Building skill is quite often the result of hundreds of hours or repetitious training in basic movements. We hear stories of famous athletes who train hours every day. This will make nearly anybody into a skilled practitioner who can truly focus in this way.

Anybody who starts this way is bound to suffer disappointment because few people have the stamina to do this instantly. One’s training should begin gradually. A habit must be created. To be realistic, one could use a timer to keep the time spent realistic. If you tell a partner that you are going to spend 15 minutes practicing, set the timer for 15 minutes and have a bell or buzzer go off at the end. This is your signal and everybody else that your training this morning is finished. Everybody has a schedule and you can do another 15 minutes later or not.

To build reflexes and skills, you must repeat the same turning stance, advancing step or punches. It cannot be utterly mindless. You must focus on the positions. Do not stand motionless, contemplating the universe. Keep moving. Mistakes happen along the way. Not every turn, step or punch will be perfect. Your mind learns from mistakes. Each time, try to do better. Find out why you constantly do the same thing wrong. The movements will eventually seep into your brain and body. The human body is an amazing thing. The human nervous system is, indeed, a system. The nerves are specialized. Repetitive action is taken care of by the “little brain” which is the part of the brain just above the spinal cord. The intellectual part of the brain is the Cerebrum. The “little brain” is called the Cerebellum. This is the part that ‘remembers’ the movement you practiced in its own specialized way.

You can build on the above practice by increasing your speed and intent. If your object is to build attack speed, you must imagine an attacker that you need to defeat or defend against and you are going to step faster and punch straighter. By this time, you will have to have stronger joints and connective tissues created by repetitious practice. You can also develop a drill just like your solo drill to work with a partner to accomplish something a little better.

If your object is to decrease your telegraphing a punch, have your partner pull the coaching mitt away if they detect your movement, twitch, blink, etc. ahead of the punch.

It is consistency that gets results. Doing a repetive drill once or twice in isolation will not do it. Happy training!

-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg