Slow training is fine as a way to learn a new motor skill. It is also a way for beginners to train safely. Finally, it is important for those recovering from injuries as they start training once again. But it can also be a crutch that allows students to feel as if they are really training while they avoid the more intimidating realities of what is contained in the practice.
Imagine that you are sitting behind a clear Plexiglas barrier. If I were to throw a hardball full speed at your face, even knowing the barrier was there, you would have a hard time not blinking or flinching from the on-coming ball. If I were to merely lob the ball at your face, you would almost certainly be able to stare straight at me without so much as blinking. Why is this? Because we have the ability to perceive the amount of energy an object is carrying. We don't have to be hit by the physical object in order to know it is carrying a lot of energy.
So the object in a sense has a column of force that exists in front of the physical object. Just as a plane about to break the sound barrier, that column of force is greater the faster the object is moving.
People who train primarily at slow speed or moderate speed do not develop the ability to handle attacks which come in with speed and strong intention. Their ability to stay relaxed and centered while attempting to meet and redirect the energy of an incoming attack is very limited because they seldom deal with attacks which carry much energy.
I meet students all the time who know how to do all sorts of techniques with great precision. But when you attack them full speed, their energy fields collapse. They are defeated before the physical attack ever touches them. Because they don't train at what is a true full speed for an attack they can't handle even the perception of the power that is incoming, much less the actual physical blow itself.
A large number of students I see use slow training as a way to avoid what is intimidating or potentially painful in learning to deal with full speed attacks delivered with intention. They use the excuse that they are studying the details of the technique, trying to perfect the movement... but somehow, several years later they are still at the same level. Perhaps they are a bit smoother in the execution of their technique but completely unable to do the technique when really attacked.
I am not talking about so-called "real" attacks, the non-traditional attacks many feel are necessary for developing martial competency. I am simply referring to the good old tried and true Aikido attacks. If these are never delivered at full speed and full power by someone who can actually throw a good attack, twenty years of daily slow to medium practice will simply result in a person who cannot do his technique when really attacked.
Last edited by George S. Ledyard : 05-25-2003 at 05:35 AM.