One of the most challenging things I’ve faced in the last year is a slow degradation in physical capacity due to chemotherapy and resulting side effects. It has taken me away from the gym, the grappling mats, and recently, it has slowed my ability to hit the range and compete. For the record, I’m on the mend and the doctors expect the symptoms to resolve over the next year or so. Since I couldn’t make it to the Rangemaster Conference this year, I decided to be useful and write this post. I digress…
I, not being content to roll over and quit, have been looking for ways to be a better ‘me’ today than I was yesterday. I have narrowed down the best bang for the buck to be mental training. When I go to the range, I do decisional and thinking shooting exercises like I mentioned in this article and this one. The requirements for success in these drills (and extrapolating to actual defensive situations) boils down to rapid processing of new information as it becomes available, rapid visual processing and decision making, and the ability to memorize lists of information or details that might help later when recalling the situation to teammates or authorities. It’s not news that research shows that the brain will atrophy with age, and that it can be ‘strengthened’ with use.
On a lark, I downloaded Einstein Brain Trainer HD and started messing around with it. For me, it has been well worth $3. There’s a free version that will give you an idea of what it’s about.
What I like about it:
- Some of the games are directly applicable to awareness and memorizing details
This game will let you look at 2, 3 or 4 people with names, then it will ask which person had which face, article of clothing, or item in their hand. For whatever reason, this is hard game for me, especially when it’s more than two people. I see direct benefit to self defense because sometimes the best course of action is to be a good witness. If you can recall clothing details, facial features, or license plates, it is helpful to police for catching the bad guys. There are also games about remembering directions, sequence of events, and numbers. I’m sure you can think of plenty of ways this could be useful.
- There are logic games that force you to work on patterns and processing several layers of instructions within a given time limit.
This game is almost exactly like working a decision shooting drill. It adds movement of the shapes as well as colors and shapes. It ties my mind in a knot pretty quickly. There’s another 5 logic games in addition to this.
- It works visual speed and processing, as well as perspective and spacial relations.
This game asks you to choose from which location the top image is being viewed from. This is useful in visualizing cover, room layout, depth, hiding spots, as well as shooting problems. I find that I’m quite good at the visual games. I think I’m wired to do well at these, it might be part of why I chose engineering as a career.
- It rates you and gets progressively harder. You can see what areas you excel at, and then work on the weak areas. Well-rounded is the goal.
- It gives you a reminder to do a daily workout. It takes no more than 5 minutes to run through the games. As Cecil pointed out in his article one small thing a day, and the premise behind Claude’s 1,000 days of dryfire, daily disciplined practice is the true way to mastery. Why should mental training be different? Do your daily workout on the John in the morning. Done and done. You’re re-wiring your brain. You’re becoming a better protector for your family. You’re going to be able to make change at the grocery store faster. There’s no downside.
Get your mental plasticity on! Make yourself a little better today than you were yesterday, even if your body is broken. Do Work.
Protect the Brood,
PS: Here’s some other mental trainers I found on Amazon that might also be useful. I have no experience with them. You might also find most of them on Google Play or ITunes.
Brain Trainer Special Pro
Mind Games Pro
Fit Brains Trainer