Our body is a crazy machine and it’s not really a metaphor.
We’re made up of hundreds of bones, muscles and tendons that allow us to move in space, and the list of skills that the human body is capable of is impressive and amazing.
Like any machine, we too have an operating system,
and you know very well, it’s in the brain, therefore; every technical training, first and foremost starts in the head. This isn’t a cliché, the first step required to be successful (at the technical level, that is, to succeed in any exercise or sequence) is mental.
Please watch the short video on loop, 4-5 times:
Look carefully at the fingers in slow motion. See how the “next in line” finger already “knows” beforehand, that it will automatically be it’s turn in the sequence of actions… this, gentlemen, is an instruction from above, from my brain. The mind knows everything, long before consciousness. Or in simpler words:
If it seems that I’m “thinking” about my next action, then you’re making a bitter mistake. I “remember” my next action. Like walking… you don’t think about your next step (again, completely literal) when you walk. You just walk, you remember how to walk, and walking is a very basic demonstration of muscle memory inherent in us all.
Now there will be those who will say that “walking is easy…” and I say: let’s say that it’s easy for a one-day old baby. You also learned to walk at some point, around the age of one I guess, and you fell on your ass hundreds if not thousands of times, but you were smart enough not to give up, and in fact you probably didn’t have a choice. Of course, you don’t remember if it was hard or easy. Talking, eating with a fork (or chopsticks), brushing your teeth, riding a bicycle, or in short, any action you perform for enough years until it becomes automatic, is all just like this, muscle memory.
All of us without exception use our muscle memory from morning to night. In most of our day-to-day actions there is an element of muscle memory. I know with an extremely high level of certainty that if the head is in the right place, it’s only a matter of time until we succeed in one drill or another. This is exactly why I tell our trainees that I don’t care about the anecdotal success of any specific movement/drill, it’s just completely meaningless. Success for me is systematic. The drill “succeeds” when we stop treating it as something that needs to be “succeeded”, and start treating it as a default. For us, it’s not an exercise, it’s body language.
I can throw in a thousand examples that describe the same idea: a pianist does not “succeed” in a cue, a basketball player does not “succeed” in dribbling, and so on.
When I look at bartenders technical skills, I see fertile ground for endless development. What does a bartender do when he works? Opens shakers, pours with/without a jigger, stirs, shakes, filters, smiles, serves, moves. This is done of course face-to-face. No matter how you spin it, this is a sequence of actions. This sequence of actions can be done consistently in an admirable and not so admirable way. To do the actions in an impressive and aesthetic way you have to learn to bartend in a much more patient and technical way, it takes time! This requires beyond patience also faith in the process, and an understanding of how our brain/muscle connection works. Ironically these things are much more difficult to add to our toolbox.
It’s much more difficult to be patient, than to learn to turn a spoon. At the end of the day both are the same, the two things are the same.