In Speed, Less is More

Speed is a desirable attribute for anyone concerned with self-defense. A faster draw stroke or block can often be the difference between life and death when it really counts. When people try to improve their speed, I often see an excess of well… everything. Despite what your ego is telling you, flailing around like a coked up monkey running through a burning building doesn’t make you fast.

You see, speed is essentially the lack of all extra movements. It has less to do with how hard you try and much more to do with how much or little you do. Most beginners find themselves working as hard as they can to be faster. This extra effort to be faster actually turns out to be detrimental to the cause. Why you ask? Because this effort tends to change the trajectory of a movement.

In theory the fastest way to get from A to B is a straight line. In practice this isn’t the case because we have to negotiate obstacles. These obstacles cause us to modify our path from A to B. We can optimize this path to minimize the time it takes by not stopping at C on the way. Our extra effort often results in us making this extra stop despite not intentionally doing so. If we truly want to maximize speed, we must train ourselves to get rid of any and all extraneous movement.

Starting slow

In training we can minimize movement by first practicing slower. This may seem counter-intuitive, but when broken down it makes a lot of sense. By practicing slow we can perfect the movements we make. Remember while practicing that the less movement you make while practicing the task, the faster it should be when going full speed. When you are confident that you have the most efficient possible movements you are ready to move on to the next step.

Accelerating your techniques

The next step is to increase speed. This should be gradual so you can continue to monitor your technique. Investing the time to practice your movements slowly and efficiently is for nothing if you toss everything out the window as soon as you go fast. Carefully speed things up, watching for extra, unneeded movement. By gradually ramping up we can consciously avoid reawakening our bad habits.

Maintaining speed

Getting there is the hard part, but like most things, speed is a perishable commodity. We need to work hard to maintain our speed. Practicing slowly as a regular part of your training can be a great way to reinforce the good habits and suppress the bad.

Just remember, “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.”

How do you practice to improve your speed? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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