The second fundamental technical exercise
The hanging speedball is a practice inspired by the ancient Shaolin methods (the famous 72 arts of Shaolin temple) and expanded according to our needs: we have already introduced it in Lesson 2.3 and now we will deepen the topic.
In its more concise version, the exercise is based on hitting and avoiding a moving target (the speedball) hanging on a rope (without stopping or grabbing it).
Here you can see a video example (read Combat training: the speedball exercise):
As we said in Lesson 3.6, the benefits are endless and all related to the development of real martial skills (reflexes, spatial intelligence, speed, stamina, etc.): it is for this reason that we focus so much on it.
How to practice correctly
What you need to practice this exercise
Hanging Speedball training:
- Can be performed in every area where there are 1-2 extremities to hang 1-2 ropes
- With the gloves, is not too dangerous and it does not require any particular skills to start
- Is good both for the beginner, both for the expert (the difficulty self-regulates to your psychophysical capabilities)
The evolution of the practice
The best way to rapidly reach a good level is to follow this gradual path:
- Read Basic tools: the Hanging Speedball
- The beginner starts with arms only and wearing the gloves; the target is a single speedball hanging at the height of the hearth of the practitioner; the rope must be normal and fixed to something solid (this way the trajectories are more predictable and included in a conical space)
- After a few sessions, you can start (with the right caution) to include the legs and the training weapons (read The basic equipment for training in 6DKF)
- After a few weeks, you have to alternate the level of air contained in the speedball (less air means blows in sequence, more air means more stamina workout)
- After a few months, you can start to randomly change the height of the speedball (dividing the practice into arms, legs and arms plus legs)
- Reached 5-6 months of practice you should replace the normal rope with an elastic one (adding speed and unpredictability to the practice)
- Reached 1 year you can start to hang the rope on another elastic one or on a tube that allows it to move horizontally (another increase in terms of difficulty)
- Reached 1 year and a half, sometimes, you can position safe obstacles (eg. made of soft plastic) on the ground; in addition to this you can alternate the practice with this Dodges, balance, spatial intelligence and attack: one exercise
- Reached 2 years, you can start to reduce the size of the target (eg. using a Tennis ball), leave the gloves and gradually increase the number of simultaneous targets (do not do this before, it decrease the quality of the practice slowing it down); sometimes, you can also perform balancing yourself on an unstable base (read Training for balance / rooting: feet on tires)
- After various years, sometimes, you can replace the speedball with a staff covered with foam protections (it is dangerous, do not do it before, read Advanced exercises: the swivel hanging stick)
A note by Master Kongling – Everything comes after is extremely dangerous and less relevant in terms of generic martial skills development (we only mention it in the video course and in the Core Course, near the black belt). In any case, it is important to stress that the most important practice is and remains the one with the normal speedball: even for the experts, the others are simply temporary variants (read Same exercises, different execution).
Insert the Hanging Speedball training in the daily sessions
Hanging Speedball training:
- Starts with the beginning of your 6 Dragons Kung Fu’s practice and never ends
- In a line of principle, should be performed almost every day
- Should be executed for 6-15 minutes for each session (with longer periodic executions, 20-120 minutes)
- To gain the best results, should be divided into upper limbs only, lower limbs only and full body (33% of the time for each)
A few secrets to improve
The idea is to always do better than the last time, at each execution. To make this possible, you have to:
- Always follow the flow of the target (if you wait for the speedball or if you do not sweat, you are losing your time)
- Never allow the speedball to penetrate your guard or hit you outside of your will (never let your guard down, read Lesson 5.2)
- Try to always be at the right distance to defend and to attack (follow it when it leaves, back off when it approaches, don’t be afraid of it)
- Count the number of blows that you can throw in a specific time (maintaining the difficulty, you always have to try to increase their number, read Analysis and improvement of performance)
- Use motivational music (read Workout music: how, when, why)
- Forget that you are training, forget everything; while you are performing this exercise, your mind should be focused only on that “virtual enemy” that moves fast and unpredictable like a speedball (read also Concentration and abstraction in combat)
- Do not rotate on yourself and do not leave the speedball at your shoulders; always variate the practice (making steps forward and backward), to do not transform it in a mechanical and useless routine
- Break the daily sequence with a week of total exclusion of this practice (2-3 times per year); this way your mind will have the time to forget the repetition and at the same time, to passively elaborate new dynamics
In the next lesson of this chapter, we will start to talk more deeply about the third fundamental practice.
In-depth video courses
- Basic 6 Dragons Kung Fu Exercises – A detailed visual explanation of the Hanging Speedball exercise (and the other fundamental ones)
- Shaolin training for reflexes – How to build the right basics for combat-oriented reflexes
- Speed training with the wooden dummy – An exercise to use the speedball as an obstacle
Reply in the comments and share your experience:
- As you practice this exercise, have you ever not to notice the time passing?
Author: Master KonglingFounder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.
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