The Skills of Megaman

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Happy Monday, folks!  I’m currently sitting in the middle of the northeastern snopocalypse and enjoying every second of it.  Nothing better than a hot cup of coffee and a white blanket covering the backyard to make you feel all cozy inside. =D  So, today’s post is, of course, The Skills of Megaman.  Megaman, as I stated in the first post, is not known for his strength, so much as he’s known for his skills.  His ability to copy and inherit weapons systems, programs, and upgrades from enemies is basically unrivaled in the video game world (except for maybe a certain pink puffball), and it’s been the foundation of MULTIPLE successful franchises.

As such, we’re going to be focusing on different methods of rapid skill acquisition in different applications and settings.  We’re also going to touch on some standard abilities he carries over through most of the series’ he’s been in.  Let’s get started!

Combat Adaptability

So, here’s something cool:  You’re a great fighter.  Seriously.  If you’ve played any amount of video games in your life, especially of the Megaman variety, you already possess a great combat skill.  That skill, my friend, is pattern recognition.  Almost every boss fight you’ve ever faced in a game has probably centered around this.  You survive long enough to recognize the inherent patterns in an enemy’s combat style, sort out the variations, and execute upon their weaknesses.

Here’s the thing:  a real life fight is almost the exact same way.  You just have a lot less time than you typically do in a video game.  People are creatures of habit, in everything we do.  The key is to figure out your opponent’s habits before they figure out yours.  Here’s a few tips…

Observe the dominant side.  Most trained fighters will fight with their less dominant hand leading their guard (this is in unarmed combat only – armed combat is almost always the opposite).  Similarly, untrained fighters will usually lead with their dominant hand.  So, if you know what side your opponent is dominant on, you can guess their level of proficiency by which hand they lead with.  If you don’t know which side they’re dominant on, but you can guess by other clues how well trained or practiced they are, then you can usual figure out which side is their dominant.  Either way, figuring out the dominant side will warn you where most of the big power shots (haymakers, hooks, big kicks) will come from.

Guard the head.  You want to last long enough to identify your opponent’s weaknesses.  Leaving your head open to tee off on is not the best way to accomplish this.  Keep your hands up, keep your chin tucked, and accept that while body shots can really suck, they’re a lot less likely to take you out of the fight in one shot.  Remember, in the street, a straight knockout can be fatal, so avoid them at all costs.

Fight your fight.  Hopefully by now you’ve taken my advice and found a good place to study martial arts.  If you haven’t yet, do so (and watch out for McDojos!)  Now, assuming you have started studying something, then you need to fight in your comfort zone, not their.  Are you a grappler?  Get inside and go to town.  Striker?  Keep your distance, remember your targets, watch for takedowns.  Above all else, don’t let your opponent use mind games to throw you, or bully you around.  Fight your fight.

Fights are dangerous and unscripted.  I cannot give you a 100% foolproof strategy to help you win every single one.  But observation before conflict, protecting your person, and fighting to your own strengths are good guidelines to stick with in any conflict.  With enough practice and hard work, you too can become a Super Fighting Robot.  Well, maybe not a robot.  You know what I mean.

Rapid Skill Acquisition

So, one of the cool things about being a human being is that we are ridiculously good at learning things.  Seriously, acquiring a new skill set is basically a human super power.  To put it in robot terms, we’re carrying basically the same hardware that allowed us to learn how to kill mammoths, and we’ve adapted that hardware to develop vehicles that travel to other planets.  That’s like using an abacus to play Dragon Age: Inquisition on a 4K display at 60 FPS.  Super.  Power.

So, how do we unlock this super power?  I mean, most people have things that they’ve tried to learn, and then failed miserably, fell off the bandwagon, and generally gotten discouraged.  C’mon, man, we learned how to walk, talk, read, write, and dance (well, some of us) within the first six or seven years of our lives!  What happened?!

A lot of people think that learning gets harder as you get older.  This is not the case.  What if I told you, you could learn a new skill in a DAY, no matter what age you are?!  Don’t believe me?  Fine, I’ll prove it.

First off, though, here’s a few qualifiers.  When I say a day, I mean twenty four hours of practice.  All at once?  No!  We’re gonna divide em up!  It’ll work, I promise.  Second qualifier: I said learn a skill, not master it.  I promise you, you can learn how to juggle three balls with twenty four hours of practice.  However, you will not become this guy in 24 hours.  Can you become him?  Yes!  But it will take a little more investment of time.  That said, you can definitely learn enough in 24 hours to be impressive at a party!  =P

So, here’s your guidelines to learning a new skill in a day or less.

Pick a Small, Defined Goal

To continue our juggling analogy, saying “I will learn how to juggle” is not a small, defined goal.  It’s broad, and vague, and can lead to overwhelming discouragement (more on this in a bit).  “I will learn a basic three-ball juggle,” however, is a fantastic goal, and definitely do-able in your short time table.

Work a Little Bit Every Day

Our brains don’t actually like to do new things things for a long period of time.  They get tired, and discouraged (still coming up), and stop being productive.  Twenty to thirty minutes a day should be it, especially when you’re starting out.  That will give you your required 24 hours in less than a month, which means, even if you’re only learning one skill at a time, you can still pick up at least six new skills a year.  That’s incredible.

Sleep

Sleep is when your body and brain process what you did during the day.  You catalog, categorize, and go over everything you did, physically and mentally.  In fact, studies have shown that sleeping within four hours of practicing your new skill (even if it’s just a quick nap), can drastically increase your retention and learning rate.

Play

Remember the little kid learning analogy I made at the beginning?  Kids learn quickly because they learn through play.  Think about how quickly you pick up new control schemes and move sets in video games.  You don’t notice the incredibly fast learning you’re doing because you’re playing at it!  Don’t just read about and research a new skill, play with it!  Practicing your new skill should feel like a fun game.  This is especially important when you’re trying to…

Avoid Discouragement

The other reason we learn faster as little kids is because we don’t know about feeling self conscious yet.  We don’t berate ourselves for screwing up, or getting something wrong.  This is something I see ALL THE TIME in my adult karate students.  Little kids don’t care when they screw up, but adults and older teens seem to hang onto mistakes and berate themselves for it.  Stop.  You’re new at this, you’re supposed to screw up!  In fact, the more you think outside the box and screw up while in your initial learning phases, the better your understanding of the new skill will eventually be.  Don’t get down on yourself, have fun!

So, seriously, give this a shot.  Pick a skill, give yourself two months, and do a half hour a day.  This is kind of like The Jerry Seinfeld Method we talked about a while ago.  Give it a shot, and unleash your inner Megaman!

Jump and Shoot Man

So, Megaman has a lot of incarnations and various versions of himself.  Almost ALL of his variants feature a few basic skills!  The most notable of these, of course, is his jumping.  So, let’s take a look at some jumping variants!

The Precision Jump

One of the hallmarks of parkour is precision jumping.  This is a static, two-footed jump where you land on a very small space with very exact balance.  Megaman, similarly, needs to land every jump he makes with precision, or he’s gonna fall to his circuitry-exploding doom.  SO!  Here’s a solid video tutorial for you, because writing out parkour instructions is a lesson in failure!

The Tic-Tac/Wall Run/Wall Kick

Here’s a second jump option, too!  One of X’s signature moves, the ability to kick off of walls and use them to increase your vertical jump is a powerful skill.  Here’s a cool instructional video from a guy dressed as an Assassin!  (he’s also got a pretty good vertical wall run tutorial, too).

Obviously, there’s a lot more to parkour than this, but Megaman isn’t really a parkour guy, he just incorporates a few skills.  If you’re interested in learning more parkour, I’d definitely recommend checking out The Skills of Faith, my dedicated parkour writeup.

So, that’s it for The Skills of Megaman!  I hope you enjoyed them.  I’m off to dig out my car.  Let me know what you thought of this writeup in the comments below, or over on the official forum thread.  I’ll see you again on Thursday, with The Mind of Megaman!  Until then, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!

Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace

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