T Nation

Actively Thinking vs Reacting


In fighting or even sparring, how many of you are actively thinking and strategically planning vs just reacting and doing so called "muscle memory"?

Personally I've been on the end of both extremes with varying results. There's been times where over-thinking has caused hesitation or hampered my reaction time, but there have been others where reading my opponent and thinking about his patterns has allowed me to react in a better way and catch him with a combination he wasn't expecting.

Likewise, I've also had good performances where I've been almost purely reactive and just attacking openings as I see them. But on that same end, I've also had bad performances where being purely reactive wasn't the best option. I think the best performances I've had in boxing where ones where I've struck a balance between being reactive and still thinking strategy in very brief moments.


I think quite a lot in sparring, I'll work on a lot of things in that 3 minute round. I think a big problem with fighters, especially younger fighters that I'll work with, is that they want to treat sparring like a fight. They let their ego get ahead of them and want to win something that's only a training tool and end up slowing down the learning process.

In fights I use what you already have mentioned; reacting while having brief thoughts. If you're not thinking at all during a fight it'll eventually put you at a disadvantage, you'll become repetitive and wont adapt to your opponent.


I think a lot more than I react. I only react when my partner spazzes.


In sparring I tend to think a lot,but its more kind of instinctive thinking,trying to read my opponent next move or try to set him up to react to my actions to I can capitalizeon any errors.A lot of times I experiment with different stuff to see if it works.


I agree with your last paragraph Aussie. I tend to find that I do best in sparring when I just let things flow, and in between combos I remind myself of things. Head movement, keep my hands high, work my angles, parry the jab, or throw a certain combo. I'll also take a few seconds to analyze my opponents movement, or his counters, or his offense. I do this to try and find holes in his striking if he's covering well and I'm having a tough time getting shots through. I feel you have to have a good balance, if you don't you run the risk of over thinking, or even worse... running on auto pilot.