We talk about practice an awful lot; well, training anyway. This article is a follow up to an article we did a little while back titled Practice makes perfect… Or does it? In that article we discussed practicing, training, and the difference. This week, we are talking about practice, and what it does to us, or for us.
As the title of this article states, practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent. We can practice all day long, but if we are not improving, we are only making our inability permanent. Yeah, I said it. If you stink, and never improve, you are going to be really good at being lousy.
Well then, how do I improve? Great question! With time, and proper instruction. A good teacher combined with dedicated time to practice will help you improve. Easily formulated, complexly accomplished; I know. But, as my Mamma always said, “nothing worth doing is easy”; or if you prefer “anything worth doing, is worth doing right”.
So, back to this permanent thing. Have you ever heard of muscle memory? If you have been around us here at Strategic Defense Group for very long at all, you know we are sticklers, and quite picky about semantics. Muscle memory is a common term and generally accepted. However, there is no such thing. Muscles cannot create memory. Muscle memory is simply motor learning through procedural memory. Basically, we do something so much, we do not have to think about doing it any more. For example, if you type on a keyboard a lot, or play an instrument a great deal, you fingers just go to where they need to go to do what you want; you don’t have to tell yourself, hey left index finger: place yourself on the third fret on the A string (for guitar).
Muscle memory is actually procedural memory? Yes. So is practicing to permanency bad then? NO! It is a great blessing! However, there is an underlying danger… The horrific “training scars” *gasp*! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, training scars are very real, and very dangerous. These nightmarish things can come from no training, or worse yet, bad training and instruction. A training scar is:A procedure or process learned and practiced into a procedural memory that is wrong and or dangerous. We will pick up training scars in another article.
You were saying that there is a good side to training to permanency?.. Oh yes! There are many, too many to list in any singular entry or book even, advantages to procedural memory. Everything that is not bad, is good. Learning where all the functions on your firearm are and keeping your knife or keys in the same exact spot all the time are good examples of major positives.
I am a monumental fan of consistency. It makes us better at everything we do. Through being consistent, we develop procedural memory, and that is our friend. Thanks to Hyper-vigilance and the need to move we know that our brain does not function like normal in combat, we have to have a plan already. That is precisely why practice making permanent can be a good thing.
Take your time, and do it right. If you shave corners in training and practice, you will surely do it in combat; and cutting corners in combat will get you killed… If you do not make a tight fist when you train punching the air you will make a weak fist in combat. Then on your very first punch, you will break your hand, and be down in the fight. Do not give your opponent that gift. Take a little extra time, make a little extra effort, and find a good teacher; then you will be the best.
What can we learn?
- Practice makes permanent, not perfect
- Permanent is not a bad thing, unless it is, then, you better fix it and now!
- Muscle memory is not real, it is a lazy way of saying Motor learning through procedural memory
- Training scars are real, and real scary. Once procedural memory is established, it takes some time and effort to correct
- Procedural memory is a real blessing, take full advantage of it!