One of the hardest things to understand when fighting is timing. In a split second, you will need to make a decision on attacking or defending. Whether you are grappling or striking this is important to understand. Early on in training, those decisions are slow and weigh heavily on the mind. What is it that makes these moments so difficult to read correctly? Experience is the major one which I would like to write about today.
Recently, I have regained my interest in doing Muay Thai sparring. It has been a couple of years since the last time. Muay Thai is not my main focus but it supplements my other training. The experience I have in stand-up fighting is less than the ones I chose to spar with. There is no doubt in my mind that I could be knocked unconscious if my training partners choose. It is why I practice with them. Understanding the danger of training inside of the gym puts into perspective the dangers of confrontation outside of it. Pain tends to be great at teaching this. I believe it is the fear of pain and confrontation is that keeps some people from not only sparring but trying any martial art. What you gain from training is the understanding of the dangers though.
As I continue to train and spar against my training partners they teach me to become better. They teach strategies and the inner working of their own thought processes. It always amazes me that the information I give them from my own movement makes them calculate different options in seconds. A drop of my right-hand leads into taking a hook. Fainting a straight punch to notice my head movement for next time. At the highest level, fighting becomes a test of physical skill, endurance and information recognition. Professional fighters spend time learning the tics and tricks of their opponents to make better decisions during their matches. The more information they can get before the fight the more chance they can catch their opponents off guard.
So how do we build instantaneous decision making skill in martial arts? Practising the same moves is not enough. Being put under pressure with the consequence of pain for mistakes plays a massive role. It is one of the reasons I enjoy watching street fights on youtube. First off, I do not believe that violence will be the solution to a lot of problems. Secondly, just because someone knows how to fight effectively does not make confrontations any less dangerous. But when faced with no other choice other than fighting, it helps to know what you are doing. Understanding how you would respond to situations where you could be in real danger is a skill. It is one that not a lot of people practice. The ones that do might not be practising under realistic conditions as well.
It is the moment to moment decisions that will lead us to find our true selves. I find mine in the competition with others. It exposes the weak will, the doubt and the fear inside that I try to understand. I hope you can find your own true selves.