illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)
To "respond appropriately" is not about one's speed of reaction, after one has assessed the situation…
The appropriate response cannot spring out of an inappropriate set of circumstances… "Causality for beginners."
However, if you're in the right place at the right time, there's then no need to rush an answer: there's no delay to 'compensate', no distance to 'cross', you're already there!
And the only way to do so is to be engaged: be there already!
You create distance and difficulties by taking the 'safe' stance « I'll assess the situation, then respond. »
The proper intention to cultivate is « I'll respond! »
No excuse, no distance, no buffer, no possibility to say the self-serving « I didn't engage because I didn't know enough » (self-serving because this really means « I didn't engage because I didn't feel comfortable, didn't feel safe enough in my understanding »), no opportunity to rewind and replay what failed (not even scenarios in one's head, until a satisfactory scenario is found)! Numberless people regret an opportunity they didn't seize, that they let slip away solely because they didn't know enough, weren't sure enough…
« I'll do my best! » (gplus.wallez.name/Tnx1pJdhsvv), no matter what the situation is. And your 'best' includes 'adapting' to whatever feedback reality gives you, but does not include hoping for the feedback to come first ("causality for beginners")!
« I'll respond » with generosity, high standards, humility and patience, energy and perseverance, fully present and in accordance to what the situation requires, in accordance to the available information, to the available wisdom. « I'll respond » because you listen (gplus.wallez.name/64vMXWdHx2R), not after you listen.
To parry the blow, you only need to be in the right place at the right time. Be in your head and your head will be cut off: the reality-check doesn't accept any excuse (any misconception, inappropriate mental fabrication or view creates suffering)! But don't confuse being on time with rushing, with being blind and deaf and so preoccupied by the time ticking away that you don't even see where you should be, let alone when.
Listen and engage!
Chiyonokuni vs Takanoyama - Part 2 (30'')
photo: unattributed [2011 European Fencing Championships, men's foil semi-final: Baldini (Italy, left) versus Cassara (Italy, right, parrying)]