The Bulletproof Musician is an excellent website and blog that deals primarily with issues of performance anxiety, though its scope extends beyond this. In a recent blog entry, Dr.Noah Kageyama discussed how to use what he calls “deliberate memorization”. We might liken this to some Eastern practices’ exhortation to be “mindful”, though Kageyama’s explanation gives us a little more direction in how to implement such awareness for the sake of memorization-learning. Simply put: deliberate memorization means complex association memorization.

In the context of music, this means developing a bunch of focal details to work on throughout the progression of a musical piece. By tying the progression of a musical piece to focal details, one is better able to learn and retain the memory of the musical piece itself. We see something similar occurring in memory palace training, where one might possibly add a story to the information one is attempting to memorize. And we see a sort of explorative element added to “deliberate memorization” in somatic disciplines such as the Feldenkrais method.

For the martial artist, deliberate memorization can be applied by focusing on technical details in order to remember a sequence, such as a kata, form, taulo, etc. If you explore/examine your training, you may reflect that your initial movement could be altered to improve accuracy, while your second move requires a little more exhalation than what you are doing, and so on and so forth, until you have a form that is full of critical commentary. With this, you will not only improve on the form you are working on, but you will retain the memory of the form to a greater degree than if you did not. The effect will be very different from just trying to make it through the form.