Seeing vs knowing was a concept that was hard for me to accept. How can I know where something is if I can’t see it? What is the purpose of not looking? You’ve got to look before you leap, right? Well, not really.
Back in the day when I was studying Karate, I practiced my forms religiously. Always in the dojo. Always facing the front of the class. My forms were practically flawless. I worked really hard to perfect my technique. Because I worked so hard and my technique was so good, I was recruited to be on the demonstration team. Yeah, for me… Not! During the first demonstration, I couldn’t remember my form. I had no reference points. The school flag was not there. The heavy bag was not there. There was no door, and no window. I didn’t have any of my visual reference points to remind me of where my body was supposed to be.
No, I wasn’t booted off the team. My instructor knew what had happened. He also knew how to fix it. I spent the next few months doing my forms blind folded. I would start each form with my feet on a piece of tape on the floor. If I had done the form correctly, I would finnish with my feet on that very same piece of tape. I learned to KNOW where all my body parts were in relation to one another. This is called proprioception. (read here too) Before, I had been calculating my location from the visual cues in the room. Now, when I do a form, I always do it better blind folded. Why? Because I depend on knowing where I am rather than seeing where I am.
Because of the close quater nature of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, we don’t have the luxury of being able to see. We have to depend on knowing the location of our body parts. So, I think it’s important for a BJJ practitioner to develop a strong sense of proprioception.
See also: Seeing vs Knowing, Part II