Before I began to write this article I was searching for the differences in meaning between fast and quick. To my amazement, the dictionary says that they are synonymous in meaning. In the martial arts or combat sports, they are not the same, especially quickness. Being quick means delivering a technique with explosive speed. Fast is speed without the explosiveness. The former should be the goal of any combat sport devotee. There is a recipe to cook explosiveness and these are the ingredients: learning the movement or technique thoroughly. The second ingredient: the components of speed, like relaxation, timing, perceived speed, delivery speed and of course strength.
At the beginning stages of learning any new technique, the teacher must emphasize the importance of how the body moves before, during and after the technique. A very keen eye is necessary to see both internal and external mistakes the student makes. If these are not corrected early, speed can be hampered because unnecessary movements tend to be added that are not part of the original technique. In my case, once my students know the steps involved I highly recommend performing according to their own physiology, therefore, they move more efficiently.
Before performing the task at hand, you must relax the muscles involved in its execution. If you are throwing a reverse punch or a cross as in boxing, the shoulders, hips and rear leg need to work together creating one single force going forward. If any or all the muscles are too tense, you end up being smacked in the middle of throwing your right. That’s why it’s good idea to combine relaxation and timing together. Once you’ve committed yourself to attack, make sure that you are not too far or too close to strike. Your timing determines just that. Another thing that you can do to make your delivery faster is to improve your perception speed. In other words, how fast you see the opening and how fast you take advantage of that moment.
Lastly, let’s talk about strength in relation to being fast and quick. Once the student learns the mechanics of the technique, the timing is beautiful, your perception speed is marvelous, and your delivery is impeccable. You are only fast, but you are not quick yet. You need to add strength to the strike. Through resistance training the muscles involved in the movements become stronger. This means stronger contraction of muscles which adds to the take off of the limb being used, so to speak. A word of caution, resistance training can add tension to muscles, tendons and ligaments, so always stretch before and after working out. When I talk about resistance training, I’m speaking about weight training, calisthenics, plyometrics, water training and any other type of training which adds resistance to muscles. Always consult a physician before embarking in strenuous exercise and experiment with the suggestions above to see where they take you.
Rosendo Lopez began his Tae kwon Do training in 1990. He has a vast background in meditation, yoga and wellness. He is also the founder of http://www.theyinyangselfcenter.com. He incorporates boxing, weight training and yoga to Tae Kwan Do practice. He is finalizing a book title, The Trinity of Fitness.