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How Can Reflex Response
Save Your Life?


Dear Friend,


Iíve often said that one of Arnisís greatest benefits is its ability to build a reflex response quickly.  What is a reflex response and why is it important?


Letís take a step back in history to help us understand this idea.  In sword, it is well understood that victory usually goes to the person that strikes first.  The reason for this is that the attacker knows what he is doing and is mentally behind the attack he is launching.  A defender must recognize an attack, focus on it, and shift a weapon into a defensive position, all while the attacker is already in motion.  The defender in other words must respond to an action that is already occurring and must ďcatch upĒ to the attack.  Thatís a dangerous area to be.  A lot of things have to go right for a successful defense.  Since so much more must go on in defense, it is much easier to be the person doing the first attack and results in much higher levels of success than defense.

With a bladed weapon, a successful sword blow was often fatal, so there is not a lot of surviving mistakes.  If we take the first strike advantage to the modern era of firearms, the advantage is even greater.  Since a bullet can not be blocked, shooting first gives the attacker a good possibility of instantly eliminating his opponents strike ability.  The first attack advantage is obvious when dealing with such high levels of force.


Since the defense must occur so quickly to stop an attack, it must occur reflexively and without thought, like the twitch of your knee when the doctor hits it with a hammer.  That is the reflex response.  Arnis drills are dominated by conditioning that reflex response.  Arnis does it very well, and a useable response emerges after about three months with a skilled trainer.  The question is, if the advantage goes to the person that attacks first, why would so much emphasis be placed on the reflex response?  Shouldnít you concentrate on delivering first strike?  Thatís a good question.  There are 3 reasons:


First strike is very effective if the blow that is landed can immobilize or kill a person with that blow alone.


First strike emphasis assumes that a match will not go on for very long because people are eliminated very quickly.  If the match goes past one or two blows, the person with better reflex response will dominate.


Most self-defense situations are modeled by the attacker using surprise and first strike.  It becomes necessary then to have a good reflex response to counter the attackerís first strike in those self-defense situations.


Certainly, the techniques of Arnis could be used in first strike, but most of the man hours put into training are put into reflex response.  This gives you a life-saving reflex that can stop that surprise blow, even before your mind has consciously processed it.


Warm Regards,


Guro Mike Steenrod


P.S.  If you need instruction on the basics of Arnis and safe practice, check out my 99 Cent Guide.