In the following video Wang Feng is sharing his memory system basically 2 digit system. All Chinese use this.
Do you speak Chinese? I only saw a few seconds of it, but don’t know any Chinese.
Not fluently. In this Part at 02:16 Wang Feng talks about his codes 1-10. All Chinese!
It would be interesting to get someone who knows Chinese to translate this…
It would be great to get that translated…
It doesn’t look phonetic:
01 = tree with 1 trunk
02 = 2 bells
03 = stool with 3 legs
04 = car with 4 wheels
05 = gloves with 5 fingers
06 = gun (“six shooter”?)
07 = number shape – some kind of axe or adze?
10 = number shape: bat with ball
The thing I’m most curious about is how he places his images and deals with repeated images. With only 100 images, things tend to repeat a lot.
Images repeat but he managed to do it by combining 2 images together. Which covers 4 digit in one location. With practice it becomes very fast and it works like you only have one image.
Yuan Wenkui told me that all Chinese use images to remember because their language works that way. Some numbers have sounds and some looks similar to shape. In Wang Feng system he basically have numeral association and No.7 is actually a Sickle. Then with practice you don’t have to even think about it.
I am familiar with codes of Wang Feng 1-100 which are interesting and which helps to understand more about their system.
Are his images posted online somewhere? I’m curious what images he uses…
My Chinese is a bit rusty, but I think he said, “I owe a big debt of gratitude to Josh at mnemotechnics.org”
Hehe… I don’t think he has ever seen the site. The only record-breaking memory champions that have stopped by the site to offer some advice (that I know of) are Nelson Dellis, Ben Pridmore, and Simon Reinhardt…
By the way, does anyone have Wang Feng’s email address? Please send it to me through the contact form if anyone knows it:
This reply is about a year late. But I think you guys might find it interesting.
I am Chinese, and I do read his blog once in a while so I am aware of the number system he uses. He basically uses a combination of number rhyme system (if they rhyme) or number shape system (For example 11 is chopsticks), or association (for example 12 is calendar) for every number up to 99.
For example, 27 in Chinese is er (two) qi(seven), sounds like er ji (headphone).
99 is jiu (9) jiu (9), sounds like jiu jiu (uncle).
28 is er (2) ba (8 ), sounds like e ba (gangster).
51 is wu (5) yi (1), sounds like wu yi (martial arts).
52 is wu (5) er (2), sounds like gu er (small drum).
70 is qi (7) ling (0 ) , sounds like qi ling (a dragon like mythical creature in chinese culture) or bing qi ling (icecream)
I think that is one of the reasons why they can code numbers extremely fast and do not need to invest much time into expanding the system into more digits. Almost every number has a sound alike object. So for chinese, they can pick up really fast and get really fluent at it.
I read one review from a chinese mnemonist (Yuan Wen Kui) about Dominic o’Brien’s book (you can have an amazing memory), he paid a lot of respect to Dominic O’Brien. He commented that DOMINIC System is of no use for Chinese people because of the language background. All they need is using rhyming. One of my friends from China basically knew 100 digits of Pi without any number system because they can basically make it like a little poem and it rhymes really nicely.
Wang Feng basically put 2 objects (4 numbers) on each locus. Simple is better. To them, each word is more than second nature to them as every time they read the number out, it is already an image for every 2 digits.
A simple system combined with extreme amounts of training each day equals the results that Wang gets
can anyone send a link regarding his training schedule (or more information about him)? I would love to see what someone at his level actually does for practice / how seriously they take it (does he also have another job? or does he literally just train 16 hours a day and then crash from exhaustion haha)
as I become more serious about training, I’m very curious to know what has proven to be effective to see big results. (e.g. does Dominic O’Brien make a new 250 loci journeys everyday – in addition to memorizing 10 decks of cards, etc.).
Hi, I am a Chinese from Hong Kong. I participated in the WMC 2010 & 2011 and gained my Grandmaster title last year.
Wang Feng is a University student. Before he got his Grandmaster title in 2009, he had been trained at a memory summer camp in the University for 6 - 7 hours every day. After 20 days of training, he could memorized a deck of cards under 2 minutes. He had practiced the skill for six months before he went to the WMC 2009 and got the fifth place. A month before the WMC 2010, he took a month off school so that he could practice every day without any disturbance.
Basically, most of the Chinese in the WMC last two year trained for at least 7 hours for 6 months before the championships. The link below is an interview with Wang Feng after WMC 2010. Last year first runner up Liu Su is also in the show. The number system that they are using is pretty much the same system every Chinese memory athletes use (with some minor variation). Let me know if anyone wants translation.
Thanks for the response atkfong.
From your response it seems that Wang Feng is just insanely talented: being able to get to a 2 minute deck in 20 days is quite impressive – especially considering that 6-7 hours of training every day is quite intense (not everyone could even train that hard)
Memory summer camp sounds awesome!! I wish there was something like that here in the states haha I would definitely go. Did you participate in this program? I would love to know what the training schedules are like.
That video is seems very interesting – is there an english transcript I can see somewhere?
Also, I would love to know what you did for training in order to reach the GMM status as well as any tips you may have in order to improve most efficiently.
FYI, most of the top ten Chinese memory athletes, including Wang Feng, Liu Shu and Li Wei, are from Wuhan University. I bet their memory summer camp must be very good. Unfortunately, I didn’t study there, so I don’t know their training schedules.
I don’t seem to see any English transcript online. If you have question on any specific part, you can let me know.
Regarding my training, I took about a month off before last year championship, so that I could have some very intensive training. I’ll probably talk more about it later in some other posts.
Wang Feng- Smart Genius (In English)
Interesting, I thought that the Chinese system was based mainly on the number shape system rather than number rhyme system. It’s also obvious that this system would only be useful to those that speak Chinese?.
I don’t really see the benefit of the number rhyme system over the major system. Both use phonetics. I would think that a number shape system would be faster than both the number rhyme system and major. It cuts out the sub vocalization that’s needed for the number rhyme and major. However, I also don’t see the practicality of a 3 digit number shape system, which makes the 3 digit major in my opinion more favorable (i.e. more images to use and more information per loci)
Wang definitely is gifted and has the motivation to put in the time to perfect his ability. I honestly think that if he were to use a 3 digit major system, he would blow away his current records. It’s apparent that there is no magic with the system he’s using…
I guess the only difference between using number rhyme and major system is that, in Chinese number rhyme immediately translate numbers into words. Whereas in Major System, you translate every digit into a more arbitrary phonetic sound then words. So, I guess it takes a longer time in the beginning to get a hang of it. That being said, once the systems are mastered, it should be automatic. To be honest, number shape system is used quite sparingly in Chinese number system, other than the obvious 1 to 10 (even so, they don’t use number shape for all of them), 00 for binoculars etc…
I don’t know if he would do very well with 3-digit major system. As he would have to relearn a whole new system and English can never be as natural as his mother tongue. And he had to learn 1000 combinations. If he were to get that down, sure he would do well. But I doubt it would be as good as his current system.
I do still think, simpler systems work better and faster and practice makes perfect.