What is it?
One of the basic 6 Dragons Kung Fu training is Hanging Speedballs. As anyone could guess, it basically consists of a speedball hanging from an elastic cord through carabiners.
Used alone or in combination with other tools, the speedball is one the most useful “opponent” (after a human) to simulate realistic fighting dynamics.
What is it for?
In our style speedballs are used:
- As a mobile target for kicks and punches
- As a target for weapons (training versions, not sharpened, not tipped, not in metal)
- To learn how to dodge / deflect / hit fast moving objects
- To learn how to modify our defense / attack in function of the motion of the target (event at the last instant)
- To learn to adapt us to unconventional situations (different timing, unpredictable directions, unconventional heights, etc.)
- To assess our offensive technique in terms of power, application and effectiveness
- To figure out if we are mastering enough a technique or the use a weapon to use it in a fast reactive situation
- To learn to strike effectively in short and long distance
- To find / recognize time to load power shots or to hit directly
- To learn to quickly measure distances, times and directions of movements
- To figure out how to hit and how to position our body in a stable way
What are the goals?
The objectives of this kind of practice are the developing of:
- Spatial intelligence
- Defense and attack attitude
- Elastic force
- Breathing (stamina)
- Mobility (legs/arms)
- With the right exercises even touch and hearing
How to prepare the necessary equipment
What we need:
- If we have never done a speedball training it is important to start with one but for future purpose, it’s a good idea to buy at least 3-4 speedballs
- 10-15 bungee cords with attached carabiners
How to prepare the equipment for our first basic workout:
- Let’s find a free / safe place at least of 4x4m (read The most suitable places to train)
- This place needs something to hook / tie / hang securely our elastic cords
- Let’s inflate a speedball with a normal pump for bicycle tires or soccer balls (let’s avoid the compressor)
- If possible let’s put a protection on the upper part of the internal air chamber (it is the most rubbed and easier to pierce part)
- Let’s combine at least a couple of elastic ropes with carabiners and let’s attach the speedball at one end of the rope extremities
- Let’s hang the opposite part of the rope so that the speedball arrives at the height of our abdomen (it must be able to swing a lot)
- Important: let’s try to do not block the rope movement, it has to freely move also in the upper part and not only in the speedball part
A basic training Hanging Speedball training
How to train:
- Let’s reverse, follow, precede, dodge and channel the movement of the speedball
- Let’s use the whole body to attack and to defend (hands, feet, fingers, head, shoulders, knees, etc.)
- Let’s try to strike quickly, in a flexible way but without too much force for now (otherwise the speedball will take long time to bounce)
- Let’s try to do not stop the flow of the speedball, we do not have to grab it or stabilize it
- The speedball “self-regulate” its ability by what we do, we do not have to stand still, we need jump, crouch, roll (etc.)
- If we slow down our rhythm it will do the same, let’s try to follow and stay near to it as much as possible
- We have to focus on not be hit, each time the speedball touches us (against our will) we have to imagine to have been hit by a punch or a kick (we have to avoid it)
- We have to try to become faster, responsive and to get in trouble in every way, this is the only way to improve
- The gloves are unnecessary, however, if we do not use them and we are not conditioned (read Hands conditioning: first approach with a bag of rice) it’s easy to strip the skin of the hands or worst to suffer small abrasions
- Let us be careful with the rope, if we are not suited to dynamic balance (read The concept of dynamic equilibrium inspired by the Tai Chi) when it wraps our limbs it can make us fall
- Let’s try to avoid to hit the upper and the lower part of the speedball (for those who are not conditioned the carabiner hurts and the seams cut)
- Let’s do not try to remember the mechanical motion of the speedball, this invalidates the exercise, we have to imagine that there is a fast and unpredictable opponent in front of us
- At each session it’s a good idea to change the height of the rope (we should not get used to it, we have to imagine to hit real body targets)
Later we will see some of the myriads of exercises and variations that can be applied to this fundamental practice.
Author: Master Kongling
Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.