Being able to retrieve information from the mind quickly during a game is of utmost importance for a grappler or combat athlete. This is the information that you developed during training and preparation, such as

  • your game plan
  • strategies and tactics
  • moves and grappling or combat athletics techniques that you want to use
  • visual imagery of the moves

Memory retrieval techniques: There are innumerable memory retrieval techniques available that are used in diverse fields like business, financial planning, military planning, education, and so on. The techniques given below have been chosen because of their relevance for grappling and combat athletics and have been adapted to suit grapplers and combat athletes. The two methods can be used in tandem for greater effectiveness, since they complement each other:

1) Image Cue Technique

Ideally a grappler or combat athlete should practice techniques innumerable times during practice and further rehearse them through visualization so that he/she develops an almost automatic retrieval process in his/her mind. But many athletes find it difficult to recall their moves. Memory retrieval of moves and techniques can be quite a quick process if you use certain cues. For instance, let’s say if you are about to perform a certain takedown and you planned and practiced to execute it in a particular way during training. At the spur of the moment, you have to be able to retrieve this information. The method that you can use to retrieve the information is to give yourself a cue- at that point. This is called a ‘context cue’ since it is relevant in that particular instance. The minute you decide to use the move, the cue should be activated in your mind, and this will retrieve your technique for you. You can activate the cue using images stored in your mind during visualization.

Activating the cue using images

Quite simply you have to make an association between your moves and certain mental images of those moves. These image cues can be created during your visualization process in the days preceding the game. You will basically link certain situations in the game to mental images of relevant moves that you want to use. Retrieving image cues is ideal for a sport like grappling or combat athletics where grapplers and combat athletes do much of their strategizing through imagery.

For instance, the image of the first step in a certain takedown move can serve as an image cue to retrieve the technique for you. You can also build fluidity into your image cues to take you from one step to the next in sequence as you action your move. To create these fluid image cues, the process of visualization has to be extremely vivid so that the images stored in your mind are as comprehensible as possible.

2) Structured Memory Technique

The structured memory technique allows you to store your game plan in a structured manner, and the retrieval pattern will be based on that structure. The structure is based on different stages in a grappling or combat athletics encounter and can be decided by you based on the game requirements.

An example of a broad list of areas into which your game plan can “be classified to make retrieval from memory structured is presented next.

Stages in game

Memory retrieval

  • Just prior to start of match
  • At the start of the match
  • Mind-game
  • Opponent going on the offensive
  • Defense
  • Submission moves
  • Recall key points in your strategy
  • Start moves: What moves will you begin with?
  • What do you want to do as the game progresses?
  • It’s time for your most powerful m6ves
  • What do you have in your arsenal to counter your opponent?
  • Recall the alternatives stored in your memory and quickly choose the most suitable one

The Structured Memory Technique stores and retrieves information relevant to different stages of the game, while the Image Cue Technique helps retrieve moves and styles precisely the way you want to execute them. The two techniques can be combined to make the process of memory retrieval complete.

Method to improve memory function and retrieval for grapplers or combat athletes:

The capacity to link what we view with images stored in the brain gives us the ability to recall information in our memory. The human brain has 10-12 billion cells known as neurons. These neurons carry out the brain functions through electrical impulses that move from one neuron to the next. It is through this process of transmission that learning and memory occurs.

The brain actually has two hemispheres, the right brain and the left-brain. According to researchers, each hemisphere in the brain has different functions. The right brain controls mental imagery, creativity, perception and appreciation of art. The left brain is specialized in logic, mathematical calculations, writing and languages.

There are breathing techniques in yoga therapy that can assist the right brain function and help a grappler or combat athlete recall stored mental images easily. Slow inhalation and even slower exhalation is taught in this technique and the process has to be followed over several cycles. It can be learned quite easily at a yoga center or through a yoga practitioner.

Lloyd Irvin is a martial arts coach. He holds the rank of 7th degree black belt in Thai Jitsu, 2nd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, 1st degree black belt in judo. In 2002 he was named The United States Judo Federation International Coach of the year. Lloyd’s coaching experience includes having taught Secret Service, FBI & SWAT. Read more on:

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