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  • Visualisation in training, dont knock it until you have tried it.

    Visualisation in Training, no I'm not talking about running around thinking your Bruce Lee or Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai.

    I'm talking about a technique that could help improve your overall training, If your open to give it a try?

    For a number of years I have improved myself in several sports and working life by useing this method.
    We often hear people say they do not have time to train, or the dojo is too far away, or they can only go on seminar's once or twice a year. So this is an ideal way to improve, and use your mind in training.

    The technique is simple to master, but you must have a CLEAR picture in your mind, what it is your trying to do.
    EXAMPLE: NUKITSUKE The Drawing Cut in Iaido.
    First you must have a very clear idea of how this is performed perfectly. A book can help, or video to keep it constantly clear in the mind. Then find a place you will not be disturbed too much, close your eyes and visualise. Visualise you perform it perfectly.
    See both hands move towards the tsuka, the left hand encircles the saya with the thumb uppermost, near the koiguchi, slightly before the right hand touches the tsuka. Just as the right hand begins to grasp the tsuka, the left thumb presses almost imperceptibly forward against the edge of the tsuka pushing it forward etc, etc you get the picture.

    After a while you get so you can peform this technique whilst out walking the dog, sitting in traffic, or doing anything else were your mind is not fully active.

    Being new to Iaido, Kendo I'm still learning, but find visualisation helps me keep the various wasa in my mind, and most important, when I come to perform them for real, they dont feel quite so difficult and the actions feel familiar.

    I would be interested in others thoughts on the subject.

  • #2
    Hi Heijo,

    While I agree that the kind of visualization techniques you described can be helpful in preparing for waza, you'll probably agree that the best way to learn is to actually practice them, over and over again.

    The image our minds have of our bodies is usually quite skewed, for various reasons, but mainly because we can't escape our skins to see what they look like and do from the outside. The more we practice, the more the body remembers and teaches the brain, slowly correcting the picture, so that we don't need to remember every little detail of nuki-tsuke, our body does it for us. To improve our Kendo or Iaido, besides retraining our body-awareness we need to hone our senses and improve our perceptions of motion, distance and time --in sort, our sense of maai. While I don't doubt that visualization can be helpful (I've tried it too), I'm convinced that direct experience, rather than imagary, is the most effective and efficient teacher.

    Besides in the obvious arena of ji-geiko, direct experience is also to be had in everyday surroundings, in banal activities, such as walking the dog or sitting in traffic, simply by keeping your mind focussed, being aware of the here and now, of the distances/spaces between objects, of time and motion, rather than spending too much time thinking about them or "visualizing" something else.

    I don't mean to sound scornful of a technique which you've been using for a while and find helpful. I just think the old-school "practice, practice, practice" and "no-mind" methods work better, by being literally more "down-to-earth".

    Having said that, I'll admit to having a favorite visualization technique, which is practicing sets of men- and do-uchi in front of a mirror.


    not-I

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    • #3
      Hello Not.I

      Pleased you took time to read the piece, and no I don't feel your being sconful at all.

      Actually I think your doing more "thinking" about things already than many others may do, and this can only improve your training, your just using a technique that your more comfortable with.

      What I find happens when I visualise a wasa for example is, when I repeat it in practice because my mind has reviewed it many times before, it becomes more automatic, friendly, familiar, and I dont have to think as hard about what I'm doing. I just let my mind go onto auto pilot, and that's comfortable for me!

      Clearly your correct when you say constant practice is the only way to "really" improve, but not everyone has endless time, and this was the real heart to the Thread.

      Nice to hear from you.

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      • #4
        My 2 Cents

        I use visualization techniques in a somewhat unusual manner. When I go to sleep, I replay in my mind what took place in class and visualize the techiniques I practiced and replay moments in bouting. Eventually, somewhere in the process I fall asleep, but usually not before I've reinforced the high points of the session. Second, at times when the stress level seems overwhelming at work, I sit at my desk close my eyes and visualize practicing. It takes me away from the immediate stressors by focusing on something that is pleasureable, while at the same time reinforcing what I have learned. Hey, it works for me.

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        • #5
          sports physiologists have done studies showing that visualization techniques actually stimulate the same neural pathways as the real activity that one is visualizing. in other words, athletes that used visualization were able to improve their motor skills as though they had actually been practicing for real. (though i can't recall the magnitude of the effect, i.e. how many hours of visualization equals one hour of actual practice. i'm sure it depends on the type of activity.)

          the point is, of course you'd be better off practicing for real, but if you have some down time, say, when you're commuting on a train, you can actually improve your performance by using visualization techniques.

          the mind is a wonderful thing, n'est ce pas?

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          • #6
            Well, that was interesting. I don't really use visualization in the way you describe it. Actual physical practice is needed. I use visualization to premeditate my plans of attack, i.e. putting into use what I've practiced. I visualize the way I am going to implement a particular attack against a person, plan Bs, and counter-attacks. Visualizing is useful for some things, but it's not a substitute for practice. Hand-eye coordination can only be trained by doing.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Halcyon
              sports physiologists have done studies showing that visualization techniques actually stimulate the same neural pathways as the real activity that one is visualizing. in other words, athletes that used visualization were able to improve their motor skills as though they had actually been practicing for real. (though i can't recall the magnitude of the effect, i.e. how many hours of visualization equals one hour of actual practice. i'm sure it depends on the type of activity.)

              the point is, of course you'd be better off practicing for real, but if you have some down time, say, when you're commuting on a train, you can actually improve your performance by using visualization techniques.

              the mind is a wonderful thing, n'est ce pas?
              I echo all of this

              and if anyone does have some down time - this is one of the techniques used by sports hypnotherapists:

              1. Mentally recall / relive the experience of watching someone doing what you want to do. Presumably your sensei. Run it through putting more and more detail in each time - like you are using the jog control on a vcr. Use more of your senses, so See it, Hear it and feel what you felt like watching it.

              2. Re run the whole thing except see yourself doing it - as if you were a bystander.

              3. Now effectively step into yourself - re-run the whole thing but see it from the new perspective and feel the sensations of doing it. You'd be amazed by how accurately your unconcious can provide you with information that is incredibly accurate.

              Obviously the mind is key in Kendo; working the body without the mind is useless - but there is merit in working the mind alone as well as working the body and mind together.

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