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The "mirror and reflection strategy" in combat

How to crack a fighter's fighting style code with the mirror and reflection strategy

Mastering this strategy is a must-have resource for becoming a creative and generative fighter (a third-generation fighter) or improving yourself in combat. The website from which this blog originated,, was inspired by this mission.

The mirror and reflection strategy is at the heart of kinesthetic and somatic modeling to incorporate a technique, tactic, strategy, etc., into our neurology.

The mirroring and reflecting strategy is a small part of the modeling process. Modelisation consists in discovering how an expert does what he or she does to excel in a particular domain and how a model can be created to replicate his or her skills. But we can detach the strategy of mirror and reflection from the modeling process and use it on its own. It's a powerful strategy, especially not to be taken lightly.

What is the mirror and reflection strategy?

The "mirror" part of this strategy is a process that is done from the outside to the inside

It consists in replicating the fighting style of your partner or opponent from the outside in. First, in the "mirror" part, you study how your opponent fights. You must not only know it with your cognitive mind, but you must also feel it in your somatic center as you internalize his actions and physiology.

You use this modeling strategy extensively if you practice martial arts, combat sports or any other discipline. Your model is your sensei or coach, who makes you repeat and rehearse movements along with him.

You learn to model his technique, to repeat it until it is somatized and programmed into your neurology.

Similarly, in the mirror part, you "copy" your opponent's fighting style by observing and then feeling it in your own body. We are not only "hacking" his techniques, we also hack his breathing rhythm, his posture, the position of his head and limbs, his level of tension, strength, speed, timing, rhythm, tempo, reaction time, gestures, movements, attitude, tactics, strategies, etc.

When you start using this strategy, don't try to imitate all the above parameters, choose a few that are most obvious to you. The more you master this strategy, the more elements you will add. Especially if you are modeling a great champion in your discipline.

The "reflection" part is an inside-out process

After internalizing the first part of the strategy (in your neurology), you move to reflection. You reflect on what you have somatized by faithfully reproducing it on the battlefield (the relational field) through your actions. You use the same kind of techniques, tactics, strategies as your subject. You move at the same speed, strength, rhythm, tempo, etc.

This can be done immediately in the fight, or it can be replicated through training in shadow-boxing, heavy bags, punching pads, punching mitts, working with another partner, etc.

If you really want to take it to the next level, you can take on the identity of the fighter you mirror. You imagine that you are a double, a clone, his shadow, a perfect replication of himself. You identify yourself completely with him. Imagine that you are playing his role as an actor. The deep identification process is another part of modeling, but we will not cover this very advanced part in this blog.

Who can use this strategy?

- Anyone who wants to improve their fighting or sports skills.

- Instructors and Sensei who want to ameliorate the fighting styles of their teams.

- Anyone who is interested in becoming a creative and generative warrior.

But this strategy is mostly reserved for brown and black belts. You must be fluent in your fighting techniques and tactics (the first two generations of fighting) to understand this strategy and get it down into your muscles.

What are the benefits of using the mirror and reflection strategy?

- This strategy helps to bring knowledge down from the top (the head, the cognitive) to the bottom (the belly, the body: the somatic). From the mind to the cells. From the head to the muscles.

- This allows you to better synchronize and desynchronize with your partner.

- It is an excellent process to develop your observation skills and sensory acuity.

- When your trainer asks you to memorize a technique and tactics, you will be able to reproduce them more efficiently and integrate them more quickly into your fighting style.

- If you are lucky enough to train with a top fighter in your field, and you would like to acquire parts of their fighting style, you will have the tools.

- To insert an impressive number of different fighting styles into your physiology and your internal database. This way, your body will know how to adapt to many fighting styles from the first two generations of fighters.

- Since you are replicating the skill and knowledge of the person, you are creating a very powerful bond with your partner's unconscious. This will have a profound effect on your relational field.

When should you use the mirroring and reflecting strategy?

Use this strategy during free sparring practice in your training hall. Start slowly and work your way up. When you master this strategy, you can include it in your strategy bag for more intense fights.

- During sparring sessions when you do not have a specific directive from your coach.

- When you invite a partner to fight privately with you.

- When you have the chance to fight with a top fighter in a non-competitive situation.

The mirror and reflection strategy is a powerful resource for the future

Applying the "mirror and reflection strategy" with your sparring partners not only allows you to discover their fighting style in the present and counter it. This strategy is a great and powerful resource that allows you to integrate a lot of different fighting styles. You will be able to solve the fighting style of your partners and opponents creatively and generatively in an unconscious way in the future.

While everyone uses the first level of the mirror and reflection strategy, very few know how to use it creatively. Soon, in the second part of this article, you will discover how some applications of this strategy can be used in your fights.

Gaetan Sauve

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