The learning dynamics of how combat athletes develop their skill



Interesting research study on the learning dynamics of how combat athletes develop their skill in perception of striking efficiency and effectiveness.

The two items that stand out in this study is the criteria for movement preference and procedure for optimum development of strategic positioning.

The individual perception of effectiveness of the available strikes was the dominant criteria for technique selection within the temporal (as in time and spacial determinants) coupling and these discoveries and decisions led to a measurable improvement of skill. That means that each fighter develops their own unique preference of strikes for each range based upon their experience and understanding that they develop in practice and competition. Essentially, this outlines that each fighter is most effective by experimenting and challenging themselves to develop their own personal attributes over utilizing a generic style or system of fighting.

Skill is best developed with a progressive strategy utilizing a progression of fundamentally appropriate activities to help a person overcome their skill performance deficits and increase performance capabilities. Training can be maximized by using Gentile’s Taxonomy of Motor Skill to assist in assessing the athletes and designing an appropriate strategy to each practice. This system is progressive in nature and can be used by coaches to determine the current skill level of an athlete and then identify the next step in their training.

This progression of technical ability begins with limited variability (such as drilling technics while stationary by yourself) and progresses to implementation of open skill tasks with intertrial variability (sparring). Applying practice strategy that emphasizes learning in which trainees would themselves explore, discover and thus adapt to the information proved to be more effective in obtaining mastery than verbal or demonstration teaching methods. This validates a teaching model that relies heavy on drilling to establish foundational proficiency of technique; then once a base level of competency has been established, situational sparring is introduced to fine tune movement patterns and develop temporal understanding; finally, sparring exercises are utilized to refine overall fighting competency.

Hristovski, R., Davids, K., Araujo, D., & Button, C. (2006) How boxers decide to punch a target: Emergent behavior in nonlinear dynamical movement systems. Journal of sports science and medicine, 5, 60-73.