Timing / Boaz Aviram

For years people came up with ideas to make things work. In schools where the student was expected to learn for years, the ideas frequently were lost.

If you traditionally spend most of the times using one or two training methods you will probably tend to use that style in reality. The concept of timing is a very crucial element of fighting.

Timing is the choice, judgment, or control, when something should be done!  The concept was applied in many ways and training methods. First it is understood that if you arrive too late but not too early you might miss an opportunity.

In hand-to-hand-combat, Timing is an aspect of reaction time. When both of opponents' motions' range is about the same, whoever initiates the motion first, will reach its target before his opponent will have the time to foil it.  This is because both need the time to conceive their action planned before hand, and then transmit their conception to the limb for execution. This mental process takes few split seconds. If the distance of the limbs of both opponent to reach each other's pressure point is close enough to their opponent's pressure point whoever initiates the reach mentally first will prevail, as the opponent is left with equal time to reach, but without the time to conceive it. He will use the time to conceive the reach but will never have sufficient time to use his limb to block or hit.

Getting the right timing can be obtained using the following drills: Have your training partner stand few feet away from you and try to approach you while holding a punching mitt. You will have to time for your preparation for a kick to meet the mitt with the ball of your foot or the heel if you are planning on a side kick.

Wait a little longer and meet your training partner’s mitt as he gets closer using a punch. For Hand strikes, once you mastered the principles of striking, use two mitts to facilitate continuous attack to reach a training partner that is using evasive head motion.

Consider the advantages and disadvantages of training aides: Using a heavy bag, the speed bag, and the wooden dummy give you various possibilities for self training. While a live training partner holding a punching mitt, medicine ball, or is covered with rubber padded armor is more challenging and realistic.  Your training partner could not be that motivated to serve as a training dummy for prolonged period of time and will not be available as much as the other, but could be instructed to be used in many ways to improve your timing in a closer to reality fashion.

Remember that a training partner holding punching mitts does not behave exactly as an opponent kicking, punching and blocking as he is concentrating on holding the mitts for you and cannot hold them for you to punch at the exact moment he is also trying to attack you efficiently.

So you will need to break reality into small training portions. Keep control of training in all the portions as if you miss one you could fail in combat.

Many Martial Arts actually derive their style from the rules or traditional training methods. Some have the  tendency to wait for the opponent to get close and use timing for defense and attack, while others prefere to hover in circles around an opponent looking to catch him in a bad angle

So timing can be used to block as your opponent is getting close to you, or to strike, or both. Timing can be used simultaneously as your opponent is distracted his reaction to a flash of light, a flying object, a flying punch although if he is trained well he would probably attempt to react to it properly.

Consider all your options and how to apply all of them with all the aforementioned training aids.  Your defensive options are to jump back, forward, to the side or to attack. If you attack you can direct your attack to the attacking limb of your opponent for example hit his wrist with an open palm, kick his shin with the bottom of your foot or side of leg if he is kicking or just side step from his attack and kick him or punch him. That attack  is called defense, and is a deflection  or a block, and should be followed with an attack to the major body pressure point which is called counter attack.

When you practice attacking, consider he might be moving to all direction including toward you, backward or to the sides back and forth.

While the wooden dummy, is mimicking the arms and legs of the opponent, you are the one that have to do all the moving. The dummy does not move much. But its arms call for you to slightly change your angle of approach or move to attack from a different angle.

Perhaps the timing practice with the dummy is also executed each time you move in closer as your subconscious is getting more aware of your necessity to intercept one of the pegs that is pointed at you, and you will have to deflect it as you move in closer.

Do you think you can do boxing style strikes with a wooden dummy? A good idea is to pick the most efficient style of striking to train using it and defending against it. That way it will be easier to deflect less efficient styles as well from a timing perspective.

Straight Punches are the most efficient ones as they call for straight line impact. Of course in a closer range straight punches become less effective as the distance needed to accelerate to generate sufficient impact force is declining.

While you can move your body back and forth to generate momentum for a circular strike, you must assume that your first motion caused enough distraction for you to buy time preparing for the finishing strike.

Practicing on the wooden dummy assumes striking to soft pressure points, and hitting the wood hardens your knuckles.

In boxing the tactics are too simplified to create a uniform training method and usually the athletes pick up the balance in their moves after long hours of training.

However, if you train someone intensively in efficient self defense training method, you need to break it down and put the parts back together in the correct exact balance.

If you are practicing on a speed bag, you develop your hand eye coordination. You could try and kick the speed bag as well.  One of the major element of success in this drill is timing.  But in this case it can be compared to being in the hotzone.  The speed bag will bounce with expected rhythm of repeated attacks.  A real opponent will not!

While you learn the theory and application of a perfect punch or a kick, many times less than perfect punches can be used as starters for distraction until you gain the time for the finishing punch or kick. I can't help it but it reminds me the traditional jab!

You can get faster control of a situation using your upper body in the short range. If your opponent attempts in the punching range, you will be faster in punching him than attempting to block his kick.

If your kick was not executed in the optimal conditions you need to retract your leg fast, and retract your body and use another kick or shift gears to attacking with your hands…

Executing weak strikes might buy few split seconds to prepare for a better strike. However, a trained opponent might use that time to strike back harder. That means that if your strikes do not have enough force or direct baffling effects on the opponent’s vision they will hardy stop a trained opponent's direct attack or well executed defense and counter attack.

You can spend your time on last second possible reaction by dropping your head to the sides or down or using your hand or forearm to block and possibly your elbow as instinctive defense. 

From the greater range you have enough time to lunge to the side executing a circular kick or simply shift your weight to lift one leg and kick with it before the opponent closed the gap. 

Bobbing and weaving is a the generation of evasive upper torso maneuvers using gravity. To generate a whole torso motion to just get the head off the way of a punch requires a greater propulsion force than it is from just attempting to move the head or deflect with the palm.   When your training and fighting is unlimited to just hand strikes from the front and sides of the opponent you would not want to bob and weave.  You will not even find it a common practice in Muay Thai fights, and definitely not in Pure Krav Maga!

That motion tends to pull the body away and too far and thus delay the counter attack. If counter attack is delayed it opens you up for a follow up blow or grappling tactics. However, that propulsion force could be used to generate impact if the move for the counter attack occurs immediately. So pay attention in your drilling and make a distinction between how far you can bob or weave, and how fast you can counter attack without interruption.

Obviously if you spar with someone that is motivated like you to hurt the other and not to get hurt, it appears to be the optimal method. However, in reality when you spar, you are not considering hitting full strength some of the pressure points of your training partner to the point that he would be in danger of having a brain bleeding, a windpipe tear, or a strike that will cause him to fall on his face if you hit him in the back of the neck as he is bending down in motion.

So you need to find your limits, and work with them by devising respective training methods. Therefore sparring only serves as one out of few training methods.

After becoming proficient with optimal scenarios where you timely react to a strike, or you attempt to kick and strike and timely react to a counter attack in the optimal manner, you need to consider the unfavorable scenarios, where for some reason the attack or defense was not optimal however the counter attack or defense with counter attack was not optimal as well.

In other words if you made a mistake but your opponent followed making a mistake as well and therefore still giving you a chance to continue and prevail.

However it is very important that you do not mix and should be fully aware of why you are doing each training routine for. If you are not, then you might be training yourself to constantly make mistakes giving your opponent greater opportunity.

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