Rhythm and self defence banner


Rhythm is something that most people would associate with music and dance, but not with martial artsor self defence. Well rhythm is something that fits in well with self defence, as if you look at arts such as capoeira it can easily be mistaken for a type of street dance. Even looking at a near perfectly executed kata you can see the rhythm and timing involved.

Let us start by looking at a natural type of rhythm our brain waves and thought patterns. As humans before we execute a movement or technique our brain forms a pattern or a visual picture as to the outcome of the movement, so for example if I am planning to open a door I plan the beginning inserting the key into the lock, secondly turning the key and finally pushing the door open. What happens if the key gets stuck or I put in the wrong key? My brain does not know how to manage that instead it pauses for a millisecond and I check the key and insert the correct one to open the door. Well in a combat situation this is exactly what happens. We are going to look at this from the perspective of both sport and self-defence.

In the context of sport, we go into a tournament bout having possibly studied our opponent and knowing their go to or favoured techniques we design a plan to counter these. This is the case for us and the opponent. Well if it is that simple how is it that there is a winner and looser you ask? Well when one person becomes creative i.e., they lull the person into a false sense of security through conditioning, fakes and other means. This then in turn allows them to pre-empt their opponent’s rhythm and disrupt it. This allows and opening to be created so the they can score a pint in terms of points fighting or to land that knockout blow.

Another use of rhythm in sport fighting, particularly points type sparring. Bouncing forwards and backwards in a set rhythm can condition your opponent into a way of reading your timing, but what if you vary that pattern randomly, so bounce forwards and backwards for 3 seconds and then vary the pace or switch your stance. Disrupt that thought process to give you an added advantage.

In the context of self defence this is applicable again as the attacker has a plan. He or she has a visual idea that they will instigate the situation/attack and take advantage and then escape once they have achieved their objective. What If their opening attack is blocked or countered? Then what happens next? Their thought pattern or rhythm has been disrupted for a millisecond before they resort to default setting which may be to strike like mad or other things, so you have that very small window of opportunity to mount your counter and place the attacker on the back foot.

Another method of disrupting an attackers rhythm is by crashing the system. So if you hit someone in the head this will cause the brain to shake and this will momentarily disrupt their thought pattern. With this you can gain a small opening to allow you to mount a further counter attack, to restrain or even escape as necessary. So by disrupting your opponents rhythm you can begin to ensure that your rhythm becomes more dominant and you can either diffuse the situation or remove yourself effectively.


In conclusion Pattern and rhythm are two particularly important factors in both sport and self-defence. Always look for opportunities to disrupt the thought pattern to allow you to turn the tables on the attacker and to escape safely or in terms of sport win the point or bout.