Speed: How does science explain speed? And how to develop speed- FAST.
How to develop speed in your strikes. No mysticism, just simple science of being fast.
Mike Tyson famously said, “Speed kills”
To so many combat arts practitioners, speed is a hard modality to achieve. For this reason, in this article I will get into the science behind the speed.
I have done a lot of research and experimentation on speed training. When I asked fellow martial artists what they wanted my new programs to focus on, speed was up there with kicking height and power. So without long introduction, let’s talk about what you can do to become quick.
“Stay loose”, just “stay loose” This is a very common advice given by martial arts and boxing instructors. While not tensing helps, there's a lot more than simply avoiding being stiff or rigid during strikes.
Where It Comes From
You see swiftness of technique comes from two components. They are:
- A perfect acceleration chain.
- A deceleration mechanism.
Up First, the acceleration.
I found that when explaining this, it’s easier to speak of joints (knee, elbow, hip, etc) when talking about acceleration part, but muscles or muscle groups(hip flexors, adductors, etc) when talking about deceleration part.
A weapon can’t move fast, if it’s not thrown. Just like a ball, a foot or a fist must be thrown. This calls for a biomechanical whip chain. As a matter of fact acceleration is needed for power as well, but we’ll get into that in the coming articles.
For example, let’s take a roundhouse kick, or turning kick.
An athlete can’t simple abduct the hip and extend the knee to do a kick. The hip must be abducted (leg lifted to the side, away form the center line), at the same time as it’s horizontally flexed (angle lessened). The flexed hip is what accelerates the knee joint to extend.
However, the hip can’t flex without the pelvis first not moving in the same direction as the intended kick.
The pelvis is accelerated by the rotation of the body into the kick path and then pulling away from it right after, just at the same time that the pelvis begins to rotate into the kick. If this confuses you, just keep in mind that several joints move in succession, till the weapon ( foot, shin, ball of the foot) finally flies toward the target.
Any break in the timing of this chain and speed is lost.
So now, let’s assume this chain is mastered. Now you are proudly standing in front of the mirror, and are ready to throw a lightning speed kick. Would you be able to do it? Most likely not, unless your body would let you get injured. Here comes the second part of speed. The deceleration.
Your body is very much inclined to keep you safe. In simple terms, it knows that if you throw a fast kick, you will have to slow it down.
When throwing a roundhouse kick, the hamstrings and part of your calf slows down the kick. The muscles must be trained to decelerate at high speed, and in stretched position. If the deceleration is not successful, the muscle get’s injured.However, usually it does not get to that. You simply won't be able to do the fast kick, that’s all. You body won’t let you. It will intentionally hold the speed back.
This explains why some people have great technique, proper chain and yet can’t kick fast.
So you see, there is nothing mythical about speed, just have to know the science behind it.
All you have to do is get those two factors, and do them in proper measured progression and the speed is yours. It’s that simple.
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