Saturday, October 29, 2011

Anticipation Vs Reaction

We’ve had this discussion at karate a few times, usually during randori.  That’s where one person stands in the middle of a group and is attacked by the people forming the ring around them, the person in the middle must defend themselves by blocking or redirecting the attack and then taking the opponent to the ground.  What happens quit often is that people begin to guess what is to come new and have a pre-set response in their head to use when the attack comes.  Rarely does that turn out as planned, mostly because the attack that is being anticipated is not the one that comes and the grand idea you had does no good.

It is then at karate that I bring up this little story.  When I was a teenager I played a lot of floor hockey, I was the goalie then.  The type of goalie that got picked first in gym because I was usually that good.  That skill came from practice.  My dad and I watched hockey a couple times a week on TV and during the 15 minute intermission we’d go down to our mostly empty basement where my dad had made a 4’x6’ (regulation size) hockey net out of some wood and a tarp, I’d strap on a couple road hockey pads, one regular hockey glove as a blocker and my baseball glove on the other hand.  He’d start out about 15 or 20 feet away and shoot tennis balls at me, trying to score.

It was challenging and fun and most of the time I’d stop him, eventually though a few would get through and I’d get frustrated and begin to go down early, or move before he’d even really shot the ball.  One night he asked me what I was doing.  I said “I’m guessing where you’re going to shoot”.  We had a short discussion about the flaws in that, and once I was back to reacting to the shot I would stop many more shots than when I was guessing.

As an adult this idea comes in handy fairly often, not just at karate or playing as a goalie now (though that is what brought it to mind), but because how you react to things and when you react can make a great impact on your day to day life.  Anticipation is important, you need to be able to see things developing in front of you and prepare, but when the time comes reacting appropriately is essential.

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