There is a vital element to the effectiveness of Kempo techniques. Wait for the last possible moment (LPM) — and maximum committal of the enemy– to begin your counterattack. Once they fully commit to the attack, they’ll be unable to adjust to (or counter) your counterattack.
LPM provides time to build a better defense. The distance between the initiation of the attack and the LPM forces the enemy to “show their hand”. Once they attack, that attack has inherent weaknesses, which can be exploited for the counterattack.
But how do I apply this to combat? You must have composure under pressure; the confidence to stand still while someone is aggressively attacking you. Of course, you don’t play target board forever. You must have the ability to know when is the right time to move. This is only gained through practice.
How to Practice
The best way to practice this concept is with Kempo waza. Which ever Kempo technique you’d like to practice, or need to practice, begin in a relaxed posture. Be sure the uke is out of range forcing him to close the distance in order to make contact. Allow the uke to initiate the attack with any strike they wish. Wait until you must begin the counter.
When you first start this type of practice, remember to start slowly. You need to ingrain the proper form before you allow speed to be a factor. Repeat the same attack three or four times in order to build a comfort level with that attack. Alternate sides and partners so each side and each person develops equally.
In a Nut Shell
You want to exploit the over commitment of the attacker, allowing him to “telegraph” their intentions. Additionally, you want to reduce your commitment time and hide your combative intentions. The LPM is one of the devices Kempo players use to maximize their martial results. Of course, once you engage the enemy, you don’t give quarter or relent until they are no longer a threat. Know when that condition is met.