Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

The more complex a motor skill is, the more repetition is required to make it instinctive, smooth and efficient. Let me tell you a little story to illustrate what I mean.

About 2 years ago I decided to work on a specific armbar escape. To do this particular escape you need to do 3 things nearly simultaneously: twist your arm and shoulder, bridge your hips to the side (not up) and run your feet away from your opponent in a half circle. This is a fairly complex movement, so I drilled it a lot: every class I’d grab someone, ask them to lightly armbar me, and I would practice this technique 5, 10 or 20 times.

Not surprisingly this escape started working really well for me. I used it in sparring all the time and even in competition. Life was good.

Then this escape stopped working: I would try using it but my timing and technique just weren’t up to snuff. After some reflection I realized what had happened. Because the technique had been working for me in sparring I started taking it for granted and had stopped drilling it – I just wasn’t getting the repetition I needed to keep this complex technique well oiled and ready for action.

The solution was obvious, and I now try to get some repetition of this movement at least once a week. My timing is coming back and I think that this technique will soon become part of my ‘A game’ once again.

The more complex a motor skill is, the more repetition is required to make it instinctive, smooth and efficient.

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