I have been doing taekwondo for about two years now and have progressed fairly steadily. I go to class 2-3 times a week and have worked my way up to my Blue belt (about half way to black). One of the big challenges during training is remembering everything you have done before.
Each belt level has a variety of different things we need to learn. The two most important are the poomsae, a defined pattern of different moves, and the kicks. We also have to learn a new foot and weapon patterns every two belts. Each week we focus on the different elements, concentrating on what is needed for the next test. There is so much to learn and practice, we rarely get the opportunity for review on previous belts.
Early on in my training, I was warned to keep practicing everything, all the time. I took this to heart and try to go through the forms during warm-up. By doing this, I have been able to develop the muscle memory so I don’t have to think about what I am doing, I just do it.
Then the other week, my Master decided to quiz us on some of the old patterns. I was confident I could remember everything, and as we went through each one, I didn’t have any issues. Then my Master asked me to go through a foot pattern, on his count…and I failed, again and again.
Lesson: You need to know the small parts to know the whole.
This type of failure is deviously tricky to notice as it is cloaked in what appears to be success. We become used to the patterns and workflows we use, so much so, that we don’t even think about what we are doing. In order for us to become more successful, we need to break things down into smaller components. Now when I train, I not only go through the motions, but I name them as I go. Additionally, I will practice each element in isolation so I can improve it, which in turn makes all the other patterns better as well.