Seeing vs Knowing, Part I

     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

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8 Responses to Seeing vs Knowing, Part I

  1. Great post. I noticed how much of a difference it makes to have a warm-up roll in the arena before a comp, simply because it gets your brain accustomed to the new points of reference!

    • Liam, you’re absolutely right. It does help to “get your brain accustomed to the new reference points.” I also love you BJJ philosophy. I swiped this quote form your blog, “My goal, for the lack of a better word, is to do BJJ. Every time I step onto the mat, boom, goal achieved.” I love it. Well said. Thank you.

  2. Allie says:

    That’s a cool story. Sounds intimidating! 😉 Steph and I used to practice grappling with our eyes closed. It was hilarious. It didn’t make as much harder as I thought, but it was helpful because it forced us to remain in close contact with each other a feel for things, which meant we were leaving less space. The other funny thing was that we ended up traveling all over the mat and had no idea where we were going until we opened our eyes. lol

    • Hey Allie, Steph sounds like a great training partner. I wish I could have been there for that roll. Speaking of rolls, keep us updated on the “Pancake Town” guy.

  3. Ha…. by the time I started kung fu, I knew (from tai chi) about that phenomenon. So I was always careful to practice forms facing a different direction for each rep. Whichever direction I started facing, I used the opening salute to fixate in my mind, “this is (hypothetical) north.” Every time I make a turn, I sorta mentally “ping” where north is… then I always know where I am.

    • Oh Savage One, pinging north is a good idea. I have no internal compass. I get lost in my own bedroom. LOL. I wanted to tell you that I like the quotes that you’ve been posting from Daniele Bolelli’s, On The Warrior’s Path. I’m going to have to check out some of her work. Very inspirational and thought provoking. Thank you.

      • Yes, it’s a great book. I think the author is male, though. He is quite a word poet…. you kinda have to read everything (at least) twice, once to get the concept and then again just to appreciate the artistry of the word flow.

  4. Pingback: Seeing vs Knowing, Part II | Combat Sports Review Blog

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