I am still reading THE ART OF EXPRESSING THE HUMAN BODY. One subject I keep dwelling on is how Bruce Lee developed his punching speed.
In the book, John Little quotes Lee’s student Dan Inosanto. Dan says that Bruce would train by punching with dumbbells. He would start out empty handed then work his way up to punching with 10 pounds in each hand, then work his way back down to empty hand. The theory is if you can punch fast with weights in your hand, then you will be even better without them.
Just like with anything else in martial arts, this point has been debated. Some people think that, when you punch with weights, you are fighting gravity too much to make it useful. Instead of concentrating on thrusting your hand forward, you also have to worry about keeping the weight level. Otherwise as you punch, your hand will drop due to the weight, which will result in less force behind your technique.
I’ve heard of some people training underwater. This might make a bit more sense…but if you don’t have access to a pool on a regular basis, what are you supposed to do? I guess there’s always going to a lake or something, but if you live where I do, that solution works only until the cold weather comes.
So what to do? Well, I typed “develop wing chun punching speed” into Google, and I found a website for Denver Wing Chun. It has some drills that I think are pretty good. At least, they sound good in theory. I will put them to the test myself at some point.
I will provide the link to the site below. However, at the start I want to post their text on a training tool I forgot about. Reading it now, I can’t believe what a revelation it sounds like!
Striking a piece of paper is an excellent way to improve your speed. All of us should be able to afford a piece of paper! What makes paper such a great tool is the fact that you don’t have the tendency to tighten up as when facing a heavier target. It is only natural when squaring off with a larger target, such as a heavy bag, that the first instinct is to think about hitting as hard as possible. Usually, thinking about hitting hard makes the body tense. Tense, un-relaxed muscles slow you down. It’s like driving your car with the parking brake on. With paper as the target, you can relax and concentrate on speed and form but also the focus you will need. Power should not be an issue.
◦Find a way to hang a piece of paper so that it hangs in front of you. Several sheets of newspaper work well, or possibly, a plastic sheet protector. Stand in front of it and practice your hand strikes. You can use any hand technique that you wish to improve.
◦Once you have got this and the basics can be managed without strength, now add you footwork, hand up and strike the paper.
◦Once you have this down and can get the proper feeling and pop/snap sound while you move now work you ranges into it long range, medium rang, close range. Each should feel different at varying rages. Remember DON’T WIND UP!!
The key to making this work is in the Focus. Focus on the form Make sure your entire body is relaxed prior to initiation ( Hands up always!) you should be able to go from where ever your hands are with out winding up. Upon striking the paper, listen to the sound it makes. You should hear a quick snap. Pay attention to the way it feels when you hit the paper, this does not mean flick the writs, whip the arm just simply punch from the hands up position and “GO”. Practice each punch a couple of hundred times three days a week for a month and I guarantee you will notice a difference.
This seems to be a pretty solid drill. The main source of increased punching speed is relaxed muscles. As they say in this quote, people tend to tense up when faced with a heavy target. It seems like punching paper is a good method until you have learned how to remain relaxed no matter what is in front of you.
To learn more about the drills Denver Wing Chun uses, go here.
As always, feel free to leave comments!