Combat: when speed can make the difference
Only when our technical level and our instinct start to become calibrated is time to think about speed development (read How to learn to fight: all the steps).
Note – This article has been asked by one of our Core Course practitioners on Patreon (see how to attend our home study classes here Learn Kung Fu online: a beginner-to-expert course).
The point is that if a beginner immediately starts to focus on becoming faster, he risks to damage the development of correct muscle memory (read The muscle memory):
- Making “mechanical” movements which in 90% of cases are still not correct
- Working at a pace where he has no real control over what is happening
Said this, let’s see how we can face the study of speed.
The development of combat speed
The benefits of speed training
Speed training is certainly a powerful ally in combat terms, it allows us to:
- Reach our targets faster (exploiting even the smallest occasions)
- Make our mind faster (building, therefore, the skill we call Quick Reasoning, read All the skills of 6 Dragons Kung Fu, the capability to elaborate tactics in real time)
- “Hide” our movements (confusing our opponents and making it difficult, for them, to intercept us and break our pace)
- Execute more tasks in the same amount of time (for example bringing multiple attacks instead of one in the same time frame)
A note by Master Kongling – When a fighter’s body is fast it is certainly a positive thing but when the mind is fast too and when it manages to move our structure accordingly, the result is that: everything, around us, starts to move in slow motion (yes, as in the Matrix movies).
The risks of not mastering speed
Even if the use of the maximum speed is not automatically an optimal choice, it is equally true that if we do not get used to manage it, to apply it and to endure the others’ one: it will be easy to become the booty of those who are able to master it (eg. a lightweight boxer).
After a certain level, training ignoring this factor means managing situations inevitably simpler and / or purely didactic (read Why martial arts do not work: 5 reasons).
It is for this reason that in 6 Dragons Kung Fu, when the practitioner starts to know himself, we involve the use of the maximum speed (directly or indirectly): in almost every training session.
At the base of speed training
Speed training is not a simple thing but we will see some exercises that:
- Will open the doors to the use of our maximum fighting speed
- Will give us the opportunity to increase it
Before starting, however, it is essential to make some crucial premises (to protect our integrity):
- A medical opinion is forcibly needed (read How to train without risks)
- The exercises that involve high-speed movements (from the simpler to the most complex) should be performed only after a good warm-up (read Basic warm-up), stretching (read Basic soft stretching) and (possibly) other intense practices
- At the first signals of discomfort, the practice must be interrupted; we will be able to resume it only after the number of days needed to completely recover the affected body parts
- The maximum speed, especially if we are not athletically fit (or no longer very young), should not be achieved at once but only after more and more gradual sessions
- Except for those who are in perfect physical shape, the exercises that relate to the pure and continuous expression of the highest speed we can reach should be performed at least at 1-3 days from each other; in the meaning time we can (must) train but doing something else
- The exercises we are going to list are incremental but the transition to the more “intense” does not exclude the practice of the others (each of them has specific purposes and is interconnected with the others)
How to find the maximum speed we can express
To reply to the initial question: the maximum speed that our body can express is (as for the martial weapons) the one that comes from the tip of our extremities (see also Sword and combat: the first rule to learn).
The goal of our speed training is to:
- Condition the rest of our body to that kind of pace (mind included)
- Make our entire structure work at its maximum performances
- Work on those elements that are naturally slow
In the next article of this series, we will describe a first simple exercise designed to start to find, stabilize and spread to the rest of the body the maximum speed we can express (read Speed: the vibration’s exercise).
In-depth video courses
- Advanced speed and reflexes training – A complete video course about the development of speed
- How to punch faster – A mini video course about how to improve the punching speed
- Speed training with the wooden dummy – An advanced variant of the wooden dummy
- Reflexes and spatial intelligence: an exercise with the Tennis Ball – An advanced level workout to improve your reactivity
Reply in the comments and share your experience:
- Have you ever felt so quick to do something to see the others as in slow motion?
Author: Master KonglingFounder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.
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