How to “react” faster with techniques

I’ve been asked “How do you make your ability to ”see & respond” to an opportunity for a technique FASTER?”

I like this question because it points out something that I believe is very overlooked by many grapplers… having “fast reactions.”  That’s often considered the domain of striking, but it’s not considered as much in grappling.

The key to REACTING with techniques, rather than just “doing” techniques, is that you must practice them AS A REACTION to some specific action of your opponent’s, rather than just performing reps of the move.

Think of what a boxer goes through to be able to “see” (and counter) an opponent’s attack with nearly instant reaction time. It will help if I explain the process that boxers go through so you can understand its equivalent in grappling. In boxing…

…a boxer doesn’t just throw punches on a heavy bag. He ALSO spends a ton of time REACTING with those punches to a training partners specific attacks.

For example…

Jab – counter with Technique A
Right cross – counter with Technique B
Left hook – counter with Technique C

He does 100’s of reps of each counter in response to his training partner’s respective attack to develop that “reaction without thought.“

After he’s developed that ONE single technique as a nearly sub-conscious counter, then his training partner mixes different attacks, throwing them at him while he learns to “see” the opportunities and simultaneously respond with the correct counter without thought.

This concept applied to grappling…

So, in grappling, you go through the same process. First, you break a position into all the likely moves your opponent could do from that position. For example:

The MAIN position:
You have Guard

Sub-positions of the Guard:
Opp puts his hands to your throat to choke
Opp puts his hands on you biceps to pin your arms
Opp puts his forearm to your throat to choke
Opp posts his hands on your chest to pass guard

Next, you find an appropriate technique to each of those sub-positions. Then, you do 100’s of reps of each technique in response to your training partner putting that sub-position on you (to build the reaction without thought).

Finally, your training partner mixes up the various positions while you learn to “see” the opportunity, letting the reaction come out without thought.

BIG HINT: Probably the biggest reason grapplers DON’T train this way is that it’s much harder and more time-consuming to do 100’s of reps of, let’s say, “armbar from the guard” as a counter… than it is to do 100’s of right crosses as a counter. Here’s my suggestion… learn to “visualize” some your reps of techniques rather than physically performing all of them. More reps, less time.

If you’ve never trained like this before, you’ll be very surprised at how quickly you see results, and your training partners will notice a significant difference in how fast you’re “hitting” your moves.