Memory Work for Belt Tests

I have a few students who are testing for yellow belt this weekend. As always, the students have to memorize certain aspects of the curriculum and this sometimes stresses them out. They worry about forgetting what to do on a test while under pressure. I recently found a useful article about how to memorize for different learning styles, the advice from which I’ll combine in this blog post with techniques I’ve used or recommended from my own experience.

There are 3 types of learners: auditory, visual, and tactile/ kinesthetic. I’ll break down my advice into these 3 categories.

For Auditory Learners
Look for patterns within the curriculum you’re studying. In our style, similar attacks are associated with a particular takedown or throw. Once you’ve broken down the associations, categorize them on a page, writing down descriptions of each in your own words. It’s important to write them in your own words as you’ll have a stronger connection with them if you do. When doing memory work, read the attack or technique out loud, then go through the motions of the defense, for real or just in your head, while talking yourself (out loud so you can hear it) through each motion. If you’re having trouble remembering, consult your notes.

For Visual Learners

Follow the same process of categorization described above. Once you have everything grouped together accordingly on paper, colour-code the information with highlighters or coloured pens. When doing memory work, read the attack or technique, noting its assigned colour, then visualize yourself going through the technique in your head. An even better option is to go through the motions in front of a mirror so you can see yourself doing it.

For Tactile/ Kinesthetic Learners

If you’re this type of learner, it’s not a bad idea to go through the same process of categorization as the auditory and visual learners, but ultimately, you’ll learn best by actually doing the techniques, practicing them over and over. If you’re this type of learner, make the most of open training times. Don’t spend too much time talking about the techniques as this takes away valuable practice time, which is necessary for you to ingrain things into your memory. If you want to practice at home without a partner, physically go through your techniques, imagining the partner is there.

Everyone has a different style of learning. Some people use a combination of 2 or more of the different styles. If you can identify which learning style you are, you’ll be able to help yourself learn faster. Or as an instructor, if you can identify the different learning styles of your students, you’ll be able to help them better on the mats when you’re working through something with them. Personally, when I demonstrate techniques, I try to use all 3 in combination so as to have the broadest reach. I show the technique while explaining it, but I try not to take too long doing so, so that that tactile/kinesthetic learners have as much time as possible to practice.

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