People who go back into the Matrix have the ability to have their operators "install" information directly into the brain of the users.

Can these people then use this information outside the Matrix? Could the people use the same fighting techniques (within the confines of the laws of physics)?

  • "within the confines of the laws of physics" is the real trick to it...
    – BBlake
    Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 22:28
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    So if someone downloaded the ability to play the piano while jacked in, he should be able to do it in the real world?
    – HNL
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 14:09
  • "So if someone downloaded the ability to play the piano while jacked in, he should be able to do it in the real world?" With the piano i would think so, but with fighting i doubt it. The wouldn't have even close to enough muscle mass or physical conditioning. Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 9:43
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    @Erratak There's a lot of muscle memory involved in playing a piano, as well. Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 18:39

2 Answers 2


In theory, there's no reason they shouldn't be able to; the information is being placed into their brains, not into the matrix. That being said, it's not likely to be that easy -- most skills are a combination of both information / knowledge AND physical skill. The base knowledge can be implanted into the brain, but the physical feedback and development from learning the skill is not so easy.

As an example, I'm a locksmith. I can teach you everything you need to know about picking locks via e-mail, but nothing short of experience will teach you the 'feel' of a pin catching, or give you the experience to adjust your tension correctly. In the Matrix, that's not a problem; the bodies are not real, so default information can be provided. But in the real world, bodies don't have identical inputs / tactile feedback / etc; how it feels to me and how it feels to you aren't the same thing.

Another simple example is throwing knives. It's easy to teach the concepts, but the main part of the skill is gained by experience; I can tell you how to do it, but I can't give you my experience, unless you are in an identical body. In the matrix, no problem.. In the real world... Problem.

Fighting techniques are similar, with additional issues; most martial arts use Katas, or other repetitive patterns to ingrain certain physical responses into the practitioner, as well as to develop their bodies to perform them properly. Reflexes are handled differently than responses; usually triggered when a nerve impulse reaches the spine, not the main part of the brain -- that's why you can't normally prevent them, unless you are aware of them being about to occur, and can preemptively send alternate instructions to your muscles. (Think of being burned, or stabbed; if you are ready for it, you can hold still.. but if not, you are responding before you even know what is happening; that's what reflexes are SUPPOSED to do.) Developed reflexes, unlike true reflexes, occur higher up in the brain.. but they still trigger before conscious thought. That would be rather hard to implant.

So, yeah.. The would still have the knowledge, but it would be more like second hand info; they could use it to train their bodies, but they wouldn't immediately gain the physical skills.

  • See wiki entry on muscle memory.
    – spong
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 4:49
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    See the fight between Neo and Smith/Bane. In the Matrix, they're ballerinas of destruction, in the real world, they fight like drunken bears. Commented Mar 2, 2013 at 23:58
  • @ThomBrannan - In The Matrix, they are ballerinas of destruction because they control the physics there. In real life, still, Neo holds his ground pretty well despite being basically comatose for decades...
    – Stark07
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 9:24
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    Do they actually "know" how to do these things, though? We see them teach Trinity how to fly a helicopter in the Matrix and we see Neo learn a thousand-and-one martial arts techniques, but do they really -know- these things or did they simply trick the Matrix into thinking they know these things? Much of these skills are simply reflexes and muscle memory, they might not be uploading stuff into Neo's brain so much as "hacking" his Matrix avatar to improve it with muscle memory that it didn't actually learn. They might only know -what- they want to do, not how to do it, and their avatar does it.
    – Theik
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 13:10
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    However, isn't all that information ultimately in some way stored in the brain as well? In which case, if you can change the wiring in some parts of the brain, why not in those ones as well? Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 5:56

One thing to add here: Morpheus specifically mentions this in the first training simulation scene with Neo, saying

Do you think my being stronger or faster has anything to do with my muscles, in this place?

The implication being: they don't, Morpheus is stronger and faster because he knows how to bend and break the rules of the computer simulation they're in, like he can in the Matrix, and that's what he's trying to make Neo understand, that his physical limits don't apply so much in the Matrix. He says as much:

What you must learn is that these rules [like gravity] are no different than the rules of a computer system. Some of them can be bent. Others can be broken.

Seems like a pretty clear statement that the reason they can do these things is because they're great hackers, and the Matrix is a big computer simulation. The same doesn't apply to the real world. So I don't think skills transfer from the Matrix into reality, though things become a little more uncertain in the sequels, when the two worlds kinda come together.

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    I think the question is asking things the other way around, not do you take real world skills into the Matrix but rather can you take Matrix skills back to the real world. Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 14:55
  • @Wikis Right, what I was saying is that the answer is No, and Morpheus basically says so in the first training scene. I'll edit my answer.
    – Dan C
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 15:11
  • To me it sounds like the opposite: Neo ran through a general combat training program not being special to the Matrix. But afterwards, Morpheus has to teach him how to develop from there to also ignore physics when being inside the Matrix, the thing, a normal combat training doesn’t teach.
    – Holger
    Commented Aug 4, 2014 at 14:12

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