DEVELOPING COMBAT SPEED
Speed is a primary attribute which must be coupled with accuracy. Although this combination takes precedence over power, speed can contribute greatly to increasing power.
Speed can be obtained by
• relaxing – do NOT tense at all; not even upon contact, as is commonly (and mistakenly) believed
• executing direct moves -- using the shortest, safest and most effective path to your opponent
• maintaining a continuous flow of motion -- no lapses or hesitation between techniques or movement
• rounding off the corners of angular moves -- do not stop one action to start another unless resistance forces you to do so
• exploding with your action, using proper breathing methods
To understand traditional Afrikan martial arts techniques and how they function, you must understand the human body and how our senses help make our body function intuitively.
"Don’t suffer paralysis through your analysis", is a statement I like to use to imply the need for prompt action. It is a statement referring to terms related to speed. “Ogun blesses the swift.” Is a statement well known to those initiated into the Mysteries of the Yoruba Spirit of Iron and War, Ogun. As we investigate deeper into the Afrikan martial arts, we learn that success or failure in combat is directly related to distance and time. By definition speed is equal to the distance divided by the time (s=d/t) it takes to act or move.
Speed, however, goes beyond the definitions described. We must distinguish and categorize speed to make it meaningful to the Afrikan Warrior. There are three categories of speed: perceptual, mental, and physical. However, although categorized separately in order to analyze what speed entails, these categories, nevertheless, function as one.
Perceptual Speed is how quickly the senses monitor the stimulus that they receive, determine the meaning of the stimulus, and convey the perceived information to the brain so that mental speed can parlay the response. To the Afrikan Warrior, it is the feel or smell of trouble, a sound that detects trouble, a sign or gesture that suggests trouble, seeing the incoming strike, the inviting opening, or the opportunity to attack or counterattack. Speed of this type can be increased by maintaining alertness and by conditioning the senses to harmonize with environmental awareness.
Mental Speed is how quickly the mind selects appropriate movements to effectively deal with the perceived stimulus. Speed of this type, however, can only be increased by practicing the various aspects of Afrikan martial arts techniques on a regular basis. This involves learning the techniques to a point of total familiarity and instinctive response (mental speed) in nullifying the threat. As you broaden your knowledge of alternatives and can conceptualize the random answers that exist in your subconscious mind, your instinctive response (mental speed) increases proportionately when it is triggered by the perceived stimulus.
Physical Speed (body performance) is the promptness of physical movement and the fluency in response to the perceived stimulus. In Afrikan martial arts, it is the speed of the actual execution of a technique. Speed of this type can be increased through stretching, body conditioning, and other proper methods of training. Stretching exercises help to increase elasticity which automatically develops reach. Body conditioning prevents fatigue and allows physical speed to function for longer periods of time. Knowledge of the Afrikan principle of “Waste No Part of the Animal” (economy of motion) also contributes to speed. It avoids erroneous angles, and teaches you how to administer your strength (power) in obtaining the most for your efforts in the shortest possible time. This principle
• stresses the importance of being relaxed when striking
• makes one aware that time is crucial
• uses movements that follow direct angles and paths
• eliminates telegraphing unless used as a means of deceptive strategy
• teaches continuity, flow, and motion rhythm
• teaches you to respond from wherever your natural weapons are located at any given time in combat, no matter what your, or your opponent's, body position may be at the time
• teaches you to also consider the speed of your opponent's action or reaction when analyzing economy of motion