Friday, November 1, 2013

Beyond speed

A while ago I wrote about the importance of speed and the role of fast work in training. While in some martial arts and sports this approach to training is taken for granted, in some others it is still a new and uncharted territory, or even a big no-no.

In order to avoid rehashing, I’ll skip right to the main point of this post… Going for, or even getting to, full speed and full contact training does not finalize our path. Simply, the speed in and of itself is by no means be all end all purpose in training. That is, of course, if your are not training solely for competition.

Well then, what is the “missing ingredient”? With regards to the technical development, being able to operate at full speed is actually pretty much the final destination. However, we all know (or at least should be aware) that the technical proficiency is not the entire picture. There is another dimension that affects combative performance to a high degree…

What if he feeds you full speed attacks?
Emotional content. Hmmm, yeah, everybody knows about the importance of mental preparation, what’s the big deal? Please note I did not say “mental”, but used the word “emotional” instead! And that was intentional, since those are different things, albeit closely related.

Without going into detail, the emotional component would include the tactical reasoning, strategically thinking, awareness/alertness of one’s surrounding etc. Another important aspect would be the proper intent in training, which gets us closer to the subject of the article, but still not the same thing.

All of the above, mental aspect do not necessarily have a direct cause and effect kind of impact on the relation between the two adversaries. For example, one fighter being smart and tactical, or highly aware, does not necessarily stir a reciprocal response in the rival. That is, not in any evolutionary kind of manner.

How about one of them?
Emotional content, on the other hand, is hardwired into humankind to cause some kind of emotional response in the other. Probably the price of being a social animal. In practice, it means that if the attacker is intent, deceptive, motivated…strong and fast, but all the while being cool and “poker faced”, the defender will have problems in dealing with the external stimuli and input. But, replace the “cool and calculated” portion with a “mad, foaming at the mouth, grimaced face” attacker, and you have an entirely different paradigm of defense operation, as all those stimuli and input will unavoidably beget the response in internal aspects to deal with as well. 

I guess the difference could be illustrated as full contact sparring session vs. one those adrenal scenario types of work.

Take a look at the short video I made at one of sessions with my own group.

The guy who was defending my attack was chosen for being around for a while (read, knows what thinks to strive for or avoid), and being naturally pretty calm and non-prone to panicking.

In the first part, I was working at an elevated speed, but in a relaxed and unattached manner. In the second (sorry for the brevity, the “cameraman” did not press rec button on time), the speed level was pretty much the same, but I added facial expressions and “sound effects”… Do you see the difference in the defender’s performance? He had no idea what was coming up the second time around, so pay attention to his posture, degree of tension at the shoulders and movement pattern. See how he leans back, stiff in the upper body and retreats almost on the straight line?

I guess it points to further work to be done…