How To Improve Anything Using Fighting Games

Obsessed with Learning How To Improve

I’m obsessed with Learning how to improve in all areas of my life. In the past 5 years, many things have happened to help me realize my potential. I’m always striving to improve in my life, my career, my relationships, and in competitive gaming. I’ve been on a journey of self-improvement in hopes that I will help inspire and influence others to live Their lives to the fullest. In my adventures, I’ve picked up a thing or two that I hope will help others. I’m going to share a few of the many reasons why it’s important to always have at least one strategy when approaching anything in life.

More Mental Space

One of the biggest benefits of having a strategy is the amount of mental space that’s freed up. Playing Street Fighter V (SFV) has really helped me reconnect with this concept. As my life gets busier and busier I find that it’s very easy for me to lose focus without even being conscious of it. Similar to life, SFV is a very busy game and in order to be the best you have to have a laser focus. To the untrained eye, many of the nuances of the game can go unseen, there is an incredible amount of information that needs to be processed in order to play the game on a professional level.

 

Breaking It Down

According to Josh Waitzken, Auther of The Art of Learning, professionals do something called chunking.

In order to play the game efficiently, information needs to be condensed into smaller chunks and strategies need to be formulated around said information. If you hop into this game without the right information and no plan, you’re going to get overwhelmed and fast. Chunking can be done by looking at a series of related information as one big chunk. For example: If someone were to do an unsafe move in a fighting game, there is an optimal punish move that can lead right into a meaty setup which may lead to one of a few outcomes.

 

Life can be just like this, our lives are busy and sometimes we go through the motions and do not make conscious decisions. We’re button mashing (a term commonly used by the FGC [Fighting Game Community] meaning to randomly hit buttons with no plan, resulting in unexpected and often undesired results.) at life. Having a plan isn’t enough, though, it takes much more. Starting a plan is a crucial step on the journey to success.

Practice your Execution

A plan means nothing if it can’t be executed, execution is the next step.  In order for the plan to be successful, your body needs to do whatever it is that your plan requires of it.  More often than not, success isn’t going to happen on the first try. Which is why practice is so important, do what’s required over and over until it’s automatic.  Break them down into their simplest form if you are having difficulty. Start Simple and put all the pieces together as you become more familiar with the individual parts of it.

For example: When learning a combo (A series of inputs often requiring precise timing) in a fighting game I will break down the moves to the smallest possible parts. Remembering a whole series of inputs and trying to executing is often far too overwhelming for me. The more I do break down the actions, the more the overall picture starts to come together.

Balrog Trials

Training to improve with Balrog

Muscle Memory

This is where the fun starts.  Muscle memory is crucial for improving upon most physical skills. The true benefit isn’t that you can do something with ease, rather you have mental space to think on a higher level. Now you’re able to ask better quality questions, learn new skills and new techniques. For Example, The picture above show’s a combo that you can do with the character on the left side. Initially, my question was, “How do I do this combo?”, Now that I have it memorized the question is, “How can I use this in a match?” If we don’t continue to put new skills to memory and continually ask ourselves high-quality questions, we hit what is called “the wall”.

Plateauing

Hitting the “wall” is never desirable but it happens to the best of us. The first thing is to identify what the block is. I usually do this by asking myself or clients open-ended questions. Theses are questions I usually ask:

  1. What is holding you back?
  2. Why do you think this is a challenge?
  3. What steps can you take to overcome this challenge?
  4. How long do you think this will take?
  5. If you didn’t have this block what would you be able to do?
  6. Why is this important to you?

If and when I identify the problem it’s time to come up with yet another strategy to get on track to improve! One of the best ways to do this is to gather information. Below is a great video by Joshua Foer, talking about stepping out of your comfort zone and the aforementioned “Okay Plateau”.

Feedback: What worked and what didn’t?

Feedback is crucial for improving at anything.  Gathering feedback (from yourself and/or others) helps you to improve your strategy. As you gather more feedback your strategy will begin to evolve. Eventually completely new strategies will arise and/or new sub-strategies will formulate.

Track your progress

Unless you’re one of those people who can remember everything right away, it’s advisable to record your feedback. There are a vast number of ways to record information, find what works for you (and improve upon that too!). As you improve the information will grow and become invaluable. Always looking to record data will keep you out of a plateau state for a longer period of time. Focus on collecting data rather than going through the motions. This maintains an improvement mindset rather than just an “autopilot” mindset.

Improvise

As your level of skill rises you will become adept at trying new things on the fly. You already know what works so now it’s time to try new things out. Practice the new idea in isolation until that new idea is dedicated to memory. Than try it out combined with what you already know; this can be learning a new art technique, new combo, or a new way of editing a video. There’s an infinite number of possibilities to choose from, so take your pick.

Conversations are not meant to be one-sided, I want to learn from everybody else. What strategies do you use in life or in video games?

 

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