Decision making in any sport is what separates the good from the best. All the movement skills and drills are essentially ineffective without decisions. This is especially the case in combat sports where the decisions you make are crucial to the outcome.
- Decisions to attack or be patient
- To press or to pull
- To go high or low
These as many more micro level decisions culminate in the performance essentially.
Decisions are made based on perception i.e what information is available in terms of space, distance, reads etc. This is what is known as perception – action coupling. Perception action coupling is carrying out actions based on the decision you make due to the perception of information you acquire.
These decisions are made up of both conscious and subconscious decisions. The conscious decisions may be the ones such as “I think I’m going to try and attack to the head”. The subconscious decisions are more innate due to the training and different perceptions which may look similar from previous experiences. This can be explained as an automatic reaction to an “action” based on taking in subconscious perceptual information or cues. This is something known as “chunking”, a term derived from human psychology, theorizing that the brain chunks or combines various informative cues such as bio-mechanics, distance, motor patterns, distance to essentially calculate a prediction which informs the brain of a high probability based on combined previous experiences.
Why is this important for Taekwon-Do or any other sport for that matter? Well, have you ever just “felt” a shot was coming and you naturally just blocked it or avoided it without much thinking, this is due to chunking of the multiple times you have recognized a similar pattern in the past. So this type of decision making is more subconscious and doesn’t need any particular choices to be made as such. However, this type of decision making is just as trained as the conscious decision you can almost hear in your head.
This post will be followed up by Part 2 where we will explain how to incorporate this valuable skill into training and performance.