The Importance of Speed in Martial Arts

In order to be a good martial artist you must aim at excelling in a number of different skills and having at the same time:

  • Strength
  • Agility
  • Coordination
  • Reflexes
  • Balance
  • Endurance
  • Speed

The last but definitely not least one in the list, Speed, is to be considered of extreme importance because it affects most of your performance when practicing any martial art and the techniques you are performing in a combat situation. Certain applications of internal martial arts that are practiced for healing, meditation and relaxation purposes are usually performed really slowly and obviously have not connection with the content of this post.

Speed affects the kinetic energy you produce by a quadratic factor: if you double your speed the kinetic energy grows by 4.  Therefore if you are interested in increasing the damage produced by your punches or kicks you should train for increased speed.  Higher speed can come from higher physical fitness by also by learning how to best coordinating all muscles involved in a technique so they all push with precise timing in a well coordinated direction.

By increasing your speed you are not only ensuring that you can hit your target faster and producing more damage; the technique arrives to its destination in a shorter time therefore it’s ready to go back to its original position much faster, making it ready for the next strike.

Being able to perform a technique or combination at a high speed will allow you to surprise even a very well prepared and skilled opponent.  If you could move one arm or leg 10 or 20 times faster that the average martial artist you would not need very complicated combinations and attacking from many different angles; you could just attack your opponent with that single strike and score, every time.

Training for speed should be a mental as well as physical exercise; muscles are trained to become stronger and therefore release more power but, at the same time, speed should be thought as the main goal when training for it.  For instance keeping your muscles relaxed while training and program yourself to tense just the right ones that are involved in a specific movement will offer maximum efficiency for the muscles involved and minimum dissipation of energy in unnecessary movements.

A training scheme I suggest when coaching somebody with the intent of improving their speed is usually represented by the following list of activities:

  • Relax physically and mentally
  • Think and see the movement you are about to perform
  • Concentrate just on the muscles strictly involved in the movement
  • Consciously relax the remain part of the body
  • Try to tense the muscles in the most explosive movement you can possibly imagine
  • Repeat a few times until it becomes second nature

I am a big fan of speed and, while it can be a function of your fitness, speed can be trained and deliver amazing results.  When can you start?

2 thoughts on “The Importance of Speed in Martial Arts

  1. Hi Massimo

    I would like to add a couple of more components to your formular.

    1. Your closest weapon should attack the nearest target.

    2. Your attacking limb should move in a straight line to the target if possible (Shortest distance).

    3. You should aim to move in a mechanically efficient way.

    4. Correct positioning, good awareness (both of your limbs and body)and honesty about what you actually do in training – should enable you to execute the above points and thus improve your speed greatly.

    Alan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *