The word tempo refers to the amount of time it takes to perform an action or the amount of time you spend not doing anything at all. There’s no fixed length for tempo, the concept is based entirely around what you’re trying to do. Capoferro says, “it doesn’t matter whether I arrived there early or late, provided that I reach the desired place.” In this sense the word tempo is really interchangeable with the word action.
While the first the definition is somewhat abstract, Capoferro also uses the term as a measurement of time. With this definition there is the concept of a short tempo versus a long tempo. He says attacks from the narrowest measure that do not require moving the foot to be half-tempo actions. From narrow measure with the fixed foot the action takes one tempo. And finally, a lunge from wide measure takes a tempo and a half.
When you are outside of measure, there is no reason to divide the tempo into halves. At this distance you can gain wide measure bit by bit about concerning yourself with the quickness of your actions or the length of your opponent’s stillness.
Ways you can lose tempo
The first way you can lose tempo, and thus perform actions to slowly to be effective, is through a shortcoming of nature. For example, a you can be too slow in the arm, leg, or body by being overweight and too fat or underweight and too weak.
The second way you can lose time is through a defect in your art. Capoferro cites problems with posture such as having the arm too far forward relative to the leg or vice versa. Another detective art is not learning how to obtain narrow measure by even learning of it’s importance.
The third way you can lose tempo is simply a lack of practice. Your body may not yet be limber, or you might have some bad habits such as using feints and disengages and counter-disengages.