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3 Ways to Practice Any Physical Skill

So you took some training and learned a new physical skill. Awesome! But unless we embed it into our minds in the form of muscle memory, it's at risk of fading away quickly. The trick? Taking the time to make it stick. Here's how!

This is the difference between a professional and an amateur: a professional regularly practices and masters their skills.

If it's a crucial skill intended to be used to protect yourself and others, chances are you'll be using this skill under the added pressure of stress. So if and when that time ever comes to use that skill, if you've practiced it to the point where its second nature, you can do so without a hitch under pressure. But don't expect to be able to dig into the back of your memory to pull out a skill you used 3 times two years ago when your brain is under so much stress it can't think clearly! That is beyond a reasonable expectation.

There are three main ways we can practice any physical skill to burn it into our brains as muscle memory. Whether you are learning how to sail, draw a firearm, or shoot basketball, it's all the same principles. Let's use the example of self-defence training here, since this is one of the physical skills that Tip of Spear teaches.

1. Full practice with as many components to gain an experience as close to the real life scenario you'll be performing it in as possible. For example, you'll practice doing the new self-defence technique with one or more attackers, in a real life or simulated environment with dimmer lighting, with elevated stress levels. This could include practicing the skill in the self-defence class in the gymnasium or even on the street with other students, while under additional stress such as time and elevated heart rate. This gives you as true-to-life an experience as possible so you know what to expect and how you'd actually respond in that scenario.

2. Dry drill solo practice. This can be used in situations where you can't be in the same training environment and have to work alone. You can still go through the same physical motions and work through the scenarios in your mind while you act them out physically. This has huge value as you train your body to move with precision with correct timings and builds substantial muscle memory.

3. Mentally practice in your minds eye only. Maybe you're on the train or at your office but you have a few minutes to yourself. You can completely practice the self-defence skills in your imagination without moving a muscle. The cool thing is that this is just as effective as the other two scenarios as the benefits to your brain are identical! Your brain actually cannot tell the difference between mental practice and physical practice - both are just as beneficial.

So at the end of the day, the more you can practice as described in point 1 above, the better. However, if that's not possible or realistic, points 2 and 3 are very close to being as effective.

The point is to practice regularly, whichever way you can, as often as you can to master the skills so they become second-nature.

If we take training but never use or practice it, we will forget what we learned. So why did we bother in the first place? We are only wasting our time! We are foolishly assuming we will never need it or it will magically all come back to us when we need it most. And that's irresponsible and foolhardy, to say the least!

Be a professional. Practice.

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