Krav Maga Reaction Time
Improving Reaction Time
Are you familiar with any drills that can help with reaction to strikes, or drills that can help improve the bodies reaction times in a defensive manner?
This is a very good and important question.
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. However, there where still not enough.
First, the useful ideas and tips I picked up. This is of course a brief summary; much mental and physical practice is required.
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. In Wing Chun we have the Center Line Theory. 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.
But still, this was not enough. Most of these drills are good for sport fighters only. I.e. you know you are in a fight, you are getting ready to fight, you have time to position your body and mind accordingly.
Krav Maga is not about tournaments, or sports fighting; it is about real life, real time self defense. As such you are not really expecting to be hit, your hands and body are not in the proper position. You need something more, something better.
What I have discovered, is that all boxing drills are not enough. Our reaction time will still not be enough. I have consulted with many experts in the field and we are all in agreement; a sucker punch is almost impossible to stop using traditional approaches. In fact it is well known that some boxing champions were surprised by punches on the street. When you are wearing a suit and walking into a restaurant it is very different from when you are wearing boxing trunks and you are in the ring.
My solution is actually quite simple, and, this can be practiced alone. Here is the great innovation, and I teach this to my students; do not look at the attackers' strike, do not try to grab it, intercept it, or block it. Do not be concerned where it is. Instead, focus on defending your own body, i.e. do not reach out to the attacking limb, rather, lift up your arms and protect the part of your body most likely to get hit.
If a strike is heading towards the general area of your head; tuck in your chin (protecting the throat and preventing whiplash), bring up your shoulders, tighten your body, put your forehead forward, have your arms shoot up in front of your face. Train and make this your natural reaction to any strike coming your way. This is not a speed drill, it is a body reaction that will eliminate most of the initial damage to you and allow you time to react.
Simple but effective
Again, don't go chasing his arm, don't try to figure out what angle it is coming in at, don't side step, weave and bob, or anything along those lines. There is in a real life situation. Just work on this simple drill; chin in, shoulders up, forehead forward, hands up in front of your face. This is simple, easy, and effective. Once you react this way, and avoid the blow of the surprise, you can counter attack or disengage.