Repetition is vital in martial arts training. Repetition of movement teaches your body how you want it to react in a stressful situation without having to think in the moment. The time it takes in order to think when split seconds count could be the difference between life and death. If you have to take the time to think how to react, the fight is lost.
Two types of repetition need to be practiced in martial arts training:
- Repetition of movements to build skill in the techniques
2. Repetition of scenarios to build a correct reaction to a situation.
Repetition of movements:
When a student takes up martial arts his body has difficulty understanding many of the movements. It feels awkward and uncoordinated. The body tries to do the movement but for some reason it just doesn’t work the way he is picturing it. Very often a person’s mind can understand the movement, but the body just doesn’t know how to follow the command. With a bit of perseverance the body can be taught how to respond correctly to the thought – body and mind acting as one. This is taught through repetition. The more the body repeats a movement, the more it understands it. The more it understands it, the easier it becomes to perform until eventually there is no thought left in the process at all. It just happens. Through repetition the skill of the movement is honed. The body adjusts and evolves in order to physically manifest what the mind has perceived. Techniques become smoother, faster, more powerful and aesthetically pleasing. The process becomes ingrained into the muscles themselves. Through constant repetition the student becomes more familiar with his own body. He starts to understand body mechanics, the length of his limbs and the amount of time it takes to throw his techniques. He is no longer just throwing a hand or foot out there; he is delivering a purposeful technique.
Repetition of scenarios (drills):
It is no use having the physical skills if a student does not know how to apply them. Practicing and repeating drills and scenarios against common attacks will teach a person’s body how to instinctively react in a given situation. A student will teach his body what technique to throw at what distance and what angle. With the added pressure of a person throwing a technique at him it becomes imperative to react accordingly or he may end up getting injured. By practicing drills with a partner (or partners) it makes the scene a little bit more “real” while still being in a controlled environment. With enough repetition the student no longer has to think about his reaction to the situation. It just happens. The body will “remember” how to move and react without any added thought process. Of course, in a real fight anything can happen – it is dynamic. There is no guarantee that a person is going to be attacked in the way that he has practiced or created in his mind, but through practicing of drills the student becomes accustomed to having aggressive attacks thrown at him and is better able to handle the pressure and react accordingly. A true understanding of timing and distancing for techniques is learned and the student is able to throw back effectively.
The repetition of movements and drills need to come together as one in a situation. The body should be able to throw effective techniques in response to any attack that may come its way. The more something is repeated, the more natural it becomes until there is no longer any thought in the action or reaction. This is how it should be in the martial arts and real self-defence. The body’s natural reaction should be what you have trained it to do over thousands of repetitions. Repetition takes much of the guess work out. Repetition helps to ease the panic and confusion that a person may feel when he finds himself in an undesirable situation. He will often have the feeling of, “I’ve done this before.”
Take the time. Be repetitive in your martial arts technique and drills. You will be glad of the benefits you receive in the long term.