As you progress in your chosen martial art into more advanced levels of development, you start to work on higher level skills. At our dojo, higher level students, usually purple and up, start to learn to apply their skills with more speed. Speed is important in the martial arts. The faster you can move, the more likely you are to catch your attacker off guard and get out of the way of incoming attacks. That being said, there are 3 principles that should not be sacrificed in order to become faster. They are as follows:
When people go faster, they have a tendency to cut corners in order to do so. This can happen in a variety of ways. They use less hip rotation, when striking, focusing more on the movement of their limbs. They don’t follow through on their movements, so as to move on to the next movement as quickly as possible. They don’t properly break balance as much or bend
2. Flow. When people take short cuts that lead to more strength-based application, they tend to be more tense throughout all their movements. This leads to more staccato like movements, which cause them to lose flow. When you keep your technique more relaxed and flowing, you are better able to adapt to changes in attack. It also makes your own movements harder to predict.
3. Control. When people add too much speed to your martial arts techniques before they’re ready, they lose control over their movements, which can lead to injury to themselves or their training partners. This can come about in a number of ways. Perhaps you might not properly set up a strike or spot your targets before striking, which can cause you to miss your target making it less effective or you may strike a target harder than you mean to causing injury to yourself or your partner. If throwing someone, you might throw them in a dangerous way because you didn’t break their balance properly. When doing joint locks, you may not give your partner sufficient time to tap out in time to save their joint. You absolutely MUST be very aware of what you’re doing as you add more speed to your techniques, and work at a pace that you know your partner is ready for.
The biggest problem when people begin to add speed is that they think it’s all about explosive power. They rush through their techniques, increasing the amount of strength they use in order to achieve this. This is the wrong way to go. The reason why we don’t emphasize speed and power at lower levels is because we, as instructors, want to ensure that these principles aren’t compromised. Before we start to introduce more speed, we expect our students to have their basic principles quite ingrained so that they are less likely to lose it as they speed up. If they do, we simply ask students to slow down to a speed that keeps things clean.