1. Adopt an improving mindset – not content with remaining at an acceptable level
  2. Train with high-level practitioners you trust
  3. Spend time each day doing undistracted practice

Much of this article is inspired by the 2016 book Peak by Anders Ericsson, a researcher into peak performance.

1 – Adopt an improving mindset

Sifu James teaching - Wing Chun London

Research has suggested that experience alone does not guarantee an improvement in performance.

When doctors who had practiced for 20 years were compared with doctors who had only trained for 5 years, no improvement in performance was seen. In fact in some cases the more experienced doctors actually got worse.

Instead what mattered was that the practitioner adopted a mindset that wanted to keep on improving.

2 – Train with high-level practitioners you trust

Instructor and Student - Wing Chun London

By training regularly with high level practitioners you trust you will get:

  1. an outside feedback of your performance
  2. an opportunity to engage in creative play
  3. a place where you are pushed slightly out of your comfort zone

3 – Spend time each day doing undistracted practice

Instructor Tino - Wing Chun London

The final concept needed for improvement is undistracted time alone engaged in what Anders Ericsson calls ‘deliberate practice’.

In addition to applying the 3 concepts above when training with high-level practitioners, deliberate practice also gives you time alone to build on the mental representations you have acquired since the start of your martial arts training.

Examples of mental representations are:

  • Seeing related moves in groups rather than each one in isolation – similar to a chess grandmaster
  • Training the form/pads/dummy etc so you can accurately visualise your execution of the moves
  • Imagining your opponent attacking as you perform the form – thereby strengthening your understanding of each application