All fighters need good reaction time; boxers, kickboxers, whatever – timing is critical both in offense and defense. For years I have searched for ways to improve my reaction time. I have read books by Bruce Lee about mushin reacting without having to process the thought. I have worked on the mental side and the physical side. I have trained with Australia’s former heavy weight champion on speed drills. I trained with Wing Chun masters, boxing champions and purchased more than a few videos on this topic. All were helpful, all contributed to my abilities.
The useful ideas and tips I picked up:
1. Relaxation– If you are tense you are slow. You must learn to be non-telegraphic. For example, when you turn on the light switch, the movement is easy, fast; there is no tension. Why? Because you have no reason to tense up. If you were to punch someone this way you would find your punch to be very fast, very non-telegraphic, you would hit your target before your opponent could react. Why? A relaxed arm moves much faster than a tense arm.
The same is true of defense. I keep my hands open, this way I am more relaxed and I can respond better, be like an echo. When my hands are closed tight into a fist I react slower. Relaxation is an art, in life and in fighting, it takes lots of practice.
2. The positioning of the hands – If you know you are about to fight, the position of your hands is crucial. Your hands are positioned in a way as to protect the center; the head, eyes, solar plexus, groin etc. I incorporate this into our Krav Maga training.
3. Speed Drills – One excellent drill is to get a couple of light weights, dumbbells, and punch in the air. After this put down the weights and try punching a bag, or in the air, you will find that you punch faster. Allow your muscle memory to “remember” this light and easy feeling whenever you punch.
I have found that relaxing drills, in the mind, greatly improved my speed and reaction time.