I want to improve my perception and reaction time to help me respond to incoming attacks more quickly. What techniques can I use to improve perception and reaction time?

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    Are you looking for techniques in a particular style (e.g. karate, taekwondo, boxing)? What have you tried, so far? What research have you done already? Do you have any experience of martial arts? Are there any limitations (e.g. physical or financial) we should take in to account?
    – Mike P
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 14:38
  • No physical limitations ,i just wanted to get a technique to improve my reaction speed and rate of hit,i would be happy if u can provide with any Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 14:43
  • Most martial arts aim to reduce reliance on reaction time either by maintaining a large enough distance that attacks can be read (karate, aikido and so on) or by staying in constant contact with the opponent so you can feel what they do (wing chun, judo and the like). Some use a combination of the two. (SPEAR/PDR self defence). Reactions are unreliable, good stances, technique and strategy is less so.
    – Huw Evans
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 15:12
  • I talk a lot about reaction time in the answer here: martialarts.stackexchange.com/a/6501/1555 Part of the equation is "guessing" what your opponent will do next, based on body language tells. Your brain has to be programmed to recognize this. Reaction times alone won't save you, though it is a good question. No doubt there are ways of improving reaction times beyond recognizing patterns. But the two are so interrelated that you can't ignore either. Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 15:52

2 Answers 2


TL;DR the best way for you to improve your perception and reaction time is to train and spar with opponents at a school or club, under the guidance of an experienced coach or instructor.

Get hit!

Seriously, nothing sharpens your perception quite like getting hit.As has been pointed out in the comments, my answer may seem like I'm saying "go out and get hurt". This is absolutely not what I mean! In a class, you will learn to spar and fight in a controlled environment.

Now, I'm not suggesting you go out on the street looking for someone to attack - that way leads to the dark side, padawan! What you really need to do is find a school/club/gym that offers some fight or martial art training; once you've found such a place, join up and start training as often as practical.

Learning to spar and fight in a controlled environment is the key point of my original answer. In taekwondo, we have various different types of sparring that allow us to increase the realism without compromising safety; at the highest level (in class), free sparring, with safety kit, allows us to approximate a real fight (with the stress and adrenaline that goes with it) without serious harm.

At first, you'll get hit a lot. It will be demoralising and painful, but it will start to help. You'll also need to listen to comments, hints and tips from your opponents and coaches/instructors.

Improving your perception and reaction time for fighting is something that can only really be improved by repeatedly sparring with real opponents; I don't know of any drills you can do on your own.

It will take time and it may feel like you're not getting any better, even after several months of training - remember that the people you're training with will also be getting better, making it harder to see your own improvement. Again, listen to your coach and training partners; they will be able to tell you if you're improving.

Finally, Sardathrion commented that you could set a beep to sound at a random interval, hitting a bag when you hear the beep. This is true and will help somewhat, but it is no substitute for actually sparring with someone; it will not help you learn how to read an opponent for an incoming strike and it won't help you experience how you react when you feel threatened or under pressure.

  • Thanks for answer but is there any,i meant technique to do self improve because i am studying and i would not be able to devote that much time that too in india so i just wanted a lookover process if there then give Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 14:59
  • Like I said, I don't know of any drills you can do on your own. Most of the drills I know require another person to train with. You can't learn to fight effectively without having someone to fight! (There are other questions about self-training on this site that will put the same point).
    – Mike P
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 15:04
  • This sounds dangerous and counterproductive.
    – Huw Evans
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 15:13
  • @HuwEvans can you expand on that, please?
    – Mike P
    Commented Feb 9, 2017 at 15:20
  • I edited your answer to make it flow a little better. Let me know if I erred and trashed some of your meaning. Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 9:19

One thing you can do that very directly targets improved reactions is find a partner to practice with, and take turns with one of you trying to deliver fast, untelegraphed strikes - stopping just in front of the defender, or with protective gear to allow contact without injury - while the other side starts from a generic sparring stance and attempts to consistently dodge, deflect or block the attacks. Start with something simple like a jab blocked with the palm of the defenders front hand - defending just needs a twist of the forearm - and eventually increase the number of allowed attacks and targets (e.g. jab, reverse punch, front kick or low kick). If the attackers finds it way too easy, get them to stand back and have to close distance more during the attack. The defender can challenge themself further by trying to deliver a nice counterattack simultaneous with or extremely soon after defending, which the original attacker might or might not try to defend against.

I'm not sure if it's a current concern of yours, but another aspect of perception is peripheral vision - you should find the above can aid development of peripheral awareness once you start mixing techniques like low and high attacks.

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