Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Speed & Quickness

Speed & Quickness

Perhaps the easiest thing to do in karate is to throw a kick or a punch, when you know the basics. With a little practice, anyone can do that. But when it comes down to fighting and winning, the thing that separates the winners from losers is speed. Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Muhammad Ali all became superior fighters because of their sound techniques and winning speed. They were able to react on their opponents more frequently and effectively than their opponents on them. However, speed is not a simple phenomenon.
There are actually five different types of speed and each one must be practiced for a fighter to be effective.

These are: physical speed, mental speed, natural speed, offensive speed and defensive speed. As you study speed, realize that there is no one single speed that will make a fighter effective. Each one of these five speeds is very closely related to the other. You cannot have one and not posses the others. As a fighter, competitor or martial artist in general you need a minimum of three of he five for you to be successful. You can get by with mental, physical, and natural speed-and not have defensive or offensive speeds-and still be effective. In order to develop speed you will have to discipline yourself to work on each of them and like everything else, develop them into superior qualities. Speed will not develop on its own.

Physical Speed. You can develop physical speed with knowledge and repetition of a movement or technique. A fighter may not be naturally fast puncher, but he can develop speed of hands and feet through repetition and familiarity with a technique. In a street encounter, or a competition, if the situation calls for the use of a crescent kick –having put hours of practice into that kick, knowing it inside and out from all angles- when it comes time to use it, it will be there for you.With physical speed you are training to develop the speed of your weapons.

Natural Speed. Every human being has a natural, built in reaction mechanism that takes over to protect him in times of danger and fear. For example, all of us will instinctively cover up to avoid being hit. One does not have to think first. After understanding your instinctive response to a spontaneous threat, that natural involuntary reaction can be developed and trained to be used in many ways relating to the martial arts. A few boxing greats, like Muhammad Ali, develop their natural speed and apply them to slipping, ducking and weaving techniques to preventing themselves from taking unnecessary blows.

Offensive Speed. When a fighter attacks an opening or has put an opponent on the defense, he needs offensive speed to take advantage of the movement. Offensive speed simply combines natural and physical speed in an aggressive manner. Training to develop as just has important as speed in the defense.

Defensive Speed. When an opponent advances, no matter what he throws kick, punch or whatever-you automatically block it. It doesn’t matter if he throws five techniques in succession, you will block them. That is defensive speed. Your blocks and parries are the only chances you have to develop defensive speed. With defensive speed you are developing choice reactions to an attack rather than relying on the pure instinctive reactions of natural speed.

Mental Speed. Imagery and premeditation are characteristic of mental speed. Many great fighters seem to be just one step ahead of their opponents: their movements seem effortless, even planned. Their timing is impeccable because they have conditioned their minds to move, catching their opponents before, during or immediately after the attack.There is much more to be said about speed, but perhaps the one outstanding factor and value to every fighter is the relation of speed to power. In your training to develop speed you will also develop power, especially as it relates to offensive movements. Most martial artist are not aware of this. Think of a car: It is a simple fact that upon impact with a object traveling 15 miles per hour, you will do less damage than one traveling 55 or 100 mph.

Speed is power.

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