Be active, not reactive.
Like a dance, every fight has a leader and a follower. One person sets the pace while the other person reacts. Unlike a dance, in a fight you never want to be the follower.
If you let your opponent dictate the pace of the fight, you are forced to be reactive. If you’re being reactive, you’re always one step behind your opponent. While you are responding to your opponent’s last attack, they have moved on to the next one. The fight becomes a game of catch-up that you will eventually lose.
This is especially observable when a junior grappler fights a senior grappler. The senior grappler is usually able to keep the junior grappler on the defensive the entire time. This is because, through training and repetition, the senior grappler is able to make quicker on-the-fly decisions. In other words, the senior grappler dictates the pace.
How do you dictate the pace? There are two ways:
- Be impervious to your opponent’s attacks. After all, if your opponent cannot force you to react, he cannot dictate the pace. Generally, this means a massive size and strength advantage.
- Train with enough consistency that you can execute a gameplan without thinking. This is described by the mental model called form to leave form.
If you’re reading this, it’s safe to assume that the first method is not an option for you, so you should focus on #2.