On Memory (Wrestling)

On Hand-Fighting
August 22, 2013
On Nutrition
August 26, 2013

If you want to learn anything fast, it is important to understand how you learn

I spend a lot of my studying about how the brain forms memories. I find it incredibly important because memory is a bottleneck to learning. I’ve worked very hard to improve my ability to learn quickly, and as a result I’ve learned an exorbitant amount of information that is relevant to learning wrestling quickly. If you want to learn anything fast, it is important to understand how you learn.
The bulk of my research has been done at pmemory.com using the Giordano Memorization System (GMS). I’ve done the research for you, but if you are interested in the validity of my arguments, that would be the best place to start.


With that said:

Memory is the most important concept to take into consideration when learning high level wrestling. If a wrestler is good it is because his body reflexively remembers what to do from each situation. You learn this based on a combination of drilling and live wrestling experience. Your wrestling ability is primarily an act of memory.
In order to understand how to go from ‘learning a move’ to having the move as a ‘reflexive mechanism’ (owning the move) we must understand the way that the brain stores memories. The secret to learning faster is to understand the best way to present information to your brain so that time is not wasted with superfluous repetition.
It takes 4 days to build a reflex connection in your brain. A reflex connection is a connection that combines more than one of your analytical systems (vision, hearing, moving, etc.) with a stimulus. Once a reflex has been built, it will not be forgotten, it is literally hardwired to your brain.
4 Days is all it takes with the proper spacing of recall. The amount of times that a move is drilled is not the best determinant of how well it will be memorized (reflexively). What is important is the time in-between drilling the move.


How we forget things:

If I tell you that my middle name is Scott and then ask you what my middle name is 20 minutes later, you will probably remember. If I ask you what my middle name is 1 year from now, you will probably not remember. In order to understand how to memorize, we are interested in the exact moment of “forgetting” so that we can review just before that happens. When information is reviewed just before it is forgotten your brain effectively renews the information and will remember it for an even longer period of time before forgetting again.


To remember that my middle name is Scott:

Recall that my middle name is Scott within the first hour of learning it. Then within 3 hours perform another recall (before you forget it), then within 6 hours, then within 12, then within 24, then within 3 days, then within a week, then within 2 weeks, than within a month, etc…. As long as you review something before it is forgotten, you will extend the time for which you remember it.
This type of memory is referred to as electric memory. The difference between electric memory and reflex memory is that reflexes last forever once formed(unless actively modified) because they are hardwired to your nervous system.


Wrestling Applications:

If you learn a new double and drill it 1000 times in a row, and then you do not drill it for a week… It is useless. It would have been a much better use of your time to space your drilling to coincide with the way that your brain forms reflexes.
Each mechanic is different and will require a different drill schedule, so I cannot give you an exact formula for drilling. With that said, drill your new moves FREQUENTLY. Instead of doing 100 at once, do 10, wait 20 minutes then do another 10, wait 30 minutes and do another 10, wait an hour to do your next 10, wait 2 hours to do your next 10, do 10 more after dinner, and do 10 more before you go to bed. Do 40 throughout the course of the next day, and 30 throughout the course of day 3, and 20 throughout the course of day 4. By now it should be a reflex (speed and power should have been gradually increased making sure not to sacrifice proper technique).
The numbers I have chosen are arbitrary. It is your job to experiment and figure out the drill schedule that will interact best with your brain. The objective is to form reflex mechanics in the least amount of time spent drilling. Do not waste time repetitively drilling a move if it is not helping it to become a reflex. Your drill time is valuable and you have other moves to be drilling which are not yet reflexive.
In a future article I will write about visual support systems for memorizing each small detail that a move requires. To reiterate the 2 main points:


1) When you first learn a new move you need time in between repetitions, but not too much time where mechanics deteriorate. Space your drilling over the course of 4 days and it will become second nature.

2) Whatever you drill becomes a reflex. If you drill incorrectly, you will reflexively move incorrectly in a match. If you drill at 70% speed, you will reflexively move at 70% speed in a match. If you drill perfectly at 100% intensity, you will naturally move that way without thinking.

It only takes 4 days to form reflexes, and you can work on several moves simultaneously. If you understand this you should be able to drastically improve your wrestling ability in a very short period of time.

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