If you are anything like me, you probably suffer from at least an occasional case of CRS; “Can’t Remember S – – t.” And, often as not, when you realize you don’t remember something, you either get help remembering or move on to other things. Take movie actors for example. My wife and I will start trying to remember an actor’s name and, the next thing you know, we are on the internet, looking it up. But, sometimes I make the effort to remember by going through the alphabet, looking for a letter or phonetic sound that triggers my memory. Nine times out of ten this works but it takes patience and time. Can you see where I am going with this?

On a recent workout, I picked up a weapon and started in on a kata that I had not spent time on in a few, let’s just call it, “weeks.” And, to my horror, I couldn’t remember the end. Try as I might, I kept getting stuck. This is not a first for me. I have been the recipient of a lot of very generous teaching by numerous individuals. Sometimes I just have not put in the time, afterwards, to commit the ideas to memory. And, you have to commit things to memory first, before you can really start to work on them properly. (see Beyond Memorization).

When you train alone, above all else you have to stay motivated, or you will stop practicing. Most of us do this by practicing the things we like the best and other drills, that aren’t favorites, get worked on less often. But, too much of the same thing gets boring, and those very drills might provide you with your next dose of motivation; if you remember them.

And here’s the real lesson: the act of trying to remember an old drill can be, itself, very motivating. In this recent case of the weapons kata, I decided to continue working on what I knew, over and over again. Each time I would run into the trouble spot I would explore something different that might be right. Eventually, I found the missing movement, buried deep in my cerebral cortex. Now, although it is shaky, the moves are reasonably right. Not only that, but I can’t wait to pick up the weapon and work the kata, every time I train.

So, the challenge today is to pick a kata or drill that you have been shown but can’t quite remember and work on it until you do. The information is up there in your head. It may already even be a part of your physical memory. And don’t worry about making mistakes. The process of trying to remember is as valuable as anything you do. If your sensei corrects you down the road, your dedicated attempts to remember will make it much easier to adopt the suggested changes.