Sunday, April 01, 2007


My test Friday went fine, and I'm now a bonafide purple belt (san-kyu). Sensei asked me after the test, but before the award of the belt, how I thought I'd done. I answered "Solidly," and he said that was an accurrate description. I didn't miss anything, I didn't make any significant errors, no brain farts, or anything like that.

Unfortunately, "Solid" would also be a good description of what I did wrong. My techniques are good and I have the knowledge I need, but I'm completely lacking in zip. In kumite I'm forever seeing the opening a split second too late to do anything about it - or the technique gets launched, but doesn't get there in time. The only technique I throw with enough pop to surprise anyone is my front-snap kick. I can absolutely pile-drive anybody with my side-thrust - but it's almost invariably too slow to get through. Even my katas show the effects - my husband commented that they looked strong but leaden. The only place it didn't seem to affect me was in self-defense (Ironically the area I was most worried about, but where I did best.) I opted to do the four pre-planned self-defense sequences, and they were smooth, fast and confidant - Sensei had nothing critical to say at all, which is pretty unusual.

I talked to my Dad about this, and he was unsurprised. He mentioned that in his gymnastic days (he was nationally ranked in college), his biggest downfall was a lack of explosive power, which he attributes to a lack of fast-twitch muscle. Now everybody has some fast-twitch and some slow-twitch muscle, but someone with a lot of fast-twitch is going to find it easy to do explosive techniques and be generally quick while having problems with endurance, while somebody with lots of slow-twitch is going to have the opposite - an easy time with endurance work, and difficulties with speed.

So, taking it as a given that I'm going to have to work hard to get decent speed, the question becomes - what do I work hard at? I've ordered a book on speed-training in martial arts, and I'm poking around on the web to see what I can find. I've got some time at least. We have a six-month minimum time-in-rank for purple, so it's at least October before I'm even eligeable to test for brown, and probably more like December or next January. Now I just need to figure out how to train between now and then. The knowledge is easy, and there are only two required new katas (Simple Sai and Chinto), plus I'll probably ask for Tokomine No Kun, just to have something new to work on with bo (I've known Tsu Yoi Bo since orange), so that's not a problem. It's just the dratted speed thing.

Suggestions more than welcome!


Bill said...

I know I developed a good bit of fast-twitch when I was playing table tennis regularly. When I remember improving the most, was when I stopped saying "I could never get that", and going for it anyway - everytime. I would usually miss, but I sometimes surprised myself (and my opponent! :-) ) - and I improved quicker than I would have thought. It is very exhausting though - it easily doubled my exhertion.

Becky said...

Congratulations on your new belt! Good luck in working on your speed.

I wish we had a minimum time in rank. That way one person wouldn't have to wait 8 months for her next rank while another gets promoted after only 2. A minimum time would even things out a bit.

Miss Chris said...

Yea for you! Congrats on the purple!

Silverstar said...

Congratulations on your new belt and don't worry I'm sure the speed will come along. (Its hard to be perfect in all areas) :)

blackbeltmama said...

Congratulations! I feel like i have the same exact problem. My husband recently showed me a work out move to try to help with that. It's supposed to make you more explosive. Using light weights, you squat down and then explode up as fast as you can and then extend your arms above your head and slowly go back down. I know I'm sore after doing it, but I don't know about the speed yet.

PerpetualBeginner said...

Thanks everyone!

I've started a class called TurboKick that has a lot of high-speed kickboxing type moves, plus a lot of bouncing jumping (including a round of the kind of jumps you're describing, bbm). I'll be trying a few other things as well to see what helps and what doesn't.

frotoe said...

awesome!! congratulations!
I'm sure the speed will come. sounds like Turbokick will be a fun class.