Muscle Memory - How Many Reps

Discussion in 'Wing Chun' started by Kanoy919, Aug 16, 2006.

  1. Kanoy919

    Kanoy919 Green Belt

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    Greetings All!

    Has anybody heard any mention of how many repititions a technique needs to be done before you have built up great muscle memory for that technique? I guess hours would also do as I could calculate by multiplying hours x approx. reps/hour.

    I'm just starting out (first class was last week). I was practicing a couple basic moves that I was taught and I just set a goal to repeat them 500 times a day until my next class(which is once a week for now). On my way to work, I started to think that somebody must have a rough number that I could use in my training and that number should be close to what is required to build up some great muscle memory (e.g., 30,000).

    I'm not sure if I'm asking a valid question or not. Just asking it makes me also think about the time portion of the equation. If I repeated a technique 30,000 in 30 years(example), does that mean I have built up muscle memory for that technique?

    Your thoughts?

    Just curious!
     
  2. SFC JeffJ

    SFC JeffJ Grandmaster

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    Not a WC practioner myself, but I've always been told and have read somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 times. Correctly.

    Jeff
     
  3. Andrew Green

    Andrew Green Grandmaster

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    I don't think it is that simple...

    How many times must you use long division for it to become natural? I'd like a number? How many times did you sign your name before it became automatic? See the point?

    Be careful with the 500 a day, that seems too high for most people. You'll fatigue and get sloppy, better off doing 50 proper rather then 500 if you want to improve.
     
  4. Kanoy919

    Kanoy919 Green Belt

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    Andew,

    Yes, I see your point, but I do think that you can build muscle memory by repeating something many times. Or, at least teach your body how to do/react.

    I learned to ride a bike and rode for many years as a child(maybe I rode 10,000 times). If I don't ride a bike for 20 years, I'm sure my body will still know what to do if I get on a bike. just might not be as good as I was when I was riding on a regular basis.

    Also, thanks for stating that the 500 times may be to high. I'll look at that number again. My plan is to break it up through-out the day (say 100 punches at a time, 5 times a day as an example). Kind of like my ab work-out (gotta keep the 6pack ya!). And of course, I'll focus on ensuring the technique is done properly.

    Thanks again!

    Cheers
     
  5. 7starmantis

    7starmantis Grandmaster

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    I dont know that there is a precise number that finalizes "muscle memory". In my opinion you never really "master" or complete the muslce memory for a technique, thats why basics are still so important as an advanced practitioner. Obviously the more you do it the better it will become ingrained in your muslce memory, but I dont think there is ever a time you can just stop and it will remain in your muscle memory like it was when you learned it.

    As to the long division example Andrew gave, we are talking specifically of phsyical or muscular "memory" and not cerebral memory. Whiel they are connected they are not the same. Muslce memory is a huge part of fighting in my humble opinion, but like everything else is not the end all be all of it. It is merely one piece of a larger puzzle.

    7sm
     
  6. punisher73

    punisher73 Senior Master

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    I have heard from sport psychs that it is 3,000 to 5,000 reps. This can be shortened if you combine it with visualization while relaxed.

    I think a better analogy would be driving a car. When you first learn you have to think about everything you do. You have to think about hitting the breaks when something jumps in front of you, after driving for awhile it just happens.

    I have heard MA's broken down into 4 parts

    Unconscious Incompetence: You aren't aware of what you are lacking
    Conscious Incompetence: You are aware of what you are lacking
    Conscious Competence: You have the skill but still have to think about it
    Unconscious Competence: You have mastered the skilll and don't have to think about it anymore.

    It's this last stage people talk about when referring to "muscle memory" I think. The point where it "just happens" and the body responds before the mind interferes. Mindful practice is a lot better in making this happen than just rote repetition in my opinion. MA practice is a journey so take your time with it and not get burned out and quit.
     
  7. Andrew Green

    Andrew Green Grandmaster

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  8. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Grandmaster

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    A lot of the Chinese martial arts masters would say something like "do it 10,000 times, and you will master it". But this is really proverbial, and not a magic number.

    This isn't to be taken literally. It just means do it a lot, keep doing it, don't quit, do it regularly, and eventually you will be good, but you have to be committed to doing it. Mastery is a gradual, lengthy process that is probably never actually perfect. It takes a lot to develop a skill, and it takes a lot to maintain a skill, so you just keep doing it. You don't just cross a magic line by hitting a magic number.

    Don't try to analyze it in this way. It is really detrimental to your training. So you think you hit a magic number, now you have mastered a skill. So do you stop practicing it? Have you REALLY mastered it yet? Are you sure? Forget the numbers. Just keep doing it.

    And I agree with Andrew, depending on what you are doing, 500 per day might be too many. Quality over quantity is better. As you get better at it, you might be able to successfully increase quantity and maintain quality, but do it gradually.
     
  9. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Grandmaster

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    Another problem with this approach: In the beginning, when you know very little, you might be able to do this. But as you progress and you know more, you cannot keep this up. Trying to do everything 500 times per day will eventually become to overwhelming. Not enough hours in the day to get it done. But if you keep trying, you will get burned out and frustrated.

    If you want to do this for a while, that is probably OK, just understand that as you learn more, your reps will have to decrease to accomodate the new material.
     
  10. Jade Tigress

    Jade Tigress RAWR

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    I agree. I also think muscle memory is a huge part of fighting. That's how you are able to react quickly to perform an effecitve technique without thinking about it. Repitition is key in getting something into muscle memory.

    This is an important point to remember when practicing. Perfect practice makes perfect. If you repeat a technique poorly over and over again, then that poor technique is going to get into muscle memory too. jMake sure your technique is correct and well done first, then start upping the quantity.

    Sounds like you're enjoying training and are an eager student. Those attributes will serve you well. :)
     
  11. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    Exactly.

    You can throw 500 punches a day and not be punching correctly. All points from the beginning of the punch to the end must be correct.

    But think about it, what is actually involved in standing on 2 legs and walking? What systems are involved, how many muscles are required? And this did not happen over night and you didn't count reps. If you can master walking though just plain trying to walk. You will find what you are looking for through just plain training. There is no magic number, I have heard do something 2000 times, 5000 times, 10,000 time, etc. and it becomes habit but there is a rather large range there, don't worry about it, just train.

    An old Chinese MA story (I Kind of remember) is a person goes to a master and asks, If I train real hard how long will it take for me to learn you system? And the Master replies, 5 years. The person says, but what if I train very hard everyday and do nothing else? The Master says 10 years.

    Basically if you are too focused on the goal you cannot learn what is needed at the time.
     
  12. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Grandmaster

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    Ah yes, I always liked this story, but I had forgotten. There's a bit more to it. I think it went something like this:

    A young man came to a martial arts teacher and asked to become his student. The teacher agreed, and the young man asked him how long it would take to learn and master his art. The teacher replied, "at least five years."

    The young man thought about that and said, "that is really a long time. What if I train extra hard, twice as hard as the other students?"

    The teacher answered: "well, then it will take you at least ten years."

    The young man was astonished at this answer, and said, "well then I will train night and day, I will get up early and go to bed late, and stop only long enough to eat once a day, and I will train all the time! How long will it take for me to master your art?"

    The teacher replied, "then it will take you at least twenty years."

    The young man's enthusiasm was completely deflated, and he could not understand this. The thought of twenty years seemed like a long time, and he didn't know if he wanted to undertake such a task. He asked the teacher, "why do you tell me that it will take me longer, when I am willing to train so much harder than all the rest?"

    The teacher answered him, "because you are so busy looking in the distance for your goal, you fail to watch the road and you will lose your way."
     
  13. monji112000

    monji112000 Green Belt

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    Muscle mem is the key to fighting.

    your training should have phases:
    1. Getting the basic body mechanics (often you must revisit this phase)
    2. Start solo practicing, then with a live person slowly.
    3. start making "aliveness" or have the person really move and hit with intent.
    4. guided sparring were one person is mixing techniques, speed, with real intent.
    5. circle
    ect.. 6,7 ...

    each phase builds on the other, and building muscle memory. If you can't do 1 correctly without thinking, then 2-.... can't be done correctly.

    each person has their own length it takes of repetition till they have it down without thinking. Some people (myself) it takes very long, and you have to constantly go back and fix things you didn't understand at first.
    For example:
    If you can't turn your horse, then when you learn pak+da for a straight punch you will have to practice more than if you had the horse down. You will in the end have a good horse, but it will take much longer (thats from experience :( )
     
  14. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng Sr. Grandmaster

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    YES!!!!!

    That’s the one; I couldn’t remember the whole thing.

    Thanks
     
  15. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Grandmaster

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    you're welcome.
     
  16. 7starmantis

    7starmantis Grandmaster

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    Yes its an issue of perspective. Dont look at it as mastering or committing the movement to muslce memory as a static accomplishment. Its not the committing to memory that serves you well, but the continued practice that makes your skill. Only in the process of continuing the movement will it progress and increase your skill. Skill in martial arts are fighting is not static and is not something you can simply gain, you must continually increase and train it. Only the continuous doing of things can be skill, learning and stopping is simply not skill.

    IMHO,
    7sm
     
  17. Andrew Green

    Andrew Green Grandmaster

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    One other thing, for it to truly be in there, you need to be putting it too use. I don't care how many times a person punches air, they aren't going to learn to punch just from that. It's like swinging a baseball bat, but never having a ball.

    You also need to learn to hit something hard (heavy Bag), and with speed and accuracy while it is moving (mits) and at the end, the really important piece, you need to learn to hit people who are hitting back.

    You can't learn to ride a bike only using a stationary one, no matter how engrained into your brain the peddling action becomes.
     
  18. 7starmantis

    7starmantis Grandmaster

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    Very true, very true
     
  19. profesormental

    profesormental Brown Belt

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    Greetings!

    As was said before, between 3000 and 5000 is a good number, and using proper mental training, it can be cut down by 10 to 100 times.

    That is just muscle memory and structure.

    It is important to note that the application of the technique does not occur in a vacuum... it happens in a context and a situation.

    Preparation for the movements without preparation for the situation with proper mental training and intent...

    will make you forget your skill at the time when you need it!

    Training should be geared to address the mental state and phisiology of the fight-type situation so that when you really are in that state, yous skills will be there and activated unconsciously and immediately.

    Training too relaxed will make it so that when you're in a confrontation, that has tension and anger, you will use the skills attached to the tension-confrontation type situation...

    which normally doesn't look anything like Wing Chun or any structured martial art!

    My teachers call it "loosing your art".

    and as was said in the first UFC:

    "I just saw swinging!"

    Enjoy!

    Juan M. Mercado
     
  20. Kanoy919

    Kanoy919 Green Belt

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    Thanks everyone for your responses!
     

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