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Old 08-18-2008, 01:20 PM   #11
Keith Larman
Dojo: AIA, Los Angeles, CA
Location: California
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,604
Re: speed: good question from kohai

One thing I've come to think is that it isn't the speed that matters. To give an example is to compare the person speeding along the freeway, zigzagging through traffic. Jumping off the freeway at the first sign of slowness, then getting back on when it seems to be moving again. In the end they don't tend to get to their destination any faster, but they went faster at times and certainly did some rather stupid things.

This is really an echo of the markman's creed of slow is smooth, smooth is fast as already mentioned. Speed is a product of rigorously well done technique.

How many have come up to train with someone who is older, not in the best shape, but who still seems to be able to outmaneuver you? There is a good example of the idea. Efficiency of movement with a proper end result is only possible if the movements are perfect. The positioning perfect. The progression perfect. The better the waza the less extra "stuff" that is needed to pull things off.

Where do folk think the notion of "effortless" movement comes from? It isn't really effortless but it is all about efficiency and what is ultimately the expression of elegant form. And while they seem "fast" in some sense, they're not really moving all that fast. They're just not wasting any time with superfluous motion or extraneous movement. It just happens.

Of course you could just try to go faster. But what usually happens there with some is that the high speed is really there to mask poor technique. Some people who train this way try to close openings in their waza by going faster than someone else can exploit them. But that to me isn't a proper solution to the problem. Because if they can do it properly without the opening to begin with there is no necessity to speed it up. And if they do it with efficiency and elegance it is faster because less time is wasted.

So to me it is all about learning to do it well. Speed comes naturally when it is time to go fast. In other words, the ability to do things at "full speed" is really an expression of having internalized the basics so well that you simply can do it at full speed. So you can't teach speed -- it is a something that becomes possible as a result of proper, rigorous, focused training. You don't train for speed, you simply get good enough to be able to do it fast...

In training "full speed" is done to push at the limits of your waza. And when you bang into those limits you need to slow down and fix whatever caused you to bang into them in the first place. It isn't the speed that is the problem but the basics underlying all of your skills.

So how much? More now than 10 years ago. And I certainly enjoy training at full speed given where I'm at today in my training. But I don't see how one can really come up with any measure as things vary so much...

Just my $.02.

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