Remember your Katas with Feynman Technique

Remember your Katas with Feynman Technique

“The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.” ~ Mortimer Adler

Richard P. Feynman was a Nobel Prize winning Physicist but more effectively, he was remembered as a teacher who could "teach" his students to think and to apply their learning. In one of his books he mentions that knowing the name of something is not the same as knowing something.

You may know the name of a fellow competitor and his/her belt grade, even their age and weight. But all of that knowledge tells you nothing about their Kata or Kumite skills. When you see the person in competition or in a dojo, you can actually learn about that person's martial arts skills.

Thus, Feynman has added to the old saying of Albert Einstein, “Information is not Knowledge.” – by suggesting that even knowledge may not be enough for being a professional in a particular subject.

The four simple steps to the Feynman Technique is:

  1. Choose a concept
  2. Teach it to a small child
  3. Identify gaps and re-read your dojo notes or refer to your trainer
  4. Review and simplify

Suppose you had to teach a Kata to a five-year-old child who has never known anything about any martial arts. How would you go about it? Use a pen and paper and write down a process to teach, not a smart friend, but a completely simplistic child the concept, movement and applications of a Kata.

If you can do this, you can remember it forever and also teach it to just about anyone.

Identify any memorization problems you face by reviewing what you had noted. Then again rewrite the training of that Kata, maybe using stick-figure drawings to aid as visual cues.

Once you can look at the page and recall all the movements – do it yourself and see if you get forgetful or mistaken in any step. There is no perfect write-up. What you have written may not be of any help to another student in learning this Kata.

The purpose of writing and practising it is not for teaching it to some child. No! The purpose is to breakup all the forms and movements in the Kata into detailed, elaborate steps—so that you remember it well enough to perform without this reference material.

Read out aloud what you have written. For any doubt or confusion, simplify and rewrite it until you are able to do that Kata as easily as walking or breathing—in a natural and confident way.

This will help you understand and memorize every tiny detail and makes learning intuitive and effortless. Its no longer a challenge if you can break it down and simplify into parts of a whole.

Have you been absolutely lost regarding your training when you stopped attending your dojo for a few years. Taking notes after each class at the dojo is also a surefire way to get instant recall of your martial arts training.

Know it, write it, explain it (to an imaginary child), revise text to simplify it, practice and perform. Then you will also build a reflex for methodical application.

* * *

How do you remember what you have learned at your Dojo? Email and share your methods.