I would like to read a discussion of speed from people outside my style.
Josh Young wrote:Personally i think there is no point in trying to master speed without trying to master stillness and slowness, and they seem a lot harder than speed is to master.
Josh Young wrote:stillness has some great tactical advantages, for example punching a solid object destroys a fist or wrist, and a body can be rather solid or rather, solidified, at the right moment, or the reverse.
Slowness is closely involved with increasing torque in some ways as well, and this does have some nice applications against different fast strikes
I don't punch any hard surface of the body, i use open palm, and have trained against hard surfaces like steel beams, but that reflects my own experience and observation.
for me speed is important in a different way, one that might contradict the teaching here, though it isn't per say at odds with it, that is being able to make a slow move end up very fast or a fast move end up very slow, according to reactionary principals dictated by the 'attacker'
but to get into guards good speed is essential, i use some basic drills to work on mine and i am sure that this is common to nearly all those who practice
i also love making my kicks fast, but i wonder if my energy is different, because i use momentum and relaxation in a way that allows me to whip my hips and use that to power kicks and arm strikes, as well as shoulder and elbow and throws etc, this motion basically flicks the limb out, i am not sure if it works on being fast as instructed above
another aspect of speed i consider important to note is how if a long object is moving with one end as the axis, then right by the axis the object is moving at a slow velocity (with high torque) and then the end of the object is moving with very high velocity (with low torque), this relates a lot to the use of a stick or sword and how there is a sweet spot for cutting that not only reflects the harmonic point of balance on the sword but also relates to the sturdy part of the motion of the cut itself
with the right slow motion you can telegraph a strike you won't do and then follow through with something completely different, but this is a common thing in CMA/Wushu, also it can be found in some boxing 'cheats' where a jab becomes an elbow. Speed is the key to this of course.
Have you every found that a point of diminished returns exists with speed? that there exists such a thing as a sacrifice of other aspects of technique for speed? It is the case in my experience that to be too fast is sometimes flawed and can lead to trouble, such as with fast retractions of limbs being followed back and not allowed to extend again, where the slow ones can deflect in a more active way and use 'sticky' energy
i find it very hard to be my fastest without losing some of my 'stickiness'
Windrider wrote:CORRECTION - I failed to make this clear: "2. It is impossible to have a perfect balance of Yin and Yang energies in a strike."
I meant that it is impossible for us to WILLFULLY achieve true perfection of balance in ourselves. At some point while the forces cross over from one side to the other, they naturally have a point of perfect balance that we cannot even perceive. What we want is to have that natural point of perfection to occur at the right time. I know I am not articulating this very well, but we have seen the miraculous effects of it, as I am sure many of you have. Sorry I can't say it any better than that. Perhaps one of you can.
Windrider wrote:Here is an excerpt from Torin Feng - Book Five of The Dragons of Wulin that you may find interesting. The main character, Torin Feng, is studying at a southern praying mantis school. In this excerpt, his teacher is introducing him to the Eight Aspects of Speed.
I would like to read a discussion of speed from people outside my style.
At length, he stopped and said, “You might think you have heard us talk a lot about speed, but you haven’t even begun to hear what you need to hear. The speed of your hands has increased, but you have no speed at all, as far as I’m concerned. I know that’s hard for you to hear, but speed is absolutely essential to us. Even the fastest war artists from other arts don’t understand our speed; perhaps even those from the other mantis schools. We are the fastest. For now, you only think of speed in one simple way, but there are Eight Aspects of Speed in our system.”
“Eight? I thought there were ten.”
“No. Eight. You are thinking of The Ten Concerns of the Mantis: speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, patience, precision, timing and perception. I am talking about the aspects of speed itself. The Eight Aspects of Speed are perception, initiation, change, decision, deception, repetition, recovery and mobility. Let me explain, because I know these terms mean nothing to your muddled little head.”
“Speed of Perception means, at the first level, seeing the enemy’s movement at its beginning. It means understanding that movement and its potential without letting your mind fixate on it. By not fixating, I mean just observing the totality of what is, and not believing that it cannot change. Anyway, Speed of Perception is important to battle because it tells you what is going on, and does so much faster than your conscious mind can think.
“Speed of Initiation means bringing your movements up to full speed in the first quarter inch of movement. Most fighters only achieve their full speed at the very end of their swing. What a waste. What a stupid, useless waste! It’s nothing but lazy effort that makes them so slow.” He grabbed the front of my tunic with one hand and shook me as he said, “Whatever speed you can achieve, get it in the first quarter inch of movement or don’t bother to swing at all! Do you hear me?”
“Yes,” I said, trying not to look as frightened as I felt.
“Letting go, he said, “There’s nothing I hate worse than lazy, sloppy efforts... even in my enemies.” After thinking for a bit, he continued, “Anyway, your efforts to achieve your full speed in the first quarter inch will vastly increase your full speed. Do you understand this?”
“But do you fully understand it?”
“Good answer. I’m glad you didn’t make me smack you for a stupid answer.” Then he laughed and said, “I’m sorry. Talking about that aspect of speed always gets my blood up.” He counted on his fingers, saying, “Let’s see, perception, initiation, oh, Speed of Change is next. Speed of Change means controlling your inertia and balance in order to be able to change your movements at an instant’s notice. No plan survives initial contact with the enemy. So you have to be able to change your efforts very quickly, or you will be caught off guard. Or you will be tricked and caught flat-footed. The basic first step on the path to Speed of Change is relaxation. See? Even now you are tensed up. I see it in your shoulders. I see it in your eyes. Yes, even in your mind you are tensed up. That’s why this great teaching is hard for you. Your mind and body are hard and stiff, so you cannot adapt to this new idea. But don’t worry your tensed-up little mind. We have drills that will cause you to learn.” He laughed and added, “Oh, yes. You will very much want to learn when that time comes.
“Next is Speed of Decision. That means increasing the power of your inner mind to make well-informed and tactical decisions much faster than you could plod through with your conscious mind. How is this done? It’s done by training your mind to recognize situations and come up with solutions very quickly. It depends partly upon Speed of Perception, but there is much more to it than that. It’s a matter of not just knowing what is going on, but deciding what to do about it. And all this must be done faster than you can think. Anything less than that will get you killed. We have drills for this aspect, too. The main one is what we call progressive sparring. Master Chien Dru invented it, himself, and there’s no better way to awaken this aspect of speed in your mind. Now, I have only touched on this aspect, but the superficial teaching is all that your mind can take at this point. Anything deeper right now would only confuse you.
“Speed of Deception is the fifth aspect. It means getting your movements going without stupid windups and useless motions that tell your enemy what you are going to do. Unlike most of the others, it’s a simple concept for the mind. On the other hand, it’s a very difficult concept to train into the body. But we have drills for that, too. And it goes farther than just the body. Speed of Deception, when conquered in the body then flows into the mind and spirit. It’s good enough to see the shocked reaction on an enemy’s face when he realizes far too late that you are swinging on him, but how much sweeter it is to never even give him the chance to react. When your mind and spirit can accomplish Speed of Deception by not giving away your physical movements, then you will have a precious treasure in your arsenal.
“Now Speed of Repetition means two separate things to us. First off, it means not wasting time between the individual strikes in a series. Secondly, it means not wasting time between any of your movements. And, guess what.”
“Uh, you have drills for this aspect?”
“Exactly. You’re going to love them. Second to last is Speed of Recovery, which means not hanging your arm out there like a slug when you deliver a strike. If your arm hangs like a dead tree limb then it is not ready to strike again, is it?”
“Of course not. And it leaves it out there for a stronger opponent to grab and use against you. You have to stay free and be ready at every moment. Not one fraction of the smallest instant must be given to the enemy. It all must be yours, or you will not prevail. Now I mention the folly of leaving an arm out there after a strike, but it is so for every movement. This is the essence of Speed of Recovery. Every single movement of your body, and your mind, I might add, must be recovered faster than instantly and readied for what must come next. It must be ready for anything. There must not be a single instant when you are slopped out there and unprepared.”
“Lastly is Speed of Mobility. But do not think it is last on the list because it is least in importance. Mobility lets you choose when and where the clash takes place. And it enables you to avoid the stronger attack and stab instantly into the weaker. Now, mobility is not just running around, which is important in its own way. No, mobility is also a matter of the postures of your body. It is the slip and dodge. It is the stance, steps and sway of the mantis for the gaining of relative positions to avoid the enemy’s weapons and to get yours into him. It is to not be where he wants you to be. It is to disappear from where he saw you. It is to make the ground your own and deny it to him.
“So there you have them: perception, initiation, change, decision, deception, repetition, recovery, and mobility. These are The Eight Aspects of Speed. You’re not going to remember most of what I have just told you, not consciously anyway, but the seeds are planted in your mind. Think about them. Meditate on them. Ask questions about them. Make them a part of you, and they will serve you well. Now let’s get some work done.”
The book goes on through the training for these aspects of speed and nothing I have ever encountered in all my decades of learning and teaching martial arts comes close to the powerful ideas and training methods contained in this novel. I started out in my early years being slow. I usually made up for it with deception, but I took the mantis moves I had learned and made a form of them. It improved my speed a lot, but the speed research I did over the years did far more than that. In this book, I present that research on speed, which benefited me so much, to the reader.
"Speed is the essence of war." -Sun Tzu
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