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Perceptual flexibility



Here are some clips of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. fighting and training. Love him or hate him, the guy really is incredible.  His anticipation,  physical response time to a cue, rhythm, sense of time and distance appreciation are out of this world. Indeed, much of the training period with his father, Floyd Sr. and uncle Roger, is devoted to the enhancement of Mayweather’s perceptual skills.  http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/15-06/ff_mindgames

This is not usually the case amongst fighters.  Although a  lot of time in training is often devoted to the acquisition of sport-specific skills, strength, power, conditioning, etc., usually very little time is spent on the development of the recognition and response networks that allow you to instantly decode and adaptively respond to an opponent’s  physical cues.  You might be able to punch a hole in a heavy bag, but if you can’t read your opponent’s physical cues, how are you gonna know what shot to throw where and when?  And most importantly, how are you going to avoid being hit? Perceptual flexibility has to be broken down and addressed in training specifically, like everything else you do.  Similarly, you must train to be able to make quick accurate choices with regards to what you need to do, where, and precisely when.  You can’t just hope perceptual skills are just going to take care of themselves within the general framework of a training period; they have to be worked on.

 Trouble is, a lot of guys out there don’t even know what perceptual skills need to be addressed and why, let alone how.  Indeed, I’m sure a lot of you when assessing the clip of  Mayweather engaged in pad drills with his father and uncle might very well be critical of the clip for its lack of impact power or lack of reality-based aggression.  But you’d be missing the point.  This drill is about the development of  those neural networks of recognition, anticipation, response, rhythm,  accuracy, distance appreciation and sense of time.   You want to develope impact or effective hitting within a situational context?  That’s a different drill.

Of course everything in training has to be addressed within the context of the fight,  but its not always clear to some what relationship a particular exercise or drill  has to the  fight.  Many observers fail to see or understand  why the exercise or drill is being included within the training routine.  A classic example of this is skipping.

When I’m talking about skipping, I mean skipping in a way that challenges and enhances  your sense of rhythm and time, total body coordination and ground contact time; i.e., the way Mayweather does it.  Like pad, bag, speed ball,  ground-ceiling ball etc., skipping should not become a over-familiar part of an established routine, but rather should continuously and  specifically challenge those faculties and attributes necessary to fight with.  You are always seeking to improve upon the performance of    the ‘parts’ with the big picture in mind.  You don’t necessarily have to skip or work speedball, etc.  to develop the timing ability, but you have to do something that will.  Perceptual skills, though not  obvious, are the most important of all skills and they not only give you the advantage to predict with uncanny accuracy what will happen next in a fight, but also often in life. I’ve found that through perceptual training, you get good at reading the implications of patterns or trends.

 Occasionally in the fight game somebody comes along who is extraordinary and serves as an example of what is humanly possible through years of deliberate  practice.  Floyd Mayweather is one such person.  There are still some out there who  see the way he fights and trains as being flawed from a combative perspective.  All I can say is, I wish I was as flawed as this, but I’m still working at it!


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Upcoming Training: 10 June in London

For more info contact me stevemorris@morrisnoholdsbarred.co.uk or go to http://www.morrisnoholdsbarred.co.uk/fighting_arts_alliance.html


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