“You got Skills!” Tom Cruise’s character tells Cameron Diaz’s in the fun romantic action thriller “Knight and Day“. I think he uses the phrase more than once. Although the premise is somewhat formulaic and it didn’t appear to really gross at the box office, I rather liked it. “You got Skills!”. I like it that Cameron Diaz’s character is pretty independent, she fixes classic cars following in her deceased father’s footsteps, partly out of love of it herself, but also to honor his memory. And daddy obviously got his little girl some boxing or martial arts training, too!
Everyone can get “Skills!”. And starting at any age is possible. You simply have to remember that you will go through the same muscle development stages as everyone else. So please be patient with yourself and the process. There are 3 major stages; the last one is divided into 2 more.
- Gross Motor Skills: utilizing the large muscles. Swinging an arm or leg is a gross motor skill. Kicking your legs in the pool is a perfect example. This is the first stage and easiest to learn.
- Fine Motor Skills: utilizing the small muscles. Rolling your hand into a fist, rotating your hand at the wrist, writing, flexing your toes, etc are examples of fine motor skills. Notice a child can learn to grasp objects much more easily than learn to handle utensils.
- Complex Motor Skills: utilizing gross and fine motor skills together. When a karate student throws a punch they must extend their arm and rotate their wrist and tense their fist all with a fraction of a second before impact! Beginners often throw a punch with weak wrists, no rotation and/or poor knuckle alignment. They are BEGINNERS! (Safety tip: no heavy impact training until the complex skills are more fully mastered!)
- Closed Complex Motor Skills: multiple complex motor skills that are repeated in series. The key is REPEATED. A choreographed dance, music recital, speech and Kata/Form are prime examples. Have you ever noticed that stutterers do not stutter when they sing? It is because they have practiced that complex range of notes and words again and again until it is second nature. Correct repetition is the key to mastery, and preparation for the highest level of motor skill.
- Open Complex Motor Skills: multiple complex motor skills executed randomly and in response to other actions. This is the highest skill level. The Improv actor/dancer/singer is truly skilled because he/she are creating new sequences spontaneously. The martial artist who excels at sparring must spontaneously react to his/her partner’s unrehearsed actions. The soldier who must take his trained skills and then survive with them in a battlefield is using Open Complex Motor Skills. A side note here: can you see where the confidence built in stage 4 can give you the courage needed for stage 5?
A lot of factors are involved in going through the stages as you acquire and develop your new skills: age, health, intensity, body type etc. Younger is better, athletic history is better, good health is better, frequent training is better, and proper weight is better……..but “You got Skills”! You can do this! And doing this (whatever it is) is just better!