May 23, 2024



Unorthodox Ways of Speed Training by Grand Master Paul C Holley

Unorthodox Ways of Speed Training by Grand Master Paul C Holley

I don’t know how many times over the past five decades someone says:
“Wow, you are Fast!” Then they say, I wish I was that fast or I wish I could move like that.

Everyone believes your speed is genetic, but the truth is that you can train to be fast and today I am going to share with you a few ways that I use to improve speed.

I was not very fast when I began my martial arts journey in March 1967 and had to learn to get faster. Most important thing is to learn your techniques properly and even though this is very contradictory to the subject of speed, you must practice them slowly as you perfect them!

This creates muscle memory and is crucial in performing your techniques with great speed. I still practice my techniques in a Tai Chi slow relaxed motion which helps your slow twitch muscles create a path for your fast twitch muscles to follow when performing with speed. Being relaxed will result in less resistance to your muscles being used. In a nutshell, you will be faster when you are relaxed.

Most trainers think you need to use speed bags or other equipment to develop speed and it is very useful and will help develop your speed but, truthfully there are some unorthodox methods to develop your speed. I have used all the following over the decades.

1, Catching the Coin Drill: A Hand Eye Coordination Speed Drill                                                       

First start off in Horse / Riding Stance with both hands on your hips with a Quarter in one hand. Toss the quarter in the air and when it stops and starts to fall, grab it with your opposite hand. Repeat on opposite side. Start out with Ten Repetitions on each side and add more as you progress. Then do the drill in different stances and while moving. When you feel comfortable enough, you can have a partner toss the quarters at you to grab.                                                                                                                                                    

  1. Ball Drill: A Fun Drill with Cardio

First start off in a Horse / Riding Stance with one hand on your hip and the other hand holding a small soft ball. Toss the ball into the air and as soon as the ball stops and starts to fall, catch the ball with the other hand. Repeat on both sides at least five times and build up to more repetitions. After that start punching the ball. Then you do the same speed drill with different striking techniques. When ready, you can start doing drill in different stances, doing it with kicks and while moving around. You can also use two and three balls to get in multiple techniques. You will get plenty of cardio with this drill retrieving the ball(s).  For a more advanced drill have a partner throw the ball at you so you can use your techniques on an incoming object. Then move on to two or three partners throwing balls at you.

  1. Television Frame Drill: A Home Time Speed Drill

First Start off in a Horse / Riding Stance with both hands on your hips. While watching your television, do a punch every time the frame changes on the program you are watching. As with the ball drill, you can start using other striking, blocking, and kicking techniques. This is a very hard eye hand coordination speed drill but is effective in developing speed as the frame can change on television in a second or less.

  1. Five Second Powder Drill: Number of Strikes Done Speed Drill
     (You will need a cell phone stop watch or another type of timing device and a heavy bag) Cover your hands with some type of powder that won’t stain and can be cleaned up easily. set the stopwatch for 5 seconds. Hit the heavy bag as many times as you can in five seconds. Do this drill whenever you can. Eventually you will notice you are getting more hits. You may also replace the heavy bag with a partner to strike and eventually two or three partners may be used. Use care when striking your partner(s).
  2. Attacker Speed Drill: Partner Attacking Speed Drill
    Start off in any stance you wish. Decide what your partner is going to attack you with then have them attack you and you counter attack as fast as you can. Repeat as many times as you are both comfortable with. Do different attack and counter methods as fast as you both can with control. You can then have Multiple partners attack you and you counter attack them as fast as you can. Have someone use a stopwatch to time your counter attacks. Be careful as this drill is more lifelike.
  • We also learned the Trap Drill: A Real Speed Trap Drill (Only For Hardcore Dedicated Students)                              

We nailed wooded spring mouse traps to the wall and put pieces of foam on the trap and had to finger whip the foam and get our hand back to our chest before the trap snapped closed. Eventually we attached grapes to them and had to snatch the grape with our fingers before it snapped shut. We graduated using big heavy duty rat traps when we were black belts.

There were a few more speed drills I learned to keep my speed up.

As we age, we get less flexible, muscle weakness, and yes slower. But, using some of these drills can help keep your speed up. I will be 66 years old on June 5th and even though I have lost some of my speed, I am still quick for my age.  I practice slow and use speed when demonstrating or defending.

About the author: Paul C. Holley is a multi-arts Grandmaster and the Director of the State of New York for the USA Hapkido Union and owner of Family Martial Arts Club in Panama, New York. Phone: (716) 487-7296

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