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If you are not able to view this “telegraphing” video, please click here.

Telegraphing movements is a common error in the martial arts. What is “telegraphing”?  To me, telegraphing denotes extraneous or preparatory moves before the intended technique. In boxing or martial arts terms, this could mean “winding up” before punching. In poker terms, this is a “tell.” 🙂

The obvious problem with telegraphic moves is that this gives the opponent time to evade, slip, or counter the intended technique. A great example of this is Evander Holyfield’s knock out of James “Buster” Douglas in October 1990.

If you are not able to view this video, click here.

Holyfield’s camp had noticed that Buster Douglas tended to dip his body when throwing his uppercut. As a result, Holyfield was prepared for this and took advantage of it to devastating effect. See 0:29 of the above video. Check out the replays showing Douglas’ fatal error. Professional boxers often train to avoid telegraphing their punches. Some don’t always succeed in this regard.

So it is with Modern Arnis as I illustrated in my Fix-It Friday video. Telegraphing can occur with any technique in Modern Arnis. When it comes to playing or tapi tapi, one of the common beginner mistakes is the “wind up” before the # 7 thrust illustrated in my video. I look out for telegraphic tendencies in my students and try to nip them in the bud before it gets too ingrained.

Merely telling them that they are telegraphing isn’t going to help. Often, I will take the student through a technique sequence involving the problem in question. When I see the error, I counter them. On the other hand, when they execute the technique cleanly, they can see that my ability to counter narrows.

Seeing this drives home the importance of non-telegraphic technique, which in turns limits their opponent’s ability to evade, intercept or counter an attack.

Over to you, how have you dealt with this issue, either as a student or as an instructor? Let’s hear from you!

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