is as important as pushing your limits.

Train your craft: You guessed it right. This is the priority rule at this level. You cannot ease or stop at what you perceive is mastery that is called complacency. Instead of easing up on your pursuit of mastery, this is where you need to get messy and double down on becoming goal oriented.

This jab is just an example. The true testament of mastery lies in the constant pursuit of expanding your knowledge-base matrix collectively. Its complexity can be expanded in the same proportion as improvement of proficiency. As long as the student’s knowledge-base (matrix) is in line with the penchant to learn technical abilities, progression is certain and attainable.

Hope you enjoyed this post and this encouraged you to double down on your pursuit of your best self.

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