Learning the difference between reaction and anticipation is a challenge for a beginner student. In the beginning, a student will often anticipate their opponent’s next move, often leading to bad outcomes. Over time, with guidance and experience, they will learn that reading and reacting is a better course of action than anticipating a move.

If you’re not able to view the video, click here.

For the purposes of this post, “anticipation” is what you think is coming your way. On the other hand, “reaction” is what you actually see.

In the above video, I advise that you let the game come to you and react accordingly. I demonstrate how I see Alex’s counter and re-counter him. To get to this stage requires considerable practice. It is important that you see what’s coming to you and react accordingly.

On the other hand, an anticipation is a form of over-reaction to what may be happening. “I just know what he’s going to do next!” Doing so is, ahem, ill-advised.

In another context, my wise wife once said to me “it is better to under-react than to over-react.” 

As Opus from Bloom County would say “Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat!” 

No one could have said it better than my wife! That is exactly the key to tapi tapi play.

Having a calm and clear mindset and letting the game come to you is absolutely essential to prevailing in an encounter. Anticipating or over-reacting will put you on the ash heap of history. 🙂

Having a clear mindset requires hours of practice and stress inoculation from an instructor. After hours of drilling and practice, one will begin to see the wisdom of just letting the game come to you instead of anticipating/over-reacting to every move. One will begin to see the angles of attack coming at you, seemingly in slow motion, and learning to react and counter accordingly.

This tapi tapi mindset carries over into real life situations as well and I’m not necessarily referring to self-defense situations. Personal and professional relationships come to mind. How one respond to events and situations is part of the picture as well. 

How many times have you seen the damage done by an over-reaction to a statement, an argument, or a confrontation? 

Over-reaction nearly ended in disaster for me once.

I was on the way to an LCBO (for those not living in Canada, a beer and wine store). I was cut off in traffic by a pickup truck. I reacted angrily, blaring the horn at the f—–g idiot. Having vented and feeling good about my righteousness, I proceeded to my planned destination.

As I was walking to the entrance of the LCBO, the pickup truck pulled up alongside me. A muscular bald headed dude with tattoos from the neck on down and covering both arms rolled down his window and asked me “did you fucking honk at me?” He had a Marvel Comic book body and there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that he was using steroids.

I immediately went into de-escalation mode and said, in a Joe Pesci-like voice, “who me? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Luckily, either he bought my answer or decided the matter wasn’t worth pursuing.

In hindsight, I should have under-reacted instead of reacting with righteous indignation. In doing so, I could have avoided what could have been a very unpleasant situation. It’s better to under-react than to over-react.

Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it. – Lou Holtz.

Whether it’s tapi tapi or real life situations, anticipation/over-reaction rarely ends well.

Better to have a calm mindset, read the situation and react accordingly.  

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One thought on “Reaction vs. Anticipation

  • August 9, 2016 at 7:50 pm
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    I love this article Brian! Of course we never want to overreact, but I think sometimes there is a place for fast, sudden, powerful reactions – say when you are in immediate danger for example. The trick would be to judge what kind of situation it is, and react (or ideally under-react, as you say!) accordingly . . . 🙂

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