The Truth About Reaction Time in the Martial Arts
Reaction time is nothing but a big, fat lie. Everybody seems trapped by reaction time, but in the martial arts, you can get rid of it. Actually, with the data I will give you here, you will find it easy to understand and lose your reaction time.
Reaction time is the gap of time between when something happens and when you respond to it. When that car in front of you, for instance, shows brake lights, it takes three eights of a second for your foot to press the brake pedal. During this three eights of a second distance can close, bumpers can touch, and collisions can occur, unless, of course, you have reduced, or even eliminated your reaction time.
There are actually three types of reaction time. These three types of reaction time are simple to define and easy to understand. The three types of reaction time are past, present and future.
The first type of reaction time, the reaction time that happens in the past, is the kind that gets us killed. Simply, you are too close to the car in front of you, you don’t have three eights of a second before impact. This is the reaction time wherein you input what is happening, shoot the data through the nervous system, get response from mind, shoot the solution action back through the nerves, and, oops, too late.
The second type of reaction time is intuition, it is reaction time in the now, it is commonly seen in such things as sports. The fielder takes off at the crack of the bat, no reaction time, but how did he know where to go and how fast to go? He knew because he was far enough away to input the data from outside the action, and make a decision untainted by being too close to the action.
The third type of reaction time is mushin no shin, which is Japanese for mind of no mind, which is understood by warping the phrase into time of no time. This is the kind of reaction time in which two martial artists face each other, and one strikes, and the other blocks, at the same instant. This stage of reaction time isn’t reaction time at all, but rather existing in the moment, making decisions as the action happens, and not after, and not even requiring distance for the information to input.
To gain the third type of reaction time one must distance oneself from the mechanisms of the body and mind, and act as a human being. This means that one must assume the viewpoint of distance through a mental adjustment, even if there is no distance. This is easily done if one just assumes a posture and looks at the body from the outside.
Another way to gain this perspective is to practice moving slowly and looking at one’s partner. Don’t speed up the game and try to speed up reaction time, rather, slow down the game, look at what is happening, and begin to recognize the factors that occur just before action occurs. Using these two methods one will eventually be able to gain intuition in the face of disaster, attain enlightenment, and live an entirely different life.