Developing Vision for the Fight
Have you ever been sparring, training slipping, defense’s verse punches and kicks and it seems like attacks are coming from everywhere? Like you have no time to react. Have you had trouble identifying and blocking these attacks? It’s like there is his hand, oh crap now it’s in my face! Well you are probably not using your vision to its true ability. You are probably more focused on the result of the attack or on a specific hand verse using your vision to properly assess which attack is coming. So let’s discuss how to make it better.
Learning to Use your vision
One of the most important skills to develop for fighting is your vision for the fight. Learning to use your vision will increase your ability to recognize threats faster. Because of this it will allow you to respond with the most preferred response by harnessing your brains instinctive reaction. Developing this ability will add time and speed to your defense’s. Have you ever seen something coming flying at you out of the corner of your eye and instinctively blocked it or knocked it down without thought? You did this using your peripheral vision. Peripheral vision is faster than direct vision as it reacts to the change of light and contrast of the object to the background. Vision focused on the object itself is slower because you are looking at only the object and have no contrast to it to see which direction or how fast it is moving.
So how do I develop my peripheral vision?
There are several components of training your vision for success. We are going to focus on:
- Where to look on your attacker
- Contrasting the threat against the background
- Motion recognition
- Seeing the whole picture
- Proper range to allow your vision to work best for you
Where to look on your Attacker
There are differing theories for this actual part of vision for the fight. Some say to look into the eyes. Some say stare at the chest. What we find works best is to look through center mass. Center mass is the area right around the solar plexus. As a result, this allows me to see all possible threats from the hands or legs simultaneously without having to move my eyes.
Contrasting the threat against the background
The key here is to look through the body. I want to see how the body moves against the background. This allows my subconscious to react to the change in the picture faster harnessing my instinctive reaction to a possible threat. While doing this my attacker is a little fuzzy. They should not be in sharp focus. Remember we are looking for contrast to the background to identify the origination of the threat.
Remember we want to see the initial motion of the attack so we have as much time as possible to defend the threat. By comparing the threat to the background we can tell which side of the body is coming toward us and which height the action is coming from (a punch or kick). Because of this we are able to harness our natural reaction to the threat making us faster to respond. I want to be able to identify the starting motion of the attack. The hip and shoulder coming toward me. This allows me to identify the side of the attack. Then if the top or bottom is getting closer tells me if it is a punch or kick.
Seeing the whole picture
With our eyes trained through center mass, we see all that is in our full vision for the fight. Any movement within the picture will grab the attention of our brain. As a result, our heightened state of awareness due to a threat can be harnessed to defend us. You must not think ahead that the person is going to punch or kick. If you do you will block your brains ability to react instinctively to the motion. Because of this you will slow down your ability to defend appropriately. When you see the whole picture in front of you, it is easier to see what is coming toward you and from what location in the picture. As a result, your brain will react to the threat zone quickly.
Proper range to allow your vision to work best for you
In order for you to use the full potential of your vision for the fight you must maintain the proper range. You do this by always positioning yourself out of the attacker’s longest threat to you. Without weapons this is usually the legs. You want to be 1” out of the attacker’s range. This means the attacker will have to move forward no matter what to strike you. Because of this you have a much larger object moving against the background to indicate when you need to react. You do not want to be much further than this as you are also giving the same advantage to your attacker to see your attacks or counter attacks coming.
Work on each of these components one at a time. Then start combining them and you will SEE the improvement. See you on the mats.