Updated: Feb 28, 2021
How to learn and remember physical activities like sports and dance.
I’m currently taking the Recall Masterclass from Kwik Learning right now, and as part of the homework, I am to teach what I learned each class to other people. The class is taught by Jim Kwik, a renowned brain coach. Since I’m a blogger, I’d like to share my notes with all of you. I hope you can use the knowledge and practice the methods to improve your memory as well.
Class 10: Body Memory
Image Source: Unsplash
This session is all about learning and remembering physical movements, such as sports, martial arts, and dance. Jim asks us to think of some physical activity that we want to learn. If we can’t think of one, he recommends juggling because it’s a good metaphor for life.
This lesson has three key ideas:
5 Levels of Change
10 C’s for Motor Memory
Key Idea 1: FAST
FAST stands for forget, active, state, teach. We need to apply FAST to learn things more effectively.
F = Forget. For get anything you already know. Start with an empty cup so that you can fill it. Also forget about your limiting beliefs. For example, if you want to learn dance, but you tell yourself, “I’m just not a dancer”, then you won’t learn it well. Jim says, “If you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them.”
A = Active. Active means participating and doing. It could mean actively taking notes or asking questions. It means actually practicing.
S = State. Your state is your mood. It’s best to get into the state of an excited child because children are the fastest learners. Bring playfulness and fun back into learning. Think, “What would the 10-year-old version of me think about this? How would they approach this?” Sit, stand, and breathe the way you would if were totally interested.
T = Teach. The best students are also the best teachers. Think about someone you really care about, and think about how you will teach them this knowledge afterwards. Having the intention to teach will change the your focus and the way you take notes. It will help you be more active. When you teach something, you get to learn it twice.
Key Idea 2: Five Levels of Change
All learning is change. You are learning something new, so there is change happening. Jim shares this model from neuro-linguistic programming:
When we learn something, we want to change at all five levels. The higher the level, the deeper the change. When we learn some new skill or physical activity, we want to use all 5 levels to help us change and learn.
Level 1: Environment = Where and When
What’s the optimal learning environment for that sport or activity? For example, if you want to learn dance, do you have access to a dance studio? Mirror? Video cameras? A dance coach and classmates? All these external factors create a good learning environment.
Level 2: Behavior = What
What actions do you need to do? Can you make these actions a habit?
Level 3: Capabilities = How
How do you do the actions most effectively? What skills do you need to build or can you build to support you learning this physical activity?
Level 4: Beliefs and Values = Why
Why are you learning this new activity? What’s important to you about learning this? What beliefs would be useful for me to have to learn this activity better?
Level 5: Identity = Who
I am _______. Whatever you fill in the blank with, that controls your destiny. Something who identifies as a fast learner will learn faster than someone who identifies as dumb. Your identity is about how you think of yourself, the vision you have for yourself, and what you stand for.
You can also ask other people who know you very well to describe you in 5 words. That’s other people’s perception of who you are. Be conscious of this. See if it aligns with what you want to be your identity.
Key Idea 3: The Ten C’s for Motor Memory
The 10 C’s are
Consequences (getting feedback)
This step means picking the competency (skill) that you want to learn.
This step is about breaking down the skill into small pieces. For example, a dance choreography might have 30 different steps. If you look at all 30 at once, it feels overwhelming. Chunking means breaking it down to small pieces that you can label and organize. You might end up for 10 chunks of 3 steps. Learning chunk by chunk is much more manageable than learning a 30 step dance all at once.
This step is all about the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of your results come from 20% of efforts. After you chunk the steps, find out the 20% of steps that have the biggest impact or that are most important. Focus on learning those and mastering those first.
This step is about putting the chunks into a sequence. It’s like a recipe: you have to follow the recipe in proper order. When you practice the movements, go through them step by step and slowly, because slow is smooth and smooth is fast. Pay attention to the timing of the actions as well.
Don’t think about breaking the steps and rules when you’re just learning. Only experts are allowed to do that. As Picasso said, “Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.”
This step is about getting feedback. It’s about being aware of the consequences of your actions so that you can improve. For this step, you want to have a mirror, or record yourself practicing, or have a coach to watch you and give you feedback.
In this context, character is not about integrity or honesty, it’s about acting. Before actors get on stage, they get into character. If you want to learn a basketball for example, you can think of Michael Jordan. Close your eyes and imagine you’re merging with Michael Jordan. Play the role of Michael Jordan. That will help you learn basketball much faster.
Consistency is all about consistent effort. Use every opportunity you have to train and practice. For example, when Jim was learning yoga, he would practice the moves when waiting for the bus or when brushing his teeth. He used every opportunity he could to practice. This spaced repetition also helps him remember the movements better.
Here, commit means committing to excellence. Jim says that we rise to the level of our beliefs and fall to the level of our training. Committing means putting this new activity or skill as a priority. Actually put it on your calendar. It should get first dibs on your calendar. Commit to it long-term, or at least long enough to actually get results.
The fastest way to accelerate learning is to have a coach. The coach is an expert in the skill, and the coach keeps you accountable to your daily practice. The coach can challenge you, give you feedback, and put you into character.
If you don’t have access to a live coach, then watch YouTube videos and practice in front of a mirror or record yourself practicing. Be your own coach.
Celebration gives you the positive reinforcement you need to keep going. People are too quick to beat themselves up and too slow to celebrate successes. Celebrate the little successes like how you celebrate when a child is learning to walk.
Have some fun time at the end. For example, when Jim was taking martial arts classes, they would train hard for 90 minutes, then they’d have 10 minutes of free time at the end. Students can use this time however they want. It’s time to relax and celebrate the progress you’ve made.
Apply these lessons to learning a physical activity. Teach these lessons to someone else.