A few weeks ago, I was training a student to apply arm locks with a slightly different approach than he was used to. Having trained over 8 years in an another style of Jiu-jitsu before moving to Vancouver and training at our dojo, he has already developed a good “lock sense”, so showing him this different approach that is really efficient in terms of energy, but harder to apply, requiring greater fine motor control, was something I knew he would be able to handle.
For certain locks, it was easy enough for him, but there was one particular lock that he had trouble using this approach on. Over and over, he tried the entry and was struggling to get it. Then I had an idea.
“Try doing it with your eyes closed,” I told him. He went along with my suggestion and the next one he did was done perfectly.
Trusting Your Tactile Instincts
As you gain more experience in the martial arts, you get more in touch with your tactile sense. In many ways, our sense of touch is more efficient at communicating the information we need to refine our technique. It provides us instant feedback that our bodies can immediately respond to without thought, more so than our senses of sight and hearing.
In the case of my student, he was measuring his movement using his sight more so than simply feeling it, and in this particular case, what he saw was misleading. In the correct position of this particular lock, it looks like you don’t have a enough control over their body to get the lock on and maintain it, but it’s quite the opposite in this particular application. When it looked like he was going to lose control, he would adjust his position to compensate, which took him out of the optimal position for the lock. When he closed his eyes, however, he could immediately feel when the lock was in the best place, and went into position without even thinking about it, simply because it just felt right.
Of course, if you’re not naturally a kinaesthetic learner, you may still need to rely more on visual and auditory cues when starting out, but as you develop as a martial artist, you’ll probably start to find that your tactile senses will gradually start to become more primary in your learning at higher levels. And that’s when it really starts to get fun! At the higher levels, we even introduce blindfolded training to help encourage this practice.
Have you ever tried closing your eyes to work out a technique? If so, please share your experiences with this in the comments.