Secrets of Speed, Power and Performance
To truly understand your martial arts you must study the principles. What does this mean exactly? Well it means that you must understand how the body generates speed and power which in turn will lead to a higher performance level in your chosen martial art and for this you must have some knowledge of physics. Most people understand that Mass x Speed equals Power but this is not completely true. There is so much more to be taken into consideration like acceleration, gravity, penetration, body alignment, centrifugal and centripetal forces, angles, momentum, torque, spirals, circles and focusing to the smallest point to name but a few examples.
An example is given here
How does the body generate the power needed for maximum effect and efficiency?
Some of us are lucky to have been born with more FT (fast-twitch) muscle fibres than ST (slow-twitch) muscle fibres this is a genetic thing but you can of course train what you have to make them more functional and fit for your intended purpose.
Having said that even if we train a lot or try to change the make up of the muscle fibres some people will just have more of the one sort that makes them more suited to one sport, even when two people are doing the same training program and or have the same coach the genetic make up of that person will determine their ability and success.
The FT muscle fibres which are needed for high force production activities such as sprinting, jumping, Dead lifting, shot putting but they can tire rather quickly.
ST muscle fibres are more suited to long distance running and cycling and endurance exercises. Now it is obvious that your body is made up of a combination of the FT and ST muscle fibres and in martial arts we will need both, it is no good having explosive power if you tire too quickly and it is no good if you can go the distance but have no power to put somebody down.
Now that we understand about the physical make up of the body what other factors can we control that would make us fast, powerful and effective in our martial arts irrespective of our genetic make up.
“He who hesitates, meditates in a horizontal position” is a statement by Ed Parker calling for the need for prompt, fast action.
A definition of this and I will keep it as simple as possible is neurological visual speed, this is how fast you can react to a stimulus whether it is someone grabbing you or throwing a punch at you or it is just how fast you can sense that someone wishes to do you harm. The type of training that would benefit mental reactions would be something like the light wall which is when you have to touch the various lights on a large wall that come on at various intervals and speeds these are then increased and changed as your mental agility improves. To simplify it again think of whack-a-mole that kids game you play with a hammer as the moles pop up you hit them on the head. If you don’t want to play a kids game (Ha Ha) then pad work training with your partner shouting out the different combinations will increase your mental speed as well as your power and timing and endurance. You will need a good training partner or coach as his/her skills in holding the pads and driving the session will be just as important as you hitting them if you want to gain maximum benefit.
Subconscious reaction response
We are training to speed up the sub conscious response to select the correct action appropriate and proportionate to the incoming threat. This means practising movements over and over again so that when you need to produce them it becomes natural and instinctive without a thought process to hinder your response, it should bypass the thinking brain and be coming straight from the subconscious mind. These actions will only be internalised after constant repetition, repetition, repetition and prolonged effort. Putting repeated actions into your subconscious mind means that you no longer need to think about a response and it will just happen automatically, it will then select the correct response without a thought or options process getting in the way. Just a small warning note make sure that what you learn and the way that you train is effective as when it is in your subconscious it will be difficult to change your reactions, it is not impossible but a lot more difficult. It is a lot easier to do it right in the first place.
There is a saying that goes ‘‘There is no such thing as a young master.’’
Meaning that the Master has failed more times than the student has ever tried.
This is how we make use of the body’s natural energy potential, a simple example of this is if you stand up with locked straight legs then you are going to need to bend your knees in order to move correctly as soon as you bend your knees you have Kinetic potential. Think of a coiled snake ready to inject venom, first it needs to retract and load and then it can expand quickly to strike at it’s prey with maximum speed and power. We call this action in Filipino Kyusho Kinetic loading and it is one of our many principles that we study. Watch a cat move, it always has that potential to move in any given direction and situation making use of it’s natural kinetic energy.
Economy of motion
Don’t telegraph your movements is a lesson I had many years ago from one of my first instructors. Learn not to make unnecessary movements so as not to give away your intentions. Make sure your body is ready but totally relaxed never tense as when you tense you have to relax before you move this of course is counterproductive as opposed to just moving. Striking is done with a relaxed through movement and not just tensing at the point of the impact/target. Nearest available weapon to the nearest available target is another principle we utilise in Filipino Kyusho this means don’t go past a target in order to get to one that you think you should hit, if you can kick him hard in the knee cap with your foot then do it as this will hinder his mobility and resolve to carry on his attack.
Neuron plasticity is the ability of the brain to create new neural pathways or synaptic connections allowing the brain to restructure it’s self in order to perform an action or ability in the most proficient way. This can only be done by constant repetition and performing new tasks that the body has not encountered before. In our martial arts when you learn something new and start to do it reasonably well to me it is now boring and too much in my comfort zone, I now think I need to change it or learn something completely new to encourage these new neural pathways. If you are doing a stick drill or disarms you could change it so you only do it with your left hand. Change every thing, clean your teeth with your less dominant hand, use a mouse on your computer, write with your other hand, this will confuse the brain and it will develop more neurons which in turn will help your creativity to flow and you will then release your full body potential.
In conclusion there are a lot of elements that will determine your Speed, Power and Performance and after 50 years of training (learning) in martial arts I can safely say that it is practice, practice and more practice Oh and did I mention practice?
Train safe, be well, be happy