A recent post over on Marks Training called illusion of speed has got me thinking. It’s all very well saying that to become quicker you need to create an illusion of speed by blocking and striking simultaneously or whatever it may be. That provides us with an example of what to do but not how to achieve it. If you train in Karate’s Ippon Kumite you may soon be blocking and striking simultaneously in response to an Oi Suki, lunge punch attack. This is great but the timing is not representative of a real fight. The point is the ‘what’ is achieved but because the methodology used to achieve it is flawed the outcome is also flawed.
To be fair to the blog cited, the author does elaborate on the ‘how’ of achieving speed development elsewhere. He describes some methods of improving speed and provides a drill called “red line” which has worked well for him. Personally, I’ve never been fast, that is until I started training with Steve Morris, who has managed to improve my speed immensely. While I’m not exactly Usain Bolt or anything, at 42 I am now quicker than I have ever been, both in technique and on my feet. It may sound ridiculous but there you have it.
The first thing that got me moving quicker was pulling punches instead of pushing them. Now this doesn’t mean stopping them before hitting the target, rather it refers to concentrating on the pulling action of the returning limb rather than the actual striking limb. Well at least that’s a way of noticing the difference. It’s such a simple thing, but if you have a tendency of pushing out your strikes to the target by simply replacing the pushing action with a pulling action, punch speed increases. If you rep out your fastest strikes for a few seconds and then change the emphasis you’ll see the difference, try it. The improvement is instant! It also better allows the throwing of the body when whipping in a punch.
It may take a little while to ingrain the pulling action but you will feel and see the difference. Another way to improve speed is to work on explosive movement. By definition explosive is fast! Morris gets you to access the startle reflex as a way of understanding what explosive/fast is. That may sound daft but I believe part of the problem I had was, not truly knowing what quick actually was. The image that stuck with me was of the deer grazing in the wood as the hunter approaches. He makes a noise which startles the deer, which jumps and runs off in one explosive action.
When demonstrating this Morris will get you to ‘jump’ as if a big bang has gone off, then you simply adapt the movement, as the deer does. Again this is simple. You can even say BANG, which helps, but it really has to be
rather than a mumbled half-hearted effort of a bang! The verbalisation leads and reinforces the action but thats another story.