Speed and quickness

What is the difference between speed and quickness?

Let’s start with a little disambiguation note to determine the difference between speed and quickness in terms of martial arts:

  • Quickness – It is the time that our natural and “innate” body capabilities need to move our body (eg. we are quick if we can throw a punch in a short amount of time)
  • Speed – It is that skill that comes from experience and allows us to execute effectively a combat technique (eg. we are fast if we can complete a technique, with precision, timing and without errors in a short amount of time)

In this way of seeing the velocity of execution, everyone can express quickness (eg. shaking a hand) but only a real fighter can manifest speed.

A note by Master Kongling – Quickness is relatively easy to reach, it’s a matter of muscular workout and it indeed useful and important but real speed means effectiveness, means to win the battle. Let’s be clear, speed is undoubtedly nourished by quickness, but it is not just that: to gain this kind of skill is a matter of years of hard and focused training (read Introduction to the idea of Precision Control).

Why this distinction is fundamental

As it is stupid to develop an incredible power without control, it is useless to be able to perform high-speed movements if, in the meantime, we make serious errors like:

Self-defense fighting (read The 6 types of martial clash) is not a sport and it does not happen in predetermined / protected / favorable contexts (read Martial art and self-defense: what are the differences?); we cannot expect:

  • Time – To have the time to prepare ourselves to express the maximum performance
  • Space – To have the right place to execute our moves without interferences or risks
  • Respect – To automatically have a respectfully, honest, sympathetic (etc.) adversary
  • Standards – To have a specific range of contexts of action and reaction

We must be always ready to adapt ourselves to scenarios that we do not know and that we do not expect (environments, opponents type, number, personal conditions, etc.).

The correct way to gain speed of execution

When we study a technique (but even while we train with a new exercise) we must follow this order of interiorization (read The best way to study technique: 10 tips):

  • Acquire the movement with patience (by trial and error)
  • Eliminate the deficiencies
  • Gain speed
  • Gain power
  • Combine everything effectively
  • Apply it with gradually less collaborative partners
  • Customize the technique to our body and mindset

Let’s never forget that attitude is a choice, not a heaven’s gift.


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Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Can you make an example of speed and quickness?

Author: Master Kongling

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