All of a Sudden: A Brief Lesson on Speed

Initial Speed is an endless topic. It is a transformation of a moment. Initial Speed leaves your opponent still reacting to what is past. There are endless ways to acquire Initial Speed by eliminating the useless. Initial Speed is a marriage of the extremes. External keypoints may include posture, an alignment of the structure, the task to be performed, and trained tendons. The Internal fine points end up being a series of precise adjustments. Once they are acquired, they become nearly invisible and yet intensely personal to your unique needs. All training tips and feedback finalize, with hints and alignments necessitating a good deal of analysis. Expect to be surprised.

Initial Speed, in its most perfected form just…disappears, leaving the opponent trying to assemble what is already a lost opportunity. Speed is a marriage of all elements and, at this level, Initial Speed demands everything to be simultaneous.                      

External attention gives you posture, goal, balance, positioning. Internal attention adds your anticipation of the initial explosion, then the absence of presence. It’s a little like Lucky Luciano telling one of his disfavored henchmen to, “Be missing.” Internal and External, everything is connected with every thing, each checking each other.

Initial Speed is not a “sneaky” method. It is, ultimately, pure mechanics and balanced interior.

It’s like searching for the perfect golf swing, except rather than a few variations there are many, each waiting its turn. This is the difference between practice and performance. The training methods for this skill, too, are fulsome.  One of my favorites — accessing your own inherent speed — is what I call Reversing. It is easy to learn (though hard to perfect), and is based firmly on the fact that muscles contract.

In this training, extend your hand, palm down and about neck height, to a normal end position. Relax. Imagine a partner grabbing your arm.  Now pull your arm back to your chest, to a cocked position.

This is the movement. Now do it again, but this time, from the extended arm position, snatch the arm to cocked position as rapidly as possible. Relax, try to pull back lightly and precisely, but with maximum speed. Although you are pulling back the extended arm and hand, imagine the retraction is that of a of a rubber band, or something stretched, returning to its natural shape. Do again. Lift. Hold. Pull back. It’s not as easy as it looks. Repetitions will bestow more speed.

Don’t smack yourself — the landing should be swift but soft; anywhere on the torso is fine. This pull-back retraction speed is the natural programing of our species with the wisdom to FLEE whenever the opportunity presents itself.  With this approach, the almost immediate (retraction) speed increase will augment your actual initial speed.

Again: get ready, extend, then go like the wind. Get used to this because you will find that retraction speed often beats almost any other technique. This survival method keeps us safe from car doors smashing our hands, hot stoves burning our fingers, and tree limbs smashing our faces. It is so instinctive that you might not even SEE that branch until after you have recoiled from it.

At this point, perform a little consciousness magic. Take a relaxed stance. Bring your intent to your relaxed arm, maybe hanging at your side. Now imagine the danger — say, the car door about to slam — that demands you shoot your arm out and away from your body, with exactly the action contained in the earlier stage of retraction. You are literally linking your imagination to your explosive moment. Don’t hurry. Wait until you feel like it wants to strike. It will come.

Your body may be startled by this exercise and even cramp a muscle.  Just wait for a few seconds each time, then strike out with the same altered speed.

It is an old secret that, for ultimate performance, the brain needs to take a back seat to our older and wiser natural programming. In the early stages of mastering a move, the brain should analyze. Once action starts, critique is suspended. Opinions can be disasters, hesitation unfixable.  


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