Speed

A correspondent asks (referring to a video he saw online) just how important it is to approximate the incredible speed of successive strikes that the martial arts master whom he saw was able to demonstrate. For visitors who may be interested in seeing this themselves, the Instructor is a gentleman by the name of John La Tourrette. We checked out the video and, indeed, this gentleman delivers a most rapid succession of strikes!

We do not know Mr. La Tourrette personally, and so we will not make any comments about him. According to that which we saw, his primary art is kenpo-karate, and his grading in this Art came from the late Ed Parker.

Regarding speed. Our personal belief is that speed is of course extremely important in close combat, and every student should strive to cultivate speedy delivery of his techniques. We don’t honestly believe, however, that speed should be cultivated at the expense of other necessary technical attributes. Power is very important. Accurate placement of whatever blows are being delivered so that they do the most damage, is important. (In other words, hit vital spots, if at all possible). Retaining balance while attacking or counterattacking is important. Taking the enemy by surprise is important.

So, we advise students to work incessantly on the cultivation of balance when it comes to delivery of skills against an adversary. Strive to be as fast as possible, as powerful as possible, as accurate as possible, while remaining solidly balanced from a physical standpoint, for continual attack/defense, and take the enemy by surprise whenever possible.

We certainly appreciate the speed with which Mr. La Tourrette is capable of striking. We cannot help but feel that, were he to deliver fewer blows with greater power in each blow, the series of hits would be more formidable against an actual attacker. For example: Mike Tyson does not hit as speedily as Mr. Tourrette (though he certainly hits with speed). We believe that getting hit once by Mr. Tyson would likely be more devastating and destructive than getting hit with a much faster flurry of blows by someone like Mr. Tourrette whose speed is extreme.

We do not say these things to denigrate or minimize the ability of Mr. La Tourrette or any of his students (who, presumably, are also very fast in delivering their actions). We are simply offering our view of the matter.

It is important to remember that physical speed, like every other attribute, diminishes as one grows older. This makes it very important not to be overly-reliant upon one pet attribute; which would leave you with nothing else as that attribute wanes. It also, in our opinion, underscores the necessary focus on developing the surprise attack, and on never relinquishing the element of surprise when working on one’s technical skills. A slower technique that catches the enemy completely by surprise will likely be more effective in paving the way to victory over him than would a much faster technique that he is able to anticipate.

We hasten also to add this: Speed is always facilitated by directness and simplicity of movement. A front kick to the testicles is faster than a spinning reverse heel kick. And when you are in your 60’s, we might add, is a helluva lot more likely to be possible to you!

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