Go Slow, To Go Fast
In most of our classes I have to remind students repeatedly to slow down. Too many of them are trying to move fast, thinking fast movement would make up for any flaws in the technique. While partially true, in the learning stages it is probably the worst thing you can do. The better approach is to move at slower speeds, speeds that allow you to recognize the situation, recall the right choices and then execute them smoothly.
We break movement speeds down to slow, half and full speed. While you will want to execute your actions, tactics or movements at full speed in real life combat, trying to do so during training will give you a a false sense of security. Folks will come to believe that sporadic success is a good thing. Well, it is not. Flawless execution is what leads to consistent success. You need to really soak that up, flawless execution. So, how do we get to that flawless execution? It starts by slowing things down during the learning stages. Performing your movements at what we call slow speed. You have to be able to see the individual steps, then chain them together. I cannot emphasis the importance of attention to details. In the learning stages you really can only see these details when you slow things down.
Once you have the details hammered out, then we move up to half speed for practice. It is assumed you have developed a high level of proficiency with the skill during the learning stages at slow speed. When you can perform with minimal mistakes you start to see your speed increase. That speed is masqueraded as efficiency. The more efficient you are, the faster it feels. Half speed is pretty much where you really hone your skills. You have to take great pains during the learning stages to do it until you cannot do it wrong. This level of discipline pays off by allowing you to divert some of your focus away from the actual skill. You begin to reap the benefits of the learning stages, albeit with some setbacks, but you can still see the progress being made.
Full speed I reserve for full contact or real combat. You obviously need to move fast, but not so fast that you are all over the place. When you move at that breakneck speed you are more than likely going to make mistakes. As I mentioned earlier some of the mistakes can be made up, but others cannot. You really cannot shoot fast enough to make up a miss. The key to full speed movements is creating the correct neural pathways through the learning and practice stages, so in the application stages you literally are moving as fast as the situation allows. The major takeaway is movement at this speed does not feel fast. It feels “right” and that is the difference.
The Racetrack Analogy
How fast is that, well think of it in terms of driving on a non-oval racetrack, an asymmetrical landscape. If the end result is to get to the finish line as fast as possible it probably will not be helpful if you run off the track. If you try to take a curve so fast you loose control and end up off track you probably won’t make it before someone else gets to the finish line. All you’ve done is add time, time to get back on track. If you allow the situation to dictate your speed and apply your skills under those conditions you will see greater success and fewer mistakes.
Don’t be a slave to speed, don’t let speed pull the wool over your eyes. Speed cannot make up a mistake or poor skill development.