Thoughts on Combat: Deliberately slowing down

They say that speed is king. I agree. Up to a point, that is. Speed is good to have but I’ve seen the slower fighter take home victory on more than one occasion. Even for the faster guy, there’s a better way than just going 100% all the time. I believe that most of the time in training (unless you’re specifically training for speed) and combat, you should move well below your speed limits. This might contradict common sense at first glance, but let me get into this a bit.

First off, I’m a huge believer when it comes to mixing things up. That being said, I think that having two ways to go is better than being stuck with one, especially when it comes to speed and rhythm. If all you do is move at top speed all the time (which you can’t and shouldn’t do, anyhow, as I’ll explain later on), all you can do to surprise your opponent is to slow down. Nothing bad with that, really – sometimes, lower the pace of the game might be just what you need. Also, pausing for half a beat from time to time, hence breaking your own rhythm, might just allow you to score where you would normally just have hit the other guy’s guard. Still, sometimes you need to speed up, either during a combination (again, to strike with a broken rhythm) or to push the pace and go for a finish. By keeping your standard pace somewhere around 70%-80%, you always keep a certain reserve that you can exploit when needed.

Speaking of pace, keeping your speed below what you can actually do will keep you from gassing out. That way, when the time has come to finish your opponent, you can actually push the pace and force him to keep up. Once he can’t, he’s yours. Aside from physiology, there’s an biomechanical aspect to be considered, too. As Pfeiffer [1] explains in his book, maximum striking power can only be developed around 2/3 of your maximum speed. [Ronny], my friend and mentor, has always called this the „80% rule“, although his rationale for advising against max speed was a bit different from Pfeiffer’s.

All the above said is important – at least I believe it to be – but there’s a strategic consideration not yet undertaken. You see, how you win one fight comes down to technique, speed, power and tactics. Strategy, on the other hand, goes far beyond that. Rather than looking at individual fights, as yourself how you’re going to be fighting 10 years from now. How about 20 years? At some point, you’ll get slower. That’s just the way nature works. Still, when you look at [this list of UFC fighters], you’ll notice that especially in the heavier weight divisions, an advanced age (for sports standards) doesn’t necessarily contradict success. Once you reach a certain age, your opposition will be younger and faster than you. At that point, you better had learned to fight a faster man. Of course, this takes a tremendous level of skill and experience. If you start building up that skill only once you get too slow to win by relying on your speed, you’ll spend quite some time losing. Hence, deliberately moving slower while you can speed up will benefit you in the long term.

Just some semi-random thoughts of mine, what do you think? I’m looking forward to reading your comments,

so long,

take care

[1] „Mechanik und Struktur der Kampfsportarten: Handbuch für Trainer in Kampfsport und Kampfkunst“, Ralf Pfeiffer, 2006, Sportverlag Strauß

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