How to Improve Reflexes for Fighting

If you are interested in fighting, one of the key aspects is your reflexes. If you do not have quick reflexes you will be slower in all the moves and techniques that you would like to learn. How do you improve your reflexes to improve your fighting skills? You need to train your muscles to be relaxed when punching and then contract at the exact moment you make contact on the target.

I know that sounds way too hard to learn.

I was able to do it with training but you need to do what we tell you below to start seeing results. There are also some other training you can do to speed up reflexes.

Fighting is all about knowing what to do next. It is a fast-paced where reflexes really come in handy. Quick reflexes really improve your fighting skills, therefore it is important to work on them as well. Just like any sport or hobby, you have to practice and focus on the little things and in this case, the “little things” are your reflexes. Having quick reflexes forms a good base for fighting and learning martial art techniques.

You can’t expect to excel in fighting if you do not train yourself to improve your muscle memory thus increasing your reflex response. Don’t worry there are many simple ways that you can do this. You can work on your reflexes anywhere with no need for a partner. Every little bit of training and preparation helps. Here are some good ways to improve your reflexes specifically for fighting.

What is a Reflex?

Before you start fighting and preparing to fight, it important to understand what a reflex actually is. It is basically any reaction. If you touch something hot, whether you scream or jump, that is a reflex. Some other examples of reflexes could be punching, flinching, panicking, etc.

Now, the reflexes that you have now are just normal reflexes but what you want to work on when it comes to fighting is called your trained reflexes. These include defensive moves and counter moves. You want your fighting reflexes to occur just as smoothly and quickly as the reflexes that are already accustomed to your body like pulling away when you touch something hot.

If you can practice enough your body will start automatically having certain reflexes during certain fights and techniques. In order to fully prepare yourself with the correct and most useful reflexes, you need to make sure you are prepared for what is coming. You cannot simply focus on your reaction (reflex) you must also practice reacting to something that is actually happening.

You want to practice reacting after the stimuli occur or you will never be prepared. Simply practicing a reaction over and over will do nothing when someone actually throws a punch. If you want to create a reflex to come after someone throws a punch, every time you practice it, someone should throw a punch at you first.

This is the only way for your brain to understand that the reaction(reflex) is related to getting a punch thrown at you. The secret to good reflex training for fighting is to focus not simply on the reaction but also the stimuli.


If you are a beginner, sparring is training in real-life situations. It can involve striking and grappling between two or more people. It is a technique but if done at a slower pace it can be a warm-up to help improve your reflexes.

Practicing slow sparring is said to speed up you are fighting skills. When you practice it slowly, it gives you the time to think of new responses which in the end helps your reflexes. Obviously, you should still practice sparring at a realistic pace, but don’t forget to practice slowly to allow your mind to memorize and create the reflexes best for fighting.

Slow sparring also allows you to pay close attention to the senses of your opponent. Fighting and reflexes are all about preparing for what is coming next and paying attention to how your opponent moves and reacts.

Simply noticing something small about your partner can help you win in the end. You can pay attention to where their power is coming from and where their strengths and weaknesses are when sparring.

They may telegraph a punch or kick so this warns you what is coming before it happens. Many fighters will look for an opponent to telegraph what they are doing. Maybe they drop their shoulder before a punch. Knowing your opponent’s tendencies can give you the advantage in a fight because your reflexes react just a tiny bit quicker because you know what technique is coming.

You want to be able to sense what is coming next. The best fighters win because they are prepared for what is coming next by either studying their opponent or finding something they telegraph. Real fighters don’t need to think during a fight, what they are doing is coming naturally because of all the time and preparation they had put it physically and mentally to prepare. They don’t have to think about what comes next, their body just moves the way it should because of their reflexes.

Focus Mitt Training

Focus mitt training where a partner will hold up the mitts and call out punches and while you punch they will throw random punches at you. This will keep your body aware that a punch could come at any time. Doing this increases punch defense reflex skills.

Another thing you can do is at full blast punch for a few minutes until you are completely tired. If you do this, you are helping yourself to improve your reflexes.

You can also work on slipping punches. You throw punches then slip counter punches from your partner. You keep doing these drills you get faster and then you are not thinking of what you are doing you just react. This is what you want to do throw a punch combo without thinking.

You want to create natural responses or habits to what you are experiencing so that your brain treats these as natural reflexes that you can use when you are actually fighting. You want to train your brain and body to be a fighter not just go through the motions.

Punching Bag

This will not be as effective as having a partner who would actually be able to throw punches and give you knew situations to encounter, but it is still very good for working on your reflexes.

Using a punching bag means that you still have to respond and react to a moving target even if that target isn’t a person. Doing this once a day or at least a few times a week can really improve your reflexes because you still have to be alert and aware while throwing punches. When training we always tried to make everything we do seem like it was real. You want it to seem like we were really in a fight so we slip, duck, throw a punch, dodge, weave, throw a kick then a punch and so on.

Having a heavy bag doesn’t really matter in the end because as long as you can get your form, technique, plus simulating a real fight that training will ingrain in your muscle memory to make your reflexes quicker. Look into investing in a double end bag because it will help your reflexes in the end.

Thinking too much on next fight move

The main concept of working on your reflexes when it comes to fighting is that you want to actually create new natural reflexes for your body. If you spend too much time thinking during an actual fight, you will give your partner just enough time to beat you.

Think during practice so that your body naturally knows what to do when it comes down to it. You don’t have to think about shivering when it is cold or jumping when a car horn beep. This is exactly how you want your body to eventually react when someone throws a punch.

The best fighters do not even have to think about what they are doing. Overthinking is the best way to lose in a fight. This is different from other sports and hobbies because you have to actually program new reflexes into your body. Let your body do the work that you have been preparing for mentally and physically when you are actually fighting. Don’t stress because your body will do the work for you as long as you prepared enough. Your mind can do wonderful things, and this is one of them.


Overall there are many things that you can do to work on your reflexes for fighting. Whether you are at home, with a partner, or with an instructor, you can always help your mind and body learn new and useful reflexes for fighting. If you don’t have a partner you can always practice with on a punching bag or double-end striking bag, but if you don’t have a punching bag you can always shadow box.

No matter what there is always an opportunity to enhance your reflexes and fighting skills. Every little bit of practice helps in the end. It is also mainly important that you do not spend too much time thinking while fighting. The entire point of building new reflexes is so that when you are fighting your mind and body already automatically know what to do when put into a certain situation. It sounds weird to tell you to not spend time thinking when there are so many different techniques associated with fighting, but it has been proven that the best fighters are naturally fighting not to think about what move comes up next. So don’t forget how much your reflexes matter when it comes to fighting.

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