Visual Reflexes II

The Sixth Sense

Is there really a sixth sense within all of us?  I believe there is, but not in the way that most people perceive its existence. I feel that the state we are in when the so-called sixth sense is functioning is simply the state of heightened subconscious functioning.

When fighting with the subconscious functioning unobstructed, you are capable of perceiving events and actions before they actually happen. It is as if you have tapped into some sort of extra-sensory perception.

E.S.P. should more appropriately be labeled D.S.P., because it is really “developed” sensory perception—not extra-sensory perception. Everyone possesses this amazing sense to some degree. The difference is that some have nurtured its power and some have not. Those who have not made conscious use of the sixth sense may have been unaware or skeptical of its existence.

For the advanced speed student, the sixth sense is used to develop “anticipation skill.” This is the ability to anticipate something happening before actual movement occurs. It is really a mental phenomenon. You are connecting your mind with the opponent’s mind, so that you can read his or her innermost thoughts and intentions before they are initiated.

The following drills were developed for the purpose of improving your anticipation skills.

TV Response

In this drill you may use punches, kicks, knees, elbows, blocks, or defensive ducking for your responses. Full power should not be used because you will only be striking air. (Always hit a target when practicing full power movements.) 

A TV will be needed for this drill. Stand about eight feet from the TV. Turn on a program that has a lot of action, such as a fast-paced cartoon or action movie.

Turn the volume all the way down. You only want to see the show—not hear it. You should notice the picture changing constantly from one camera shot to another. Every time the picture changes, strike, block or slip as fast as you can in response to the change. Immediately resume your starting position and respond to the next picture change. You can use something as simple as a jab or front kick.

React every time the camera shot changes. Do not think about it, or try to anticipate it—just react! Your goal is to reduce the lag time between the camera change and your physical action.

Eventually you will notice that it seems as though you are striking or blocking at the same time the camera shot is changing. This reflexive skill is vital to success in competition and self-defense.

Keep your mind clear and try to stick with every change of the scene. You should keep your body relaxed and your movements as smooth as possible. Practice this drill for as long as you can maintain the constant reaction to the scene changes. Stop and rest if you begin to get sloppy or tired. Practicing sloppy movements will only retard your progress as it pertains to speed and reflex development.

Traffic Light

While driving or riding in a vehicle, you can work on your anticipation skills by reacting when the traffic light changes from red to green. You can respond with a quiet and reflexive “ugh” when the light changes. Do not try to anticipate the green light. Just react. Drag car racers use this drill to develop their reflexes for fast starts.

Caution:  Do not react by slamming the gas pedal to the floor. React quietly and instantaneously before slowly pressing the gas to begin acceleration. Use an appropriate and safe response to avoid injuring anyone.

Video Games

Many athletes use video games to enhance their reaction speed. There are many sophisticated video games on the market today. Do some research by going online and/or visiting your local video game retailer. After testing a few games, choose the ones that are enjoyable and challenging to your reflexes.

Pet Snatch

You can enhance your reaction speed with the help of a pet. Simply hold a rag slightly above a playful dog or cat. When your pet tries to jump for the rag, jerk it away. As you do, simultaneously respond with a quiet “ugh.” (Definitely do not try this with an unfamiliar animal, no matter how fast you become!)

In the initial stages, you can hold the rag high. As your reaction time improves, you can lower the rag closer to your pet for a greater challenge.

Focus Mitt Snatch

For this drill, you can use a focus mitt or your bare hand. Be particularly careful if using your bare hands. Do not strike the hand with full power. Personally, I feel this drill is more beneficial when a focus mitt is used and you allow your partner to strike with full explosion.

Place a focus mitt on one of your hands. As your partner attempts to strike the pad with a jab, you will attempt to jerk it away before the punch can land on the pad.

Tell your partner to go for speed rather than power. He or she should not try to fake you out in order to hit the pad. That is not the purpose of this drill. Your partner should just stand calmly, and try to beat you to the punch by hitting the pad before you can move it. After each attempt, both of you should resume starting positions.

To increase the challenge for you (the receiver), allow your partner to keep his hands in constant motion prior to striking (like a boxer looking for an opening). If your partner keeps hitting the pad, take a step back. As your response time improves, you can move the pad closer.

Another form of this drill is to have your partner try to close the gap on you, before you can evade the attack. This drill depends primarily on footwork, but it also depends on anticipation skill. There is no punching or kicking involved. Simply have your opponent lunge forward as quickly as possible. You should anticipate the movement and evade it or shuffle backward before your partner moves. Resume starting positions and repeat. No fakes or feinting.

As you improve, you can move closer to your partner. You will find that this drill enhances agility as well as anticipation skill.

Diligent practice of these drills will enable you to beat your adversaries to the punch, even when they start to throw their punches first! I guarantee you will be surprised how these simple drills can shorten your response time.

The Focus Point

When fighting, you need a focus point. This aids in helping your Ki function at its maximum level. The best focus point is the opponent’s eyes if you want to perceive an attack as quickly as possible. The next best focus point is the torso area, because it shows you what direction the opponent’s attack is coming from. Use the eyes as a focus point for long-distance fighting and the torso during close fighting and grappling.

The stronger your concentration, the easier it will be for you to read an opponent’s mind. You can test this theory yourself. First, try the previous focus mitt reaction drills while focusing on the arms, legs, or any part of your opponent other than the eyes. You will see how slow your reactions can be. Now, try the same drills while focusing intensely on your opponent’s eyes. You should also turn on your Ki. You will now be able to anticipate your opponent’s moves more easily.

Speed Training Tip

If you are facing multiple attackers in a self-defense situation, you should make use of your peripheral vision to stay aware of all initial movements and threats. To maximize your speed and effectiveness, direct your focus on the eyes of the one opponent you are engaging at each moment during the fight.