Wednesday, 7 January 2009

The Importance of Good Reflexes

When practising techniques through shadow fighting, heavy bag training, focus mitts or sparring, your guard must always be one of the main things you think about. Without a good guard, you leave yourself open to strikes when attacking. Plus, if your guard is held in the right place whilst you are attacking, it is easier for you to defend stop hits, counters and other defensive measures your opponent decides to use.

Because of the importance of a good guard and in order to be sufficient in defending attacks from your opponent through covering up, blocking etc, most martial artists spend much training time developing these skills. However, guarding properly and good defensive requirements are merely 50% of what is needed to not get hit.

This 50% is practised regularly and clearly understood from very early on by most martial artists. However, the other 50% requirement which many rarely practise is ones reflexes.

A reflex is defined as “an automatic response to a simple stimulus which does not require mental processing”.

So, you can be guarding yourself in the best possible way when attacking and can have the best defence in the world, but without good reflexes, you wont have time to stop yourself getting hit. Many martial artists develop there reflexes merely through sparring because this is the only time they have someone striking back at them.

Although this always helps, there are so many other ways to develop good reflexes. A speedbag and top and bottom bag are excellent training tools for this. Simply having a partner throw single strikes at you as you defend, getting faster over time, is also a good drill. One method which is very old school is to stand about half a meter away from a wall and in a continuous rhythm, throw a tennis ball against it, then catch it using only one hand. By constantly keeping your eyes on the ball and full concentration on catching it, you can develop very good reflexes with this drill.

After much time developing your reflexes you shall automatically respond much faster to attacks and counters from your opponent making yourself a much better fighter. Also by constantly successfully defending your opponents strikes, not allowing him to hit you, can frustrate your opponent and when he/she is frustrated it is very easy for them to become sloppy and careless maybe giving you an opportunity to dominate.


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Zyaga said...

Loved the article.

I often use my speed bag for various reflex training methods. Sometime I'll probably go over the different ways I use my speed bag, on my website.

Faster reflexes lead to faster knock outs. ;)

MARKS said...

Zyaga, many thanks for your comments. I agree with, faster reflexes do lead to faster knockouts

Adam @ Low Tech Combat said...

Reflexes are important in combat for sure and often overlooked.

One little thing I would like to add is that it is important not to convert good reflex training on the speedbag and top to bottom bags into an activity that more develops rhythm.

By this I mean getting into too much of a set rhythm when using these training tools. It is important to break the rhythm so the reflexes are forced more into the equation.

Sparring and other activities as mentioned in the post are much better for targeting the reflexes as a person is far less predictable than a bouncing ball so to speak.

Just beware rhythm doesn't take over from the reflexes. My 2 cents.

MARKS said...

ADAM, I completly agree with you, training aids have there place but also have there limit.

This is one of the disadvantages to bag work in my opinion. It is easy for people to get locked into the rhythm of bag training when fighting/sparring is a constant changing rhthym.

Elias said...

My reflexes suck. Thanks for this post; I really needed something like this ^^

MARKS said...

ELIAS - Dont worry, we acould all do with improving, especially me!

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