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In fighting we describe the activity provoked by an opponent's offense as "reaction". For example in muay thai after we defend an opponent's combination and return a cross-hook-cross we have performed a reaction. In jiu-jitsu when an opponent tries to break and pass the guard, the change in hand position and posture that sets up an arm bar or triangle, could also be considered reaction. Reaction is typically trained as the "turn" we take after an opponent presents an offense. This has a very specific advantage in being low risk: defend first and once your opponent is punched out with their hands out of position initiate an offense of your own. Unfortunately it also has disadvantages, particularly how long the reaction takes (i.e. the time the neurological impulse travels from where it lands to your brain), the training of "taking turns", and letting your opponent to get off first. A good reaction should teach your opponent that, if you survive their onslaught, that they will be punished.

Thus it might be better to avoid their onslaught, by controlling the range and by evading, and then counter. That is, punishing them without them punishing you. This has the advantage of not getting hit and letting your strikes land in prime targets with greater impact but it takes more speed and experience to read an opponent. Using this strategy still allows your opponent to throw leather, but forces them to expend more energy throwing misses and allowing you to hit openings created by your opponent's offense.

The "good offense is the best defense" strategy of reaction is presumably the level above the evade and counter. As soon as your opponent encroaches into your territory with the intent of offense, start yours. You need to retain the ability to cover and react while using the ability to read the path of evasion to set up a pre-action. You become a motion detector, that alarms violently.

These strategies each demand more and more skill as well as time in conflict (i.e. timing and sparring). They also develop increasing strategic complexity. In the classic, simplest style of reaction there is little more strategy than absorbing and administering kinetic energy. As one develops the timing of fighting one could consider the second, evasion strategy, as a "pulling" technique, luring an opponent in offense and typically giving ground to set up counters. The pre-reaction is a "pushing" style, aggressively attacking the attack before it is fully conceived. In all these strategies are not exclusive, the simplest cover return will form a back bone upon which "pulling" and "pushing" strategies can be implemented.

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