I got an 8th kyu Taekwondo yellow belt to hold the kick shield for our 6th kyu green belt. Part of the discussion was how best to hold the kick shield (hold it like you're in a fighting stance), and why it helps you grow as a martial artist.
So my green belt kicks the target, steps aside ... and I have a go. I performed the kick with less power, but faster, crisper, and was purposely done not to telegraph as much. I did that a few times, then kicked it a little harder to show how it differs when you penetrate the target with more thrusting power.
Most people, and thus most practitioners have to content with the same implements - two hands, two legs, and core trunk. Moving the extremities and making them work against gravity and physical laws essentially create the same preparatory movements -- basically the moves that are 'telegraphed'. These telegraphed moves are read and taken in by the person holding the kick shield.
So the more time you spend holding the bag, and the more you grow as a practitioner, the more you can make sense of the telegraphed moves before the kick comes. This growing awareness, hopefully coupled with the faster physical response time (and better technical skill), allows you to read your opponent earlier and respond with better timeliness.
Higher belts will move like they're almost predicting the future. Obviously this can't happen, but so long as you have a gut feeling, you can act on an intelligent guess and surge ahead with your own taekwondo technique.
This is the way to go for action-response type situations.
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