Mae Geri. Source:

This post was originally going to be dedicated to Karate, but I stumbled upon a reflective article: “Mind Control” by Pete Herzog and decided to try to build on top of it.

Pete, makes reference that given the speed of our sensors and our brain we basically live in the past: 80 ms in the past to be precise. So since we live in the past, our mind has been made up before we actually know or realize it; this enables us to perform complex tasks in “mental autodrive” or mental cruise control and how much energy is necessary to change mental patterns.

Karate is a good example of how through repetition, we create complex rules and responses of body and mind through repetition and concentration. It is possible to calculate the distance to something, even in movement, to hit it with the intended force: so when practicing you control strength, but in a sticky situation you can actual hit with all your might to defend yourself.

I had the pleasure of attending a karate-do class by Akita Sensei on Friday. And he focused on perfectioning small details in techniques, for example a Mae-geri or front kick. The idea was to concentrate on a couple of details, like:
a) The standing leg: ensuring it was correctly flexed, not overturned, but rather looking perfectly forward
b) The hip: should stay in a straight line, instead of automatically going forward to cover more space
c) The knee: should go up to the right place, at the right time
d) After the kick: retract the knee to the original position

If we can willingly create and change these patterns or rule-sets, why to we still react in primitive ways to known prompts? How many rules have been created for us by society and the modern way of life? How may rules do we have in place without even knowing it?

Considering the effort needed to change these rules, even if we use some cool mind tricks likes those described here; do we really want to do it? Can we make changes that will kick in in auto-drive or under stress? How do we discover if there are other rules with a higher priority than those we are trying to build in?

Sadly I don’t have those answers for you, but I think that the 15-20 black belts that were in that class with me will also be trying implicitly to find the answers to those questions