My Episode of Superhuman Airs Tomorrow Night!

Last year I was lucky enough to take part in the second episode of Superhuman, which will be airing tomorrow night at 8 pm central! I do a solo challenge alongside 4 other contestants doing their own unique challenges, and then the judges and audience pick a winner. It was pretty amazing. Cathy and I got to meet Mike Tyson and Christina Milian! I'll keep the challenge a surprise, but if you're interested, check it out tomorrow night 9/8c on Fox!

If you missed it, you can check out the memorization part of my challenge on YT already (see video below).

You can now watch the full episode (S01E02) at this link. My challenge starts around 30:46.

Flash Profile with Chinese Memory Athlete Su Zehe

Chinese memory athlete Su Zehe just won the 2017 Philippine Open and broke the world record in the IAM's new 5 minute images event. I had the fortune of meeting him at the 2016 World Memory Championship in Singapore and again in Nanjing for the The Brain TV show. I had a chance to do a short interview (more of a flash profile) with him in Nanjing. Hope you enjoy!

At the 2016 World Memory Championship in Singapore. Left to right: me, Huang Shenghua, and Su Zehe.

At the 2016 World Memory Championship in Singapore. Left to right: me, Huang Shenghua, and Su Zehe.

Name: 苏泽河, Su Zehe (Su1 Ze2He2)

Recent competition results: 2017 Philippine Open – 1st place (full results here), 2016 World Memory Championship – 3rd place (full results here).

Rank: world #9, national (China) #1

You can read Su Zehe’s full IAM profile here.

From: a Southeast province of China, close to Taiwan

Intro to memory sports: came across a book about memory techniques in high school; interest was again piqued by watching memory athletes on the Chinese TV show 最强大脑 (“The Brain”).

Su Zehe was himself a contestant on the show this season. You can watch his challenge here. You can find his Weibo page here (although you will need a Weibo account to view).

Career interests/hobbies: interested in working for a memory company; likes practicing magic.

Training tools/history: practices mostly on paper; will occasionally use the Chinese Extreme Memory website (which had an online competition this past year), although not very often; trained alongside Zheng Aiqiang (world #17); will often communicate with other Chinese memory athletes via WeChat groups.

Systems: 2-digit/1-card, 2 images/locus, similar to the majority of Chinese competitors.

A Brief Summary of Lifestyle Habits

I recently received a question about my lifestyle habits (re: exercise, sleep, meditation, diet, etc.), so I wanted to post a brief answer here. I'm often asked if I take supplements, so I've included that as well. Hopefully I'll get around to writing something more detailed, but for now here's a (very) brief summary:

I wouldn't say my lifestyle goals have changed since starting memory sports, although my involvement has given me extra motivation to stick to them. My approach is pretty basic. Nothing ground-breaking. I try to exercise daily--a combination of weights, cardio, and calisthenics. I shoot for 7.5+ hours of sleep. I meditate 10-20 minutes per day with the Headspace app. I don't keep a strict diet, but I try to eat a lot of vegetables and fish. I take one NOW DHA-500 capsule each day; this is the only supplement I take. I avoid soda and sugary drinks.

For more about my memory training schedule, see "What is your training schedule like?" on the Tips page.

You can read about 2x world memory champion Wang Feng's lifestyle habits in our interview here.

My (Theoretical) Approach to Chinese Characters & Homonyms

I've gotten a few questions about my approach to Chinese character memorization. I answered one of these as a comment under Part 2: Issues, Tweaks, and Examples, but I wanted to repost it here to expand it and make it easier to find. It's a tricky topic. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in Part 1, my Chinese learning has thus far focused on spoken Chinese. I plan to expand into written Chinese at some point, but I've prioritzed spoken for two reasons: (1) Communicating with relatives--my wife's family is Taiwanese--has always been my primary goal. (2) Chinese learning is very much a side project currently, so I didn't want to overwhelm myself. When I took a semester of Chinese in college, I learned a few hundred characters, and I can confirm it feels like a monumental task. All that said, I have a reasonably well-developed idea about how I'd approach characters with the help of memory techniques. Here were the original questions, each followed by my response:

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Interview with a Memory Expert: 2x World Memory Champion Wang Feng

At only 20-years-old, China's Wang Feng burst onto the memory scene, winning the 2010 World Memory Championship. The first non-European to win, he defended his title in 2011, signaling a cultural shift in the competitive memory world. China had become a new powerhouse in a sport dominated by England and Germany. Although he retired from official competition following his '11 victory, Wang Feng, now 27, has remained active, teaching and repeatedly appearing on China's #1 TV Show, The Brain. I had the recent fortune of competing with him on the show. Here's an interview I conducted with him shortly thereafter. I hope you enjoy!

2010年,年仅二十岁的王峰以黑马的姿态赢得世界脑力锦标赛总冠军。是第一个来自欧洲之外获此殊荣的的人。隔年他再度出赛, 成功卫冕2011年世界总冠军,开启了记忆竞赛的新时代,在一向由英国和德国主宰的记忆运动舞台上,中国成为新兴的强大势力。获得两次世界冠军之后,王峰从官方比赛退休,忙于教学,并屡次出现在中国收视率第一的脑力竞技电节目—最强大脑。我最近很荣幸有机会和王峰在这个节目中竞技。以下是赛后不久我对他的访问,希望你们喜欢。

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Question of the Week: Do You Ever Erase Palaces?

Here's a question we've gotten a lot recently: Do you ever erase palaces or actively clean them of old images?

You might consider making an active effort to erase "ghost images"--images on loci you want to reuse. The short answer is that I never actively clean palaces, whether for memory sports or learning projects. For clarity, I'll split the discussion into those two parts...

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Episode #2 on 最强大脑 ("The Brain" TV Show)

I was lucky enough to go back to China for another appearance on 最强大脑 ("The Brain" TV Show). Pretty nuts, it's like the #1 show there! Thank you to the producers for having me back! This time I was up against... get this... an artificial intelligence robot nicknamed "Xiao Du." The "Du" comes from its makers, the folks at Bai Du search engine (the Chinese equivalent of Google).

My challenge had to be robot-friendly, and since Xiao Du would no doubt flatten me in any conceivable memory task, it had to be something outside my usual memory skill set. Here's what they settled on: Using a photo of one middle-aged couple, I had to pick their 20-year-old daughter out of a lineup of 40 random girls. All Chinese families, mind you. If it sounds impossible, that's because it was! Other than studying eyes and ears and face shape (and then choosing mostly on gut anyway), I had next to no idea what I was doing. But I did my best, and luckily it could've ended worse!

One of the great things about going back was that Cathy and my sister-in-law Dora both came with me, and we had much more time to explore Nanjing, which is an awesome city (photos at the bottom). Check out the full video here (my segment starts around 28:30; again, all in Chinese, except when I speak): Watch Here

(Unfortunately I've had to move the link away from Youtube as the channel removed the video).