Most fighters overlook alteration speed. But, if you are a serious speed student, you will develop this valuable safeguard.
Alteration speed involves the ability to quickly change directions in the midst of movement. Essentially, it involves control of balance and inertia.
Alteration speed is invaluable during those moments when an opponent offsets your timing or precision and you find yourself on the defensive end of a ferocious attack. Alteration speed also enhances your speed hampering ability by making it easier to break your opponent’s rhythm, because you are able to control your own rhythm more effectively.
With good alteration speed, you can initiate an attack, perceive the opponent’s counter, alter your movement accordingly, and effectively counter the opponent’s original counterattack. When two highly skilled fighters face off, this complete exchange can take place in a split second.
Dynamic balance is simply the ability to throw your center of gravity beyond the base of support, chase it, and never let it get away.
To instantly improve your combat balance, follow these guidelines:
1. Keep your center of gravity low.
2. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
3. Keep your weight on the balls of the feet.
4. Keep your knees slightly bent at all times.
Some stances found in the martial arts are unrealistic for real combat. They are not active and natural. As a guide, you should avoid stances that feel stiff, weak, rigid, or uncomfortable. We are not tigers, snakes, eagles, or butterflies. We are humans. We have to discover the best fighting positions for our particular design. It is imperative that you learn to adapt and maintain a dynamic fighting position that will facilitate non-telegraphed and explosive movements.
Maintaining the optimum fighting position requires a high level of kinesthetic perception. This is the faculty that allows you to feel variation in muscle contraction and relaxation. As discussed earlier, the only way to develop this faculty is to place the body in different positions and become highly sensitive to how tense or relaxed you feel in these positions.
You are looking for the position that makes you feel most relaxed and will allow you to explode in a split second. As a starting point, use a boxer’s stance. You can try lowering your head, raising your lead hand, dropping your shoulder slightly, turning your knees in slightly, etc. You goal is to achieve a relaxed and natural feeling of alertness in your body.
Once you have attained a feeling of relaxation in your basic fighting position, you can use it as a constant guide to your body as it moves. You want to progress from static kinesthetic perception to dynamic kinesthetic perception.
Dynamic Balance Drills
The following drills will develop your dynamic kinesthetic perception. With training, you will instinctively and consistently position your body in a way that facilitates fluid movement with minimal effort.
Blind Shadow Fighting
If you practice blind shadow fighting regularly, you will quickly notice an improvement in your dynamic balance.
Start by finding an open area where you will not injure yourself. Close your eyes. Assume your comfortable fighting position. Now, visualize a menacing opponent in front of you. Imagine him attacking you. You respond with the perfect counter and the flow keeps going. Throw knees and kicks to challenge your balance skills. Try fighting multiple opponents at one time. Use your imagination to get yourself into a fighting frame of mind.
Blind Rope Jumping
This ancient exercise is even more challenging when done with your eyes closed. Blind rope jumping will dramatically improve your dynamic balance. It will also improve agility, coordination, and stamina.
Begin with a slow and simple skipping routine. You can jump rope to music to make it more enjoyable. Relax and concentrate on keeping your balance.
Once you are comfortable with blind rope jumping, you can increase the difficulty by doing crossovers or double turns. Consider purchasing a book, video, or DVD on jumping rope to learn routines that will continue to challenge your dynamic balance.
You and a training partner should practice movement without striking or contact. Simply focus on footwork and maintaining a consistent distance. Ask your opponent to initiate and you react by adapting to his advances, retreats, or side steps.
If you opponent takes one step forward, you take one step backward. If your opponent takes two steps to the left, you take two steps to the right. If your opponent circles, you should circle so that you end up right in front of him. Your goal is to “stick” to your opponent and maintain a consistent distance from the beginning of the drill to the end.
Footwork sparring is effective for developing your dynamic balance. Also, this drill will develop your ability to instinctively put yourself in a position to strike, engage, or disengage as needed during a fight. If you can control the range of the fight through superior footwork, you will have an advantage.
This is an advanced dynamic balance drill. With both you and your partner blindfolded, start by “locking up” each other’s arms. Count to three—and go for it! Initially, you will find it difficult to remain relaxed when your partner tries to sweep or slam you. But, concentrate on maintaining a relaxed body and it will eventually become a habit.
Since you will need to stick to your partner, your tactile reflexes will also receive a good workout from this drill. This rigorous drill will also challenge other components of the Speed Loop.
Gymnastics and Tumbling
This sport is great for developing a foundation for dynamic balance. It will help you overcome the fear of being airborne. Once you overcome this fear, you will notice the improvement in your kinesthetic perception when you are grounded.
I suggest you find a competent instructor and learn the basic moves and tumbles. Your goal is to overcome fear and tension when placing your body in unfamiliar positions.
In addition to the dynamic balance drills, you should practice static balance drills. An example would be raising one leg in the air and holding it in place for as long as you can. Close your eyes to increase the difficulty of this drill.
Static balance drills are useful if you find that the dynamic drills are initially too difficult. It is okay to start at a point that is comfortable for you. Just be sure to consistently challenge yourself to improve.