Tickle the Brain- Are we creatures of habit?

Discussion in 'Grappling Technique' started by ShanghaiBJJ, May 7, 2008.

  1. ShanghaiBJJ

    ShanghaiBJJ Brown Belt

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    Hello there fellow grappler.

    If you don't like College-thinky-stuff, don't bother reading on, as this article is not about cups, girls, least favourite training partners or prickly heat rashes.



    Just read this article on my favourite online newspaper and found that it relates quite well to the BJJ learning process. In essence it encourages you to try out new things and resists the fear to always do things the same way, which relates back to the whole A-game-camper discussion.

    It actually makes me want to train my weak side more... :D Enjoy.

    ---

    International Herald Tribune
    Can you become a creature of new habits?
    By Janet Rae-Dupree
    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    Habits are a funny thing. We reach for them mindlessly, setting our brains on auto-pilot and relaxing into the unconscious comfort of familiar routine. "Not choice, but habit rules the unreflecting herd," William Wordsworth said in the 19th century. In the ever-changing 21st century, even the word "habit" carries a negative connotation.

    So it seems antithetical to talk about habits in the same context as creativity and innovation. But brain researchers have discovered that when we consciously develop new habits, we create parallel synaptic paths, and even entirely new brain cells, that can jump our trains of thought onto new, innovative tracks.

    Rather than dismissing ourselves as unchangeable creatures of habit, we can instead direct our own change by consciously developing new habits. In fact, the more new things we try — the more we step outside our comfort zone — the more inherently creative we become, both in the workplace and in our personal lives.

    But don't bother trying to kill off old habits; once those ruts of procedure are worn into the hippocampus, they're there to stay. Instead, the new habits we deliberately ingrain into ourselves create parallel pathways that can bypass those old roads.

    "The first thing needed for innovation is a fascination with wonder," says Dawna Markova, author of "The Open Mind" and an executive change consultant for Professional Thinking Partners. "But we are taught instead to 'decide,' just as our president calls himself 'the Decider.' " She adds, however, that "to decide is to kill off all possibilities but one. A good innovational thinker is always exploring the many other possibilities."

    All of us work through problems in ways of which we're unaware, she says. Researchers in the late 1960s discovered that humans are born with the capacity to approach challenges in four primary ways: analytically, procedurally, relationally (or collaboratively) and innovatively. At puberty, however, the brain shuts down half of that capacity, preserving only those modes of thought that have seemed most valuable during the first decade or so of life.

    The current emphasis on standardized testing highlights analysis and procedure, meaning that few of us inherently use our innovative and collaborative modes of thought. "This breaks the major rule in the American belief system — that anyone can do anything," explains M. J. Ryan, author of the 2006 book "This Year I Will..." and Markova's business partner. "That's a lie that we have perpetuated, and it fosters mediocrity. Knowing what you're good at and doing even more of it creates excellence."

    This is where developing new habits comes in. If you're an analytical or procedural thinker, you learn in different ways than someone who is inherently innovative or collaborative. Figure out what has worked for you when you've learned in the past, and you can draw your own map for developing additional skills and behaviors for the future.

    "I apprentice myself to someone when I want to learn something new or develop a new habit," Ryan says. "Other people read a book about it or take a course. If you have a pathway to learning, use it because that's going to be easier than creating an entirely new pathway in your brain."

    Ryan and Markova have found what they call three zones of existence: comfort, stretch and stress. Comfort is the realm of existing habit. Stress occurs when a challenge is so far beyond current experience as to be overwhelming. It's that stretch zone in the middle — activities that feel a bit awkward and unfamiliar — where true change occurs.

    "Getting into the stretch zone is good for you," Ryan says in "This Year I Will... ." "It helps keep your brain healthy. It turns out that unless we continue to learn new things, which challenges our brains to create new pathways, they literally begin to atrophy, which may result in dementia, Alzheimer's and other brain diseases. Continuously stretching ourselves will even help us lose weight, according to one study. Researchers who asked folks to do something different every day — listen to a new radio station, for instance — found that they lost and kept off weight. No one is sure why, but scientists speculate that getting out of routines makes us more aware in general."

    She recommends practicing a Japanese technique called kaizen, which calls for tiny, continuous improvements.

    "Whenever we initiate change, even a positive one, we activate fear in our emotional brain," Ryan notes in her book. "If the fear is big enough, the fight-or-flight response will go off and we'll run from what we're trying to do. The small steps in kaizen don't set off fight or flight, but rather keep us in the thinking brain, where we have access to our creativity and playfulness."

    Simultaneously, take a look at how colleagues approach challenges, Markova suggests. We tend to believe that those who think the way we do are smarter than those who don't. That can be fatal in business, particularly for executives who surround themselves with like-thinkers. If seniority and promotion are based on similarity to those at the top, chances are strong that the company lacks intellectual diversity.

    "Try lacing your hands together," Markova says. "You habitually do it one way. Now try doing it with the other thumb on top. Feels awkward, doesn't it? That's the valuable moment we call confusion, when we fuse the old with the new."

    AFTER the churn of confusion, she says, the brain begins organizing the new input, ultimately creating new synaptic connections if the process is repeated enough.

    But if, during creation of that new habit, the "Great Decider" steps in to protest against taking the unfamiliar path, "you get convergence and we keep doing the same thing over and over again," she says.

    "You cannot have innovation," she adds, "unless you are willing and able to move through the unknown and go from curiosity to wonder."



    Source: Can you become a creature of new habits? - International Herald Tribune
     
  2. wildcard_seven

    wildcard_seven Purple Belt

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    Interesting. I'll still only train one side. There are only so many hours in the day, and better two have a solid technique on one side than a mediocre technique on two.

    As for other things, though...maybe I'll tackle my fear of open guard. Must have....more contact....not.....secure.
     
  3. ozyabbas

    ozyabbas Purple Belt

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    I was thinking about our habits and how it relates to jiu jitsu both positively and negatively. It seems we can have some habits that are drilled into us which are good to have and your body naturally reacts in a way to use these habits ie shrimping at the right time, not exposing neck/arms etc.

    There are areas where some of these habits work against you, I believe there have been many times for most of us where we believe there is no way out of a certain technique or can't figure out how to do a certain move. Then when we ask our instructor, they can tell you something that is rather simple and you find it amazing that you didn't think of it before.

    I sometimes find it interesting watching new guys roll, because they are usually a blank slate when it comes to bjj. So they may do somethings that you don't expect and it occasionally adds to your game.

    I remember hearing a story of how Leo Viera came up with the brabo choke, that it was through watching his white belts spar. He saw some white belt do it, tried it himself and expanded on it.

    I have always wondered how many of these new techniques come about, were they through problem solving or where someone did a technique randomly in sparring. Saw that it worked and tried to expland on it.
     
  4. StudentLoan

    StudentLoan Banned Banned

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    Great read, thanks for sharing. It is hard sometimes to think outside the box when you've been doing something the same way for so long. I think ego has a part to play too if that outside the box thinking is coming from someone else.
     
  5. ILGrappler

    ILGrappler Purple Belt

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    Are you going to stop training sometime soon? If you were really dedicated to your game and wanted to train for the long haul, I would imagine that you'd want to rethink that.
     
  6. Calc

    Calc White Belt

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    Thanks for the read. I've always beleived in "babysteps" when attempting to break habits. Somewhat like kaizen..

    As for jiu jitsu, I always pratice my bad side as much or more.
     
  7. STFUjiujitsu

    STFUjiujitsu Blue Belt

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    The idea is that if you train both sides in the beginning that both will habitually feel normal. Where as now breaking the habit is much more difficult and now has that awkward feeling....I think that's what that article was trying to say...I didn't go to college.
     
  8. Jimmy Cerra

    Jimmy Cerra Amateur Fighter

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    What's the source for those statements about how we learn and how we lose half of those modes of learning?
     
  9. wildcard_seven

    wildcard_seven Purple Belt

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    To you guys ragging on me because I said I'd only train one side....

    Please don't act like this is some new concept that is radical and unproven. My first instructor at SBG followed this philosophy, I just went to a seminar with BB Jeff Curran who says and does the same thing. It's not as if you don't do a left armbar as much as right you'll just stop and have a seizure when the left arm presents itself. You can't have an awesome armbar on one side and just be a blank on the other. Everybody has a favorite side, and as I said, there is only so many hours in the day...I, and many others tend to retain techniques better if we focus on one side. If you have the mat time or the good muscle memory to train both sides and get both up to a high standard, great for you.
     
  10. FLMikeATT

    FLMikeATT Purple Belt

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    Exactly.

    I created a thread on this only like a week or 2 ago.
     
  11. TacWar

    TacWar Green Belt

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    I've read similar things in a few psych text books and from some psych journal articles, if you really want to read about learning I'm sure I can throw together some very dry material for you to read... then again, i'm a social-psych/social philosophy kind of guy so I'm not as interested in the brain as some of my fellow social science students.
     
  12. ozyabbas

    ozyabbas Purple Belt

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    I think Saulo says something similar in his dvds about the x pass. That you learn the technique for your best side and use the invert technique for the other side. Although I think he may be only referring to guard passes.
     
  13. Jimmy Cerra

    Jimmy Cerra Amateur Fighter

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    Yes please!
     
  14. omgitsrick

    omgitsrick Green Belt

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    I think all people can think in all 4 types, some better than others but everyone has that capacity. I'm probably best at approaching things procedurally and collaboratively.
     
  15. txfighter13

    txfighter13 Purple Belt

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    Make your habits good ones.
     
  16. B3rserk3R

    B3rserk3R Brown Belt

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    Really great article, I'll have to add that book to my queue
     

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