The feedback loop behind “effortless” performance

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Have you seen Max Holloway slip punches from Calvin Katter in the 5th round of their fight? It looks effortless as he enters the matrix and makes one of the best boxers in the UFC look silly without even thinking about it.

Or maybe you’ve seen your boss, or another seasoned veteran be able to look at a problem and be able to make the right decision seemingly without thinking about it.

Lately my jiu-jitsu instructor has been focusing on guard retention (not allowing your opponent past your legs) along with a more offensive move called a berimbolo. When you see my professor fight in real time it looks like he isn’t thinking: just like a professional slipping a punch or your seasoned boss making a quick decision in the workplace. What’s different from the real-time and when my professor is teaching, however, is that it goes from an effortless movement to a series of if-then decisions: Your opponent does x you respond with y.

John Boyd’s OODA Loop (observe-orient-decide-act) became the hallmark for American fighter pilot training. Through training, repetition, and deliberate practice fighter pilots were able to make their OODA Loops tighter.

A good teacher can help you identify and articulate the if-then statements so the OODA loop in whatever you are working on can be simplified and then get tighter and tighter until you reach a stage where it seems effortless and you have entered the matrix.

Without a teacher you can find those if-then statements through careful observation of those who are better than you, and from there tighten your OODA loop one rep at a time.

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