The following scene from the movie Trinity Is STILL My Name! shows how internal self-restraints influence reaction times. Have a look at it. Trinity is played by Terence Hill. He had somehow cheated in the foregoing poker game. Wildcat Hendricks tries to teach him a lesson in a duel. You might have to look a few times, since “It’s hard to catch the first time”.
Link (from 8:30)
As usual, a tree diagram is a good start for compiling some facts. If you have ever wondered why you go to this effort, well, it helps keep all the available information together in some simple charts. This helps tremendously in detailed discussions. Otherwise, information is lost after some time due short-term memory limitations.
I have used another method for organizing the different events. Stretch the blocks according to the situation, so you can display the time lapse. Furthermore, parallel events within one movement are separated and put into a frame. The color indicates whether Wildcat Hendricks reaches his goal to kill Trinity. Obviously, he doesn’t.
Take some time and try to find all the red variants. Interesting fact; take a look at the unfolding alternatives. Trinity increases the duration with every variant. He plays with Wildcat and tests how far he can go. What do you think? Would you have recognized this without such a fine diagram? Furthermore, I have added the variant that Wildcat had in his mind (simple reaction Sanjuro). His goal of killing the guy that was mocking him and looking like a real gentleman while doing so changes his reaction times.
The following speed relationship chart allows further elaborations (see a first explanation of this chart here).The first variant always outclasses him. There are no patterns that give him a head start (Wildcat´s view). So, it would seem that Wildcat loses in the second and the third variant, just as in the video, right?
But wait, take another look at the tree diagram. His original plan involves a simple reaction. He could outclass Trinity in the third variant. Wildcat shifted his goals and that is his error. He is so blinded by his goal of being the proud noble gentleman dealing with a bum, that he overlooks the possibility of drawing right after Trinity´s first move. He does not even consider the option of drawing without waiting for Trinity. Watch him as he tries to grasp what is happening when Trinity is doing his feint in the third variant. His will to identify what is happening leads to his demise. Identifying and choosing a response leads to a choice reaction and therefore to a much longer reaction time.
Simple reaction changed to choice reaction
So Trinity´s prolongation of his movements in the third variant works, since Wildcat tries to identify what is happening, instead of sticking to his original plan. Using a simple reaction helps with the third variant. The second variant, in combination with a simple reaction could lead to a stalemate. Still, the unfolding alternatives are not terrific for Wildcat.
The only way to solve this would be by drawing first. In that case, Wildcat might outclass Trinity, but who knows? Maybe Trinity has a few more tricks up his sleeve…
In summary, it is always important to look at unfolding parallel alternatives. Furthermore, be careful with your internal goals. They will change the way you react. Being forced into an unknown situation often leads to an internal wish to understand what is happening. But, this means that you are trying to identify the unfolding events and choose a convenient reaction. This definitely leads to higher reaction times. Sticking to an original plan might be a better option. It’s even better when you are used to this kind of analysis and recognize traps like the foregoing scene.
An isolated evaluation of the alternatives doesn’t allow an estimation of response times. Internal goals and other boundary conditions will additionally increase these times. So, despite the need for a careful analysis of the ongoing events, you also have to take into account your own goals and intentions. This is a typical error when you try to test your own reaction times in training. You have everything set to react, the body tension is just right and your mindset longs for the trigger to start. But, are your intentions in a fight the same? Do you really wait for things to happen or do you also try to take the initiative? In the second case, your body is internally focused on the intended movement. You are concentrating on “your” movement and the unfolding of the projected events. Your response time can increase extremely if these don’t match the actual situation and you try to identify the events.