reported that researchers are studying karate 'masters' in order to improve cricket technique because they had found that said masters can anticipate where an attack is coming from before their opponent had even moved.
Is this ability magic? Is it mystical? The martial arts abounds with such magical and mystical myths. What are these magical and mystical myths? They are simply our inability to explain natural phenomenon.
The above article reminds me of Gary Klein's work on intuition. Klein was tasked by the US military to find out how veterans made decisions in high stress environments. His initial ideas were debunked when he observed veteran firefighters and asked them how they made life saving decisions. They responded by saying they didn't know, they just 'knew.'
Eventually, Klein deduced that intuition was a process of pattern recognition. It involved comparison, classification, and analogy - the core of all learning (see my book). Unconsciously, the individual compares the outside experience with the inside experiences which are conveniently classified. This becomes a process of analogy. When a similar experience is identified, action is then initiated. This is all an unconscious process, and is a cognitive ability that was selected for in nature because it conferred a survival advantage on an individual.
Why is it that more experienced people have better intuition? It's because they have more patterns to compare to experiences they experience.
How do karate masters anticipate an opponent's action before they have moved. It's because they unconsciously can see certain stimuli that indicate the attack. This is the real subject of the above study. How can you improve 'intuition.' More experience of course, but also, more specific type of experiences. If you know what the unconscious cues are you can rearrange training around providing more patterns associated with these unconscious cues. Simply training more is an inefficient way of improving intuition. More targeted training with the aid of understanding produces an efficient training model that produces effective practitioners faster.