The Importance of Muscle Memory in Martial Arts
What Is Muscle memory?
Muscle memory is when your muscles react on instinct rather than a conscious thought process. It is the adaptation of muscle. Daily tasks such as walking, writing and driving a car are all possible due to muscle memory. Rather than needing to think about a task or action, your muscles react naturally allowing fluid movement.
Initially an unfamiliar movement is slow and requires a lot of the brains attention, but through repetition, the movement becomes faster and fluid, requiring less attention from the brain. The muscle develops to acommadate the movement and, through time, becomes faster and more efficient.
Gaining Muscle Memory
Muscle memory is obtained through repeating a process over and over again. Your brain has to recognise the muscles’ capacity to move a certain way and adapt it to meet the requirement. The muscle then changes to perform a task.
For example, a guitarist starts off having to consciously think about which finger to put on which string. This requires alot of attention from the brain. But through repeating the sequence, the guitarist will, over time, be able to play chords easily without having to think about it. What happens is the brain, as the muscles developes, moves the command from the conscious to the sub-conscious mind, making the movement a reflex.
With muscle memory there is short-term and long-term memory. Short-term memory is weak and easily forgotten, where long-term memory is more stable.
Achieving long term memory takes time and patience to achieve and constant repetition.
Muscle Memory And Martial Arts
Muscle memory plays an important part in all martial arts. On the physical side, martial arts require speed, strength, stamina and flexibility. On the mental side, it requires patience, discipline, motivation and commitment.
In the training, fine tuning a technique or improving your reaction time can be achieved through the correct muscle memory repetition.
It is vital to train your muscles correctly. A technique tought incorrectly to the muscle is extremely difficult to correct. This can also be known as a bad habit. You can not undo a muscles’ memory, but you can retrain it. This takes alot of time and patience.
In combat, muscle memory allows you to block attacks and react quickly on instinct. This keeps your conscious mind calm and allows you to think, avoiding stress and panic which can lead to serious injury or strain to the muscles and your body.
You can observe the fine tunings of muscle memory training with great martial artists such as Bruce Lee, Jet Lee and Jackie Chan. Through years of practice and training, they have trained their muscles in their varies techniques to react as a reflex. Without the mental willpower, none of them would have achieved their goals.
It is important to remember how to train your muscles properly to avoid injuries, such as lifting a weight that’s too heavy wich can result in ripping or pulling a muscle.
Time and patience is needed for the training efficiency of muscle memory.