The illusion of speed



Huk Planas talks quite a bit about point of origin and how not winding up into huge stance for a punch for example can give the illusion of speed.

Doreen Cogliandro spoke quite well at the last O.K.K.A. seminar about speeds, such as perceptual, mental and physical.

The question is, can speed be learned and if so can one learn it to the point that it ruins a technique?

What do you think?
Yes, speed can most definitely be learned. I think what most of the martial arts "greats" are referring to when they say illusion of speed is economy of motion. These are the things that can be learned that greatly improve your speed. And, yes I think that speed can kill a technique if incorrect principles are being replaced for raw speed.
Originally posted by GouRonin

Huk Planas talks quite a bit about point of origin and how not winding up into huge stance for a punch for example can give the illusion of speed.

This sounds like an economy of motion issue and a reaction time issue and I think that "illusion of speed" is an apt name for it.

Can speed be learned? In the sense above, yes; in the narrower, physical attribute sense it can certainly be improved.

I am reminded of the following quote from the Clint Eastwood movie Unforgiven:
Little Bill Daggett: Look son, being a good shot, being quick with a pistol, that don't do no harm, but it don't mean much next to being cool-headed. A man who will keep his head and not get rattled under fire, like as not, he'll kill ya. It ain't so easy to shoot a man anyhow, especially if the son-of-a-***** is shootin' back at you.

I wish they had the full quote, actually.
Speed can't be learned....... we all have it to some degree...... but it can be "developed" and "regulated" for whatever purpose we choose.


I think you can get too fast with a technique to the point of just grazing targets instead of actually hitting with power.


Dead Motion. (Terminology????)

When working technique lines we are exposed to many different methods of execution. I have one class mate who can be a very difficult attacker to practice against using the very first techniqe for yellow belt.

He begins moving forward before he executes his straight right punch, then all of a sudden his hand is on top of your nose.

It is similar to the aircraft taking off of an aircraft carrier. The plaine is in motion onboard the carrier and then the plane goes into motion on top of the already moving carrier. Those on the ship with the plane may not realize it is already in motion, before it begins to move on the deck.

The two motions are combined adding to the total velocity of the plane when it reaches the end of the carrier runway.

Hope this makes sense. :asian:


Originally posted by Goldendragon7

Speed can't be learned....... we all have it to some degree...... but it can be "developed" and "regulated" for whatever purpose we choose.


What about the different aspects of speed, mental, percepual, physical? These things cannot be learned? I new nothing of mental or percepual speed before my kenpo training. Maybe this is what you mean by developing? Sorry, I don't mean to come across like I'm confronting you about your knowledge of kenpo in any way, just looking for clarification. :asian:
I would also like to learn more about the theory behind the mental, physical, and perceptual aspects of speed! Anyone have some leads to any more information?
I think we have all seenthe guy who moves so fast when he is punch and kicking tha the is a blur. Like it was said at the OKKA camp people who over ruch the technique are usually trying to cover up poor technique. I think we have all be guilty of trying to do a technique too fast in the past, it just becomes ineffective with too much speed.

I have seen many people increase their physical speed by learning proper mechanics. as for the perceptual andmental speed I am not certain as to whether they can be increased. I am quite curious to see where this thread leads.
I think too much emphasis is placed on speed too soon.
That's a large appeal of our art. I got elbowed in the chin by
a white belt, cause he just wants to be fast. Wasn't it a famous
kenpoist who said, "Do it a thousand times slow, before you do
it one time fast" ?
There is an old line from the 70's Speed Kills, it meant the drug but speed also kills your technique if you go too fast for yourself.
Originally Posted By: Rob Broad
There is an old line from the 70's Speed Kills, it meant the drug but speed also kills your technique if you go too fast for yourself.

Betcha my "fast" is slower than your "slow".

Have any of you high ranked guys end up having to work out,
at a seminar or something with a lower ranked guy? Did it
drive ya nuts?
What if the attacker was so slow and you were so fast that you blocked and overextended before the attack even reached it's target, then you got hit anyway?

How fast you have to be depends on the attack. You only have to be a bit quicker than that attack. With that in mind train your fastest WITH proper technique and then you can throttle or control the speed to meet the attack.

If you meet somebody faster than you.....RUN. and hope they are not faster in a footrace also.

Ok, 1st to Cory, (then to TuneTigress and Rob) in terms of learning raw speed you can't "learn" it. It is just there. You CAN learn how to identify and study different aspects of it, and how to regulate it, read on for more clarification.

SPEED -- is a primary ingredient of skill which must be coupled with accuracy. Although this combination takes precedence over power, speed can contribute greatly to increasing power.
Speed can be obtained by:
a. relaxing -- tensing only during the time of contact;
b. executing direct moves -- using the shortest, safest and most
effective path contributes to economy of motion;
c. maintaining a continuous flow of motion -- no lapses or
hesitation between moves;
d. rounding off the corners of angular moves -- do not stop one
action to start another unless resistance forces you to do
so; and
e. explode with your action using proper breathing methods.

To understand Kenpo techniques and how they function, you must have knowledge of physics. It is the study of our body and how our senses, through the use of mathematical laws, theories, concepts and principles of mass, speed, body alignment, angles, body momentum, gravitational marriage, rotating force (torque), focus, stability, power, penetration, etc., can make our body function intuitively. An in-depth study of these theories, concepts, and principles of physics will also reveal the sophisticated basics that are contained within embryonic basics.

"He who hesitates meditates in a horizontal position", is a statement I use to imply the need for prompt action. It is a statement referring to terms related to speed. "Do it now", "I want it done this instant", "be prompt", "you'd better be fast", "be quick about it", "you must do it rapidly", "it depends upon the swiftness of your action", are terms that imply speed, or
act to hasten velocity irrespective of direction or dimension.

As we study these terms we learn that they are concepts related to distance and time. By definition speed is equal to the distance divided by the time (s=d/t) it takes to act or move.

Speed, however, goes beyond the definitions described. Like the Eskimo who uses a number of terms to describe the types of snow, we, too, must distinguish and categorize speed to make it meaningful to the Kenpo enthusiast. There are three categories of speed perceptual, mental, and physical (body performance). However, although categorized separately in order to analyze what speed entails, they nevertheless function as one.

Perceptual speed is the quickness of the senses to monitor the stimulus that it receives, determine the meaning of the stimulus, and to swiftly convey the perceived information to the brain so that mental speed can parlay the response. To the Kenpoist, it is the feel or smell of trouble, a sound that detects trouble, a sign or gesture that suggests trouble, seeing the incoming strike, the inviting opening, or the opportunity to attack or counterattack. Speed of this type can be increased by maintaining alertness and by conditioning the senses to harmonize with environmental awareness (see Volume I, Chapter 11).

Mental speed is the quickness of the mind to select appropriate movements to effectively deal with the perceived stimulus. Speed of this type, however, can only be increased by practicing the various aspects of Kenpo techniques on a regular basis. This involves learning the techniques to a point of total familiarity and instinctive response (mental speed) in nullifying the threat. As you broaden your knowledge of alternatives and can conceptualize the random answers that exist in your subconscious mind, your instinctive response (mental speed) increases proportionately when it is triggered by the perceived stimulus.

Physical speed (body performance) is the promptness of physical movement the fluency in response to the perceived stimulus. In Kenpo, it is the speed of the actual execution of a technique. Speed of this type can be increased through stretching, body conditioning, and other proper methods of training. Stretching exercises help to increase elasticity which automatically develops reach. Body conditioning prevents fatigue and allows body speed to function for longer periods of time. Knowledge of the principle of economy of motion also contributes to speed. It avoids erroneous angles, and teaches you how to administer your strength (power) in obtaining the most for your efforts in the shortest possible time. This principle (1) stresses the importance of being relaxed when striking tensing only at the moment of impact, (2) makes one aware that time is crucial, (3) uses movements that follow direct angles and paths, (4) eliminates telegraphing unless used as a means of deceptive strategy; teaches (5) continuity, flow, and motion rhythm (a topic that needs further elaboration), (6) to respond from wherever your natural weapons are located at the time of combat (point of origin), no matter what your, or your opponent's, body position may be at the time; (7) target accessibility and the distance, or range, that exists between your opponent's targets and your natural weapons, (8) the time it will take to get to the target of your choice, and (9) to also consider the speed of your opponent's action or reaction when analyzing economy of motion. A concluding note while body speed often enhances power, it is without doubt not the root of power. Synchronization of body mass and speed are two of the major ingredients that add to creating power.

"Speed" is one of the key ingredients in your development. The quote, "To beat action, meet action." confirms the merits of the use of speed. It is important, therefore, that speed be stressed in all of the material. While developing coordination on both left and right sides, and the stressed fluidity and continuity of motion; all the material capitalizes on speed.

Remember! Do not be enticed to advance your study of the art prematurely. When you learn a new idea, you are responsible for developing it to an acceptable level before graduating to another plateau of learning. The amount of time and work you put into it is up to you, but the results must satisfy the standards. Therefore, practice with understanding. Know the how, what, and why of what you practice.

The proper application of Kenpo that requires more dedicated effort on your part. You must develop a positive and unconquerable attitude, become more persistent, constantly aware of detail, more flexible, quicker, stronger, more intense, as well as assert greater control of your emotions. You must be realistic in your approach, and be able to apply your art with maximum effectiveness.

Your basics should reflect your basic understanding of the concepts and principles of technique movement. Mentally, physically, and emotionally your actions should be Directionally Harmonized. When executing your Forms, you should move with speed and clarity of motion. There should be no "mumbled motion". Your attitude should be confident and inspiring.

When Freestyling apply your moves with continuity and speed. Internalized with a positive and unconquerable attitude, you should be able to destroy your opponent's foundation and confidence with intimidating ease. Periodically re-examine your basics. Do not take them for granted. Review the topics that comprise your Eight Considerations. Analyze, understand, and apply them when sparring. Develop solutions to sparring situations against multiple attackers.

Similar to all your material, major emphasis will be attached to self-defense techniques. Add new Techniques into your Web of Knowledge, and Family Groupings. Additionally, re-examine the suffixing of all your techniques and try to advance them to new coordination levels that fit you. You will learn to fill Dead Space during your Sequential Flow of action, by inserting other Words of Motion. This should teach you to construct more sophisticated Sentences and Paragraphs of motion. Sophistication requires review. Dedicate many hours working your Belt techniques. Analyze them from Three Points of View. Refine their themes by continually drilling the principles contained in each move. Once you feel the effectiveness of each IDEAL PHASE, practice the SECOND and THIRD PHASES of each technique.

Learn to combine realism with effective self-defense methods. Get into the spirit of the technique and encourage your partner to get into the spirit of the attack. Grasp the principles associated with each move, and learn to tailor them to your own distinctive capabilities. As you learn to tailor, you learn to become innovative. As variables become routine, appropriate responses become second nature and spontaneous. Such responses may be necessary in the street where a surprise attack may delay your ability to examine all of the possible options. Only instinctive responses, developed through logical training methods and conditioning, provide the proper transfer of knowledge required in these situations.

Logic as it applies to the times is your key to success, and
speed is one logical component that makes it all effective.

:asian: :soapbox: :asian:
Originally posted by Kirk

Betcha my "fast" is slower than your "slow".

Have any of you high ranked guys end up having to work out,
at a seminar or something with a lower ranked guy? Did it
drive ya nuts?

The camp I was at a couple of weeks ago I worked all weekend in the beginner class, just to brush up on my basics, it was funny a bunch of white, yellow and orges belts and then me and anothe black belt in the class working on stance set or delayed sword. I heard the advanced group banging on each other but I was there refresh my skills and it was amazing. I can imagine there were a couple people in the other classin over their heads but they let their pride get the better of them. By working everthing a little slower i could see common flaws and pin point power principles.
Originally posted by Robbo

nice post!!
why didn't one of us just say that in the first place :)

You have to tell us which post there are so many little side converstaions going on in the threads that you have to be specific.
Many thanks to you, Goldendragon7! That is precisely the information I was hoping someone would post! I appreciate the time you took to explain the theory of speed with such clarity.
Timing and proper rhythm are more important than speed, but they do not enhance the power of the strikes. Power is generated by solid mechanics and a stable base.

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