How to Improve Reaction Time

I assume because of the V neck uniform these guys are doing WTF Taekwondo - specialists in kicks (that's why they're not using their hands). The How to Improve Reaction Time video discusses a few solid ideas that can be applied even by traditional practitioners.

Improving Taekwondo Reaction Time
I really don't like the use of this term. Many people have a set reaction speed, and no matter how much training will not really significantly improve their ability to react to a specific external stimuli. Most often it's about just reducing the additional spare tyre you have around your gut, but that's something else altogether. Let's talk about what other things can work for you:

Slow Down the Opponent
Yes, forget trying to get fitter and faster. First do something that can immediately take effect. You can slow down the opponent by hitting him hard in places where he doesn't enjoy. Getting tagged in one spot creates pain. Having your opponent keep going for that spot creates uncertainty. Uncertainty can be used to open up other holes in his defences. And you don't necessarily have to kick him in the groin to make this happen - but that *is* one way to do it.

Distract Your Opponent
Have you ever talked to your opponent while sparring? It's an interesting experiencing - communicating to your opponent while they're trying to launch something at you. It's tough focusing on higher order thinking whilst trying to dish out attacks. Hint.

Reducing Combination Lag Time
I am a big proponent of training for competition. If you want to hit a person, you may need to launch more than one technique. So put a few sequences together involving gap closing tactics or feints, and make them work for you by drilling them over and over again. Choose different sequences for both left and right side to keep your opponent guessing.

Mirror Opposite Training
Do you think only the biggest losers will telegraph? No ... EVERYONE should telegraph. Many people telegraph by swinging the arms in a certain way for kicks. Or shifting their body. You do it all the time. My challenge to you is to get yourself in the mirror and either 1) reduce the amount of telegraphed movement, or 2) do the exact opposite of that move. Yes, if you tend to move your arms in a certain way, move them the other way and confuse the crap out of your opponent. It's game on!

Pretend to be Hurt
Oh you po' thing. Sun Tzu says All War is Deception. Or do you think you're not man enough to act? Start limping after your first encounter. Hold on to your cup. Nurse your hand. Sparring is all about getting into your opponent's head and messing around with it.

Train the Opponent
Bill Wallace says the way to 'train' your opponent is to just throw the technique. You don't have to do it with force. You just have to throw it out. Do that once. Do that twice. The third time however switch it in mid air to a new technique. Or start it, wait for the reaction, and follow through with another technique.

Use Invisible Techniques (see How to Hit Opponents with Invisible Techniques)
They're not so much invisible but harder to see from the opponent's point of view. The techniques hide behind cover for longer, they enter from the opponent's blind spot, under their extended limbs, or are done much closer to the opponent, so he only really recognises it just before he gets hit. Again work in front of the mirror or experiment at slower speeds with a training buddy. For examples of what you can do, check out the above link. Have fun!


Colin Wee
Chung Sah Nim (Principal), Joong Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do
School of the Middle Way - the point between older Okinawan predecessors and modern Korean innovations. Started as HRGB April 2000, reborn as JDK Sept 2011.
Traditional Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Tkd Sitemap]. Colin is a martial art instructor with 28 years of experience across three continents. Colin leads a small Traditional Taekwondo group for adults in Perth, Western Australia. Connect with Colin on Traditional Taekwondo FB page. And help us rank on Google by clicking the '+1' icon, why don't you?
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SooShimKwan said…

Nice tips.

Love the new look and congrats with the new name. Your's continue to be one of the best Taekwon-Do blogs out there!
Colin Wee said…

What an amazing compliment!

Huge thanks!

Craig said…
Hey Colin,
We haven't talked in a while so I thought I would drop a quick note (love the new look by the way). I hope you don't mind that I talked about one of your posts on my site here:
Please let me know if you would rather not have me do that. I just check out your site every week and you have such great topics and relevant information I think my readers would like as well.
Anyway take care!
Colin Wee said…
Craig - yes long time no speak. Happy to have you mention a post of ours on your site! Glad you liked it enough. BTW - if you want to feel free to promote your site at our facebook page too. Cheers, Colin

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