“For every pass I caught in a game, I caught a thousand in practice.”
We all know it – the only way to get good is to practice — a LOT.
But how often should you practice particular skills?
Is there any optimum schedule?
While Wing Chun is a relatively small and compact system, there is still more material than we can practice in a single session (unless you have 8 hour training days).
They are discussing learning things like Chinese and general knowledge information to win at Jeopardy, but I think we can extrapolate for Wing Chun purposes.
The general idea is that in learning anything, one exposure is never enough. You have to have repeated exposures to the information. In fact, the best way to learn is through spaced repetition, in which we refresh our knowledge just as we begin to forget it.
There is apparently an ideal moment to practice what you want to memorize. If you practice too soon, its a waste, but if you practice too late, and you’ve forgotten it, then you have to completely relearn it. They say the right time to practice is just at the moment you’re about to forget.
Here is a graph which represents a pattern of practice which preempts what they call the “forgetting curve.” Just before you are about to forget, you practice again.
I definitely keep forgetting certain drills, such as the more obscure and complicated of the Fak Sao drills or some of the Chin Na (standing grappling) material. Every time we train it, I practically have to start over. I think this sort of consciously “spaced repetition” pattern might be a good way to learn certain drills and skills “once and for all.” Not to say perfect them, but learn them so I can perform them competently. And as time goes by, I can work on more nuances and ways of perfecting the speed, fluidity, angle, structure, and all the other elements of good Wing Chun actions.
Since I’ve learned about 75% of the system and I’m about to start going back to class and training, I am working on a plan for how to best and most efficient way to get back up to speed. While I plan to do certain things every class (dummy, pole, heavy baat jaam do, Dragon punching) for their conditioning value, I’m thinking I might use this sort of pattern to lay out a program for training the material in the system.
Lets pick one skill as an example. In Level Two of Greg’s version of the system (and this is Gary Lam’s system and probably many of the WSL lineage), we do various drills to train Po Pai actions.
Now there are probably 40 or 50 drills we do that make up Level One and Level Two of the system (I haven’t actually counted them, but maybe I should).
This spaced repetition model suggests we should train the drill (1), then train it again not too long afterwards(2), then again in maybe twice as long(3), and then again after the same wait plus a third (4).
So we might make a schedule, listing all the drills, and then lay them out accordingly.
So we would have a training regimen that did conditioning (dummy, pole, knives, plus other stuff, such as Muay Thai on the banana bag, etc), then that days exercises from the pattern, then finish with Chi Sao to Gwoh Sau progressions (doing light free style interactions, then slowly ramping up, introducing stepping, timing and force escalations).
Food for thought!