A superior fighter relies on much more than the mere physical. Fighters can be classified into two different categories; the intellectual fighter, and the instinctual fighter.
One who operates on instinct can be very effective. Some of the greatest fighters have been instinctual. Those types of fighters subconsciously fight with great efficiency. These people rely on feel to guide their motions. When attacked they automatically respond with the appropriate response. When attacking, their timing fits the situation without thought. Their disadvantage is that they seldom realize why they win. An instinctual fighter rarely makes changes in their tactics. Their skill will get better with continual practice, but they lack the insight to better their strategy.
The intellectual, or smart, fighter analyzes situations and chooses the appropriate response. They learn from mistakes and correct bad habits. Using their intelligence brings on more options and leads to more versatility. Timing, distance, etc, are used to set up an opponent for attack. The disadvantage the smart fighter may have is that they over analyze. Thought takes time, which is something that you do not have a great amount of in a fight. Too much thought makes for slow reactions.
A skilled fighter should strive to find a balance between the two. The Yin and Yang, if you will, becomes apparent. Too much thought isn’t good, while only instinct isn’t good either. With a well thought out technique, it can become instinct with enough practice. The insight must come automatically in a confrontation. The thought should take place before hand or very quickly.
To train ones insight, it is important to pay attention to the feel. One should utilize the senses to stimulate reaction. The proper distance, for instance, is sensed not seen. With experimentation in practice, one should hit from many distances to get the right feel. With repetition, that attack can be thrown with speed, power, and accuracy purely by second nature. Timing again is something that must be honed to be pure reaction. In practice, attacks should be thrown in many different rhythms to break up the timing. These movements of broken rhythm should flow effortlessly with no predetermination.
During a fight, some insight should take the form of conscious thought. Every opponent fights differently. Many of these differences can only be noticed during the altercation. If they are rhythmic and mechanical, one must consciously take advantage of that by breaking their patterns. If they telegraph their intent in any way, it must be taken note of, to intercept their motion. They may put more weight on one leg than the other or, step before they hit, which again can be used to set them up. There are countless numbers of idiosyncrasies that may have great relevance to ones strategy. All conscious awareness must be processed quickly as to not waste opportunities. The best way to improve in this area is to spar many different foes and experiment with different strategies. During each session, the insight should be focused on learning and not winning. When winning or losing are a concern, all chances for learning are lost. The only way to win is not to lose, but the only way to learn is not to care.