Tao Mae Double stick – Angles 1 & 2 with Female triangle

Training the Nervous system

Training the nervous system and learning new skills requires that we have a state of readiness in the brain in order to be able to create new neural connections that will be able to send coordinated impulses to the body for the skillful execution of our techniques.

Creating a state of calmness in the nervous system (and in our mind) is essential to be able to access parts of the brain involved in learning and this requires that we deactivate a part of the nervous system known as the Sympathetic division, and stimulate its counterpart, the Parasympathetic division that is involved in relaxation, and stimulates the pre-frontal cortex and higher cognitive (brain) function.

The fight or flight response

When situations seem threatening to us, our bodies react quickly to supply protection by preparing to take action. This physiological reaction is known as the “fight or flight” response during which:

  • Adrenaline and Cortisol are released when our brains perceive we are under threat or in danger..
  • The SYMPATHETIC nervous system is activated while the PARA-SYMPATHETIC nervous system is inhibited.
  • Heart rate increases to send oxygen to muscles
  • Blood pressure rises
  • Breathing rate increases
  • Digestion is inhibited
  • Muscles become tense, ready for action

Stress, or the “Flight-or-Fight Response” causes the Sympathetic nervous system to be activated and this results in numerous bodily functions being affected as well as what brain researchers call “cortical inhibition.”

‘Cortical inhibition’ means that stress inhibits part of our thinking brain and we can’t learn or function at our best.

Stress shifts the balance between multiple systems underlying learning and memory.

  • Stress affects not only how much is learned (memory quantity) but also what is encoded and how memories are built (memory quality).
  • Stress reduces the integration of new information into existing memories
  • Stress impairs memory retrieval.

As you now start to integrate more footwork into your delivery of the first two stick angles ensure that you breathe smoothly, take your time, and approach your practice from a state of ‘mental calmness’