Learn and Train

Note importante: Pour ceux et celles qui ne sont pas très à l’aise avec l’anglais, toutes nos excuses si cette page n’a pas encore été traduite. Les unilingues francophones qui souhaitent apprendre à utiliser l’art de la mémoire sont invités à suivre certains des liens qui se trouvent sur cette page. Si vous souhaitez apprendre à résoudre un cube Rubik, le site Francocube est une ressource inestimable. Une ou deux soirées d’étude et de pratique sont généralement suffisantes pour réussir à le résoudre une première fois. Pour l’apprentissage de façon plus général, nous vous recommandons d’explorer cette page du site artdelamemoire.org.

“Because anyone can learn to do what we do”

Did you notice that slogan that we choose to prominently feature everywhere on this website? We mean it. We’re not geniuses. We weren’t born with a great memory or with the ability to solve a Rubik’s cube or do lightning fast calculations. Although not everyone will reach the same levels at the same speed, anyone can spectacularly increase his or her skills in almost any domain, including of course in the three “mind sports” that we’re promoting. We think the world would be a better place if people realized how they can train their brain like they can train their body. Please stop saying or thinking that you have “a bad memory”, you’re “not good at math”, you could “never solve one of those”, you’re “not a musical person”, you’re “not good at languages” and so on. The reality is that those skills are (almost) all about efforts, persistence and learning how to learn.

Becoming one of the best in the world usually takes years of efforts. But if you proceed intelligently, becoming decent or “good enough” only takes about 20 hours of dedicated efforts, or about 45 minutes a day for about a month. 20 hours might seem like a lot, but that’s much less than the average amount of time the average person spends in front of the TV every single week (and that’s without counting all the time we spend with our cell phone or randomly surfing the Web). When it comes to learning memory sports, mental math and cubing, very significant progress can be made in much less than 20 hours. For example the beginner’s method for solving the cube can be learned in maybe one to six hours. In the right conditions the art of memory can lead to seemingly spectacular results almost overnight, although you’ll probably need more practice to learn to use it autonomously with ease. And for mental math there are many very cool tricks that you can learn in a few minutes.

Want to learn more? Below you’ll find just enough great resources to satisfy your curiosity. We’re short on time now but we have some pretty ambitious goals for this section of the CMSA website, so be sure to come back here later for more helpful articles and videos.

About the art of memory

The art of memory is one of the coolest, most amazing, most fun and most useful skill that you can choose to acquire. It truly is something anyone can do as long as you’re willing to invest some efforts for a little while. It’s a baffling scandal that so few people are currently aware of this. Unlike other complex skills like playing a musical instrument, under the right conditions, impressive results can be achieved almost overnight. It doesn’t mean it’s easy though, it just means that you can do it if you put your cell phone away for a little while, focus and use your imagination. And although it most likely won’t be long before you see some great results, you’ll still need to keep practicing for a while before using the art of memory autonomously can become easy. Click here for a variety of resources you can use.

About the Rubik’s cube

Check out this great 4-minute video to understand what cubing is all about. “The biggest misconception about cubing is that it’s difficult, which it really isn’t”, says the record holder being interviewed. It may be difficult at first, but so is tying your shoelaces. More advanced methods take much longer to master, but just solving the cube, while it can take a little while, may very well be the easiest apparently difficult skill in the world. You should learn to solve the damn thing and be proud of your accomplishment, but you should also know that it certainly doesn’t mean that you’re smarter than anyone else.

If you speak French, use this great website: www.francocube.com. If you don’t, use this link instead to learn the beginner’s method. That’s really all you need. But if you’d like to go deeper, below are some other helpful links.

If you want to judge and help us out during the championship, please learn the notations.

How to solve a 2×2.

How to solve the Pyraminx (or for a video in French)

Although at least this year we don’t have this as an event, why not learn how to solve a 2×2 blind?

If you know how to memorize numbers, why not convert cubing notations into numbers to help you learn all the different algorithms faster?

About mental math

You remember how to do multiplications and divisions don’t you? Well since you’ll be able to write down your calculations, that’s all you need if you want to compete in the Regular section of our mental math championship. But if you want to become faster, do everything in your head and compete in the Advanced section, here are some of the options available:

– Buy and read this book by Arthur Benjamin and start practicing. If you just need some inspiration and you’d like to hear some cool stories and tricks listen to this interview with the author.

– If you would rather learn with videos, you could also sign up for a free trial on “The Great Courses Plus” website, complete this video course (also by Arthur Benjamin) in less than 14 days and then cancel (or not) your subscription. Or if you prefer, here’s a much older free course by the same guy.

– Another great (and shorter) free series of videos by another teacher is this playlist.

Click here for some sample CMSA disciplines and training tools.

For more difficult problems, it’s really helpful to learn how to use the art of memory to memorize numbers.

Can you quickly tell me what day of the week was October 23, 1743? Last year national mental math champion can calculate the correct answer to dozens of dates in just one minute! How? Here’s one not overly complicated way. And if you have a system for memorizing numbers, here’s a much quicker way (article is in French, but we’ll post an English translation very soon). Just to be clear, you don’t need to learn calendar calculation (although it would be cool if you did) to take part in a CMSA mental math competition. It’s a completely optional challenge that we present at the very end of our event and that no has zero effect on the overall ranking.

About learning how to learn

Although not everyone can become an astronaut or an NBA player, everyone can learn to become very good at (almost) any skill. If you want to you can learn to memorize, you can learn to solve a Rubik’s cube, you can learn to do complex mathematical calculations in your head, you can also learn to play music, learn a new language, learn to be a better public speaker, learn to cook, learn to juggle, learn to dance, anything you want. But you need to believe that you can do it, you need to seek out proper instructions (in person or from good websites, books or videos) and you need to proceed intelligently (step by step while carefully analysing your mistakes), intensely (about 4% above your comfort level) and persistently (your training sessions don’t have to be long, but they should be as frequent as possible).

The links below are there to give you some general principles that you can use with all forms of learning. To be clear, you don’t need to watch them all!

How to learn a new skill in about 20 hours.

About the very important concept that is deliberate practice:

Here’s an excellent free online class about learning. And here’s a short video overview of the excellent book that served as a basis for the class.

Do you have what’s called a “Growth Mindset”? Most people don’t, but they really should learn to develop one:

About how passion and perseverance over the long term are much more important than IQ or “talent”:

By the way you can often speed up Youtube videos by 25 or 50% (sometimes more) without negatively affecting comprehension. You can use this great free software to convert them to mp3 files us and listen to them while doing something else.

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