Each technique has a series of common and predictable reactions.
Think of the massive advantage you’d have if you knew what your opponent was going to do before it happened. You’d be able to react instantaneously. In the context of martial arts, that’s like having a superpower. The good news is, it’s possible through predictable responses.
By attempting a technique or tactic on your opponent, you’re encouraging a predictable response. Technically, there are infinite possibilities for what could happen during sparring. However, taking certain actions greatly increases the likelihood of your opponent reacting in a predictable fashion.
There are two categories of predictable responses: physiological responses and trained responses.
A physiological response is something that is programmed into us at a biological level. We’re often not even conscious of these things happening, which is part of what makes them so easy to exploit.
For example, if I push you, you’ll likely brace yourself and push back into me. This push-pull reaction is an important dynamic in stand-up grappling and creating kuzushi.
A trained response is something that we’ve programmed into ourselves through practice and repetition.
For example, if you’ve been training for some time you know that if I try to triangle you from my guard, you should posture up straight to defend it. There’s no physiological reason why your body would know to do this, but through training we create instincts like this.