Archives for September 2015

The 5 Elements of Martial Arts Speed Training

In Martial Arts speed is essential,
…but simple being fast isn’t good enough.

No matter how much natural speed you may have, proper training will beat it.

The good news is that no matter how slow or clumsy your are, if you put in the work, you can become fast.

There are 5 elements of speed training in the martial arts.

1. Power must be present

As soon as you tell someone to move fast they throw out good body mechanics and leave behind all their power.

Not only speed is useless if you can’t do anything with it, but true speed cannot be had without good body mechanics.

So, not only did they throw away power for a small speed gain, they throw away the potential of becoming truly fast.

Good body mechanics are essential for both power and speed.

Starting by training the principles of power and you will have built a foundation for speed as well.

2. Physical Conditioning

This is the most obvious and often over emphasized of the 5. You do need to put in some time preparing the body for explosive movement by training the tendons and ligaments. You also need to practice moving fast occasionally.

Here are two exercises that strengthen the body in preparation for fast explosive movement. (Among other benefits.)

Clear’s Bagua Exercise #1 for Internal Power, Strength & Flexibility

Wing Chun Lesson 1 – How to build Iron Body & Internal Power

3. Economy of motion

This is deceptively simple.

Don’t move more than you need to.

Most martial artists have much more wasted movement than they realize and to make matters worse they pause in their movement frequently.

Unfortunately, they move too quickly to notice these errors.

In an effort to be fast they are missing the very errors that are slowing them down.

The majority of your sparring and partner drills should be practice at an excruciatingly slow speed.

..and even when you do train faster, make sure to always move slower than your opponent.

If you are moving efficiently, their speed won’t matter.

If they beat you because of speed then you have efficiency errors. Slow it back down until you are going slow enough to catch the errors and correct them.

4. Suddenly Quick

Your speed is useless if your opponent knows what you’re going to do before you do it.

Your intentions must be hidden. You must be able to work from any position.

You must be able to go from nothing to something in an instant. Most people have a ‘get ready’ stage between nothing and something. Even when this is subtle it will make your speed less effective.

5. Relax

Relaxation is almost a prerequisite.

It doesn’t matter how much other speed training you do. If you are tense you cannot be fast.

Tension limits your ability to fully engage your body’s mass, violating rule #1. It slows down your physical movement negating the benefits of physical conditioning (#2) and limits your mobility (#3 economy of motion.) Tension also greatly increases the visibility of any telegraphing you do (#4 suddenly quick.)

Remember, there is always room for improvement in relaxation. and the benefits of relaxation are exponential in nature. Even small gains will have significant benefits.

Speed with Age:

Inevitably, a certain amount of speed will leave us with age.

However, if you train all 5 of these principles properly, you can maximize your full speed potential.

…and more importantly you’ll be quicker than all the young whippersnappers.

Learn to build explosive Speed and Power with our new DVD:

Is this common Kung Fu myth slowing you down and robbing you of power?

A common myth in the martial arts is that you should tense at the moment of impact.

Like any good myth it’s based on fact:

kinetic energy (KE) equals one half mass times velocity squared (KE=1/2m x v²)

This formula shows that we need to increase speed and mass to get more power.

So the strategy is to do everything you can to get your fist moving as fast as possible then right at the moment of impact you tense your entire body. The theory is that by tensing your whole body you are now striking with your entire mass instead of the mass of your fist or arm.

In practice this will only get you so far.

If you have major alignment errors, then you can use tension to limit the amount of power you lose at the joints.

However, this tension puts a limit on how much power you can get into your strike and it can cause injury.

Here’s how it works:

Alignment errors separate the body limiting how much mass you can get into your strike.

If your shoulder is not aligned properly, then you can’t get the mass of your body engaged and only your arm mass will be in the strike.

Tension also separates the body, but not as much.

So by tensing the shoulder you’ll get more mass engaged (but still a fraction of what it could be.)

This tension causes some major problems:

  1. It slows you down. You are freezing everything for an instant. This limits your momentum (part of why it limits your power.) It also means that your next strike comes on instant later. It may not seem like much, but in a life and death situation every instant counts and these stops add up quick. An opponent who doesn’t make this error can quickly be several steps ahead while using less effort than you.
  1. In addition to the long term health effects of tension, anytime you focus force on part of the body that is misaligned you increase the risk of injury. Tension can reduce this risk in the short term (unless the force is great enough to overcome the tension.) However, it also serves to focus the force on the tense area.

In the example above, if you tense your shoulder during every strike to compensate for the alignment error, eventually you will develop a bad shoulder.

We see this a lot.

The most common issues are bad backs, shoulders & knees from years of using tension to compensate for poor alignment while playing a sport, doing physical labor or training.

The solution is simple.

Work on your body mechanics!

Good alignment means less power is lost at the joints. You can stay relaxed, engage more body mass and you can move faster.

Not only can you move faster and hit harder, you are much less prone to short and long term injury.

To learn more about the body mechanics of speed (without sacrificing power) go check out the new Speed Striking DVD.

Wednesday is the last day it’s on sale.