Monday, 22 June 2009

Ways to Develop Speed for Strikes

A few emails recently on the same topic have prompted me to write this post. Speed during punching and the best way to develop it seems to be top in people’s minds at the moment. Maybe a program on Muhammad Ali has been on TV recently that I missed and everyone has become motivated to develop there own hand speed.

Below are my favourite training methods which have proven to be most beneficial for me, in producing speed for strikes. I must point out that as a martial artist, I have always trained many hand techniques which include the basic four boxing punches along side other strikes such as elbows, backfists, knife hand strikes etc. Unless otherwise stated all strikes should be carried out when performing these drills and not just boxing style punches.

Shadow boxing – For me, shadow boxing is good for loosening up at the start of a workout and building a good level of speed during basic training when someone first starts striking. Shadow boxing teaches one to stay relaxed, how to control ones balance whilst moving around and striking and is the best way to quickly find out what techniques come easy and which others need to be worked on. All of this helps one to build up a good level of speed that can then be improved later.

Candle punching – Striking at a lit candle, stopping the strike an inch or two away from the flame with the aim of extinguishing it, is a great way to work not only a speedier punch but a speedier pull back into a guarding position. Once one is able to put the flame out easily, he/she then moves back slightly so as the strike stops further away from the flame, making it harder to put out, forcing a faster strike. This type of training is best for straight strikes and backfists which are snapped back and not swung through the target.

Striking holding weights – By striking whilst holding weights, one is able to strengthen the exact muscles, tendons and ligaments used in each strike. The theory is that if your muscles are stronger they can move faster. Personally the difference in speed which is felt straight away once strikes are thrown after a round or two of striking whilst holding weights, is remarkable. Holding dumbbells are probably the best equipment to use for this although some people prefer to strap weights to their wrists. The best techniques to use for this training method are ones where the fist extends away from the body (straights, hooks, backfists etc ). The effect of holding weights in the hands will not be felt much when performing elbow strikes.

Heavy bag power hitting – For me, I have always found that after striking the heavy bag as hard as I can, I am able to strike (in air) at a very fast pace and am certain that it has helped me produce faster strikes, also, whilst providing one of the best cardiovascular workouts possible.

Red line drill – This is a drill borrowed from Chuck Norris’s Winning Tournament Karate book, and during my training, this has been most effective in producing speed. It forces one to push past boundaries. There are 4 steps to the drill. Step 1 involves half a minute of repeating a single technique or combination at a slow pace, with half a minute rest after. During step 2, the same technique/s is/are performed but slightly faster, for the same amount of time with the same rest period. On step 3, again they are performed but as fast as possible, again for the same amount of time with the same rest period. Step 4 is the red line phase. They are performed again but at a speed faster than you thought was your fastest. Technique goes out the window here and movement is very sloppy. That is fine since the aim is to just move faster than before. After the same rest period, the technique is then performed again but at a slower pace, concentrating on form so as to not become sloppy. The red line drill is tough and should be performed only a couple of times a week so as one has a chance to recover properly.

Like I said, these training methods worked best with me for producing speed but may not be for you. Experiment with them if you wish and see how you get on. Alternatively if you have your own training methods that have helped you, leave a comment describing them.


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Elias said...

Thanks for this, this is one of the things i need to improve on =D

Urban Samurai said...

Good post with some sound advice. I remember reading Geoff Thompson's book on weight training for martial artists and i think he said using weights in this manner for speed is actually detrimental to progress. I can't remember the exact reason he gave for this, I shall have to find the book and check.

The red line drill sounds pretty effective. It's the first time I have heard of this. I'll have to try it out for myself.

Personally I prefer the heavy bag to train on. It's great for developing all aspects of your technique, including speed.

MARKS said...

ELIAS - These drills and exercises have worked for me, hopefully they do the same for you.

URBAN SAMURAI - The red line drill was one of the earliest drills i picked up and have always thought of it as very effective.

I have also heard some say that weight punching does not work, however, for myself it has always been effective for boosting speed. Thanks for your comment.

Urban Samurai said...

I also believe the same about the weight punching. I used to use the ankle weights for kicking and they made a real difference to kicking speed. You know how it is when someone with the authority of Thompson says something, you tend to take them at their word because you think they know what they are talking about. Obviously this isn't always the case.

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