Adaptation Speed

This will improve the quickness and accuracy of your mind. You will develop the ability to instantaneously select the most effective movements to use at any point during a confrontation. You will learn to do this without thought. Your reflexes will carry out the movement selection process automatically.

Stick Training

Training with escrima sticks, as is taught in conjunction with the Filipino martial arts, is one of the best ways to increase your adaptation speed. Under the guidance of a competent instructor, you can elevate your speed and reflexes to a phenomenal level in a relatively short period of time. If an instructor is not readily available, I suggest you purchase DVDs or videos, attend seminars on the Filipino martial arts, and practice the basics with a partner.

You do not need to know every detail of the art. Just gather enough to help you gain a better understanding of the angles and the concept of “flowing.” As you will see, these arts (like all effective combat systems) are based primarily on speed of flow, economy of motion, and spiritual involvement. All are attributes of the superior fighter.

Stick training (Filipino style) will definitely push your speed and reflexes to new heights. Using a stick, you can attack an opponent from multiple angles in a split second. The stick is so fast because all you need to do is flick your wrist to instantly change the angle of attack. No one can punch or kick as fast as they can flip the end of a stick at a target.

Wielded by a trained specialist, the stick has been consistently clocked at speeds well over 150 m.p.h. Compare this to the relatively slow 100 m.p.h. of the so-called fastballs thrown in major league baseball! 

This leads me to the next reason why you, as a speed student, should look into the Filipino martial arts. They teach angles as opposed to techniques. 

All techniques, regardless of their stylized characteristics, will travel along the path of one of the 12 angles of attack identified in the Filipino martial arts. Accordingly, all openings presented to you will be along these same 12 angles. By dealing with common angles, and not individual techniques, you will dramatically reduce your reaction choices. Fewer choices to sort through in response to an attack or opening will lead to quicker responses. 

After training with the sticks and reverting back to empty hands, you will notice that your opponent’s empty hand actions will seem to move in slow motion. Because of your improved reflexes, they will be slower.

This sensation can be compared to the experience of driving at 100 m.p.h. and then slowing down to 65 m.p.h. Even though 65 m.p.h. is not that slow, it feels slow because you’ve been functioning in a faster realm. It is the same with fluid stick training. You should use this slow motion sensation as a gauge of progress. The slower things seem to be, the faster you are becoming.

The best preparation for actual fighting is full-contact sparring (with adequate protective gear). With the gear and escrima sticks, you and your partner will easily cut your reaction times in half. In the short time needed to learn the basics of these arts, you will see noticeable improvement in most of your fighting attributes.

I guarantee you will learn to move very fast when a sizeable piece of wood is coming at you at more than 150 m.p.h.! Needless to say, you will give your all to avoid it, and eliminate its operator as quickly and efficiently as possible. No time will be wasted, and I am certain that you will be truly functioning at 100% of your innate ability.

An important aspect of the Filipino arts is the “flow.” To ensure maximum development of your flow, it is imperative that you start off slowly and speed up as your coordination improves with the stick. Focus on maintaining proper form and using economy of motion. 

The validity of stick training for the combat speed student is evident when observed closely. As you have learned, to develop an attribute quickly, you must consistently push the attribute slightly beyond its current capabilities. This tears the attribute down and is called Phase One of the development. Phase One is active development.

Between these periods of active development, you should get proper rest. Resting is Phase Two of the attribute’s development. During this phase, the attribute (speed, power, strength, or stamina) actually improves and prepares itself to accept an increased workload. In other words, it is rebuilding itself to its original level and beyond. Phase Two is a passive form of development, but it is crucial and often ignored by most novices.

In weight training, the recognition and effective application of the work period (Phase One) and rest period (Phase Two) is called “cycling.” It is a proven method for accelerating physical development. Use this concept in your combat speed training.

When training, you must concentrate on using economy of motion in your actions. Be direct and simple. The purpose is not to practice proper form for the sake of looking good, at least not for the speed student. All fights are bound to get sloppy. The objective in training is to practice good form for the sake of economy of motion, which directly increases speed. 

Focus Mitts

Focus mitts are valuable tools that will help you develop mental speed. I recommend finding a competent boxing instructor or purchasing a training DVD or video that instructs you on the basics and proper use of the focus mitts.

You will need a partner to get the most out of focus mitt training. The better your partner is at manipulating focus mitts, the better you will get at hitting them. The idea is to force your mind to instantly strike the pad from any angle that your partner holds it at. Most people make the mistake of rigidly practicing with the pads. They hold them as if they were a heavy bag. The pads are best used for “active movement” training.

The key is to adapt to the pads—not to make them adapt to you! Initially, focus mitt training will prove to be the source of much frustration. But, I promise you that within weeks you will notice a significant improvement in your coordination and mental speed.

Do not cheat yourself! You must be patient and start off slowly and in good form. You can speed up as your adaptation speed improves. Ask your partner to take note of any bad habits you have, such as telegraphing your punches, or dropping your hands. You want to correct as many bad habits in training as you can because you won’t have that opportunity in competition or a real fight.

The following is one of my favorite focus mitt drills for developing mental quickness and adaptation speed.

Number Call

For this drill, have your partner hold the focus mitts still. Pick a number for each type of punch. A jab could be number one, a cross could be two, a hook could be three, and an uppercut could be four. Now have your partner call out a number at random. You must respond by executing the strike designated for that particular number as fast as you possibly can. Your partner should vary the tone of voice and the rhythm at which the numbers are called in order to make it as challenging as possible for you without making it too difficult.

This drill will virtually drive you crazy at first, but progress and mental speed development will come fast. You are in the process of tuning up your mind. If you find that four numbers are too many to start with, try it with three or two. As your adaptation speed improves, add more numbers. Use kicks, punches, elbows, knees, headbutts, or whatever else you come up with by designating a number for each. Be creative and always strive to make your training intense, but enjoyable.

Mental Shadow Fighting

Your imagination can be a very effective teacher. But, some people are not receptive to new ideas and teachings. If you want to tap the power of imagination, you will have to keep an open mind.

The imagination must be exercised like any other muscle. Being pressured to learn something that you really want to learn anyway is very effective. It might surprise you to find out how quickly you could learn a new language if you happened to find yourself alone and lost in another part of the world. The experience and assimilation would be unlike any language course you could find. 

So you see, the imagination is something that you must be motivated to use. Once you are sufficiently motivated, learning becomes faster and easier.

Although you can develop speed in the shortest possible time by training with someone who is faster, the next best choice is an imaginary partner who is faster. 

Predator Drill

Envision yourself being attacked by one or more muggers. As they close in, you explode into action and defeat them handily. Concentrate on seeing yourself adapting to their every move with ease and explosiveness. I like to call it “fighting the Predator.”

For some, these mental pictures will be difficult to produce, but you must keep running them in your mind, until you can vividly see yourself moving as fast as you would like to. 

It is very important that you react to the first technique that pops into your head to defeat the opponent’s attack. Do not slow the pictures down either, unless you are working on a specific move or technique. Do not think about it, just react!

Your mind will be clicking from one technique to another at an astonishing rate. Try to adapt to every attack that you envision, as best as you can, until you have finally emerged victorious over the “Predator.”

Work yourself up into a genuine fighting frame of mind. Try to react every time the picture changes. Continue this drill for as long as you can maintain the constant reaction to the change of attacks popping in your mind. If you begin to get tired or sloppy, stop and rest. Remember, quality of training is more important than quantity when it comes to developing speed.

Did you know you can accomplish nearly anything you can imagine? If you can’t, it is most often because you really can’t see it vividly. To see it clearly you must be highly motivated. Every physical action that we carry out is simply a duplication of the pictures that occupy our minds at the moment. The faster you can picture yourself moving, the faster you will move. I know this concept sounds a little far-fetched, but it’s absolutely true. It has been tested and confirmed countless times. You can experiment with it yourself.

How fast do you want to be? You should clearly see yourself moving as fast as you would like to move. Do not visualize someone else. You must see yourself moving at lightning speed.

You will probably find that this mental picture of your blazing speed will be difficult to see clearly if you do not truly believe that you are that fast. This is where the problem lies. If you cannot see it, how do you expect to duplicate it?

Mental speed training is an important part of the Speed Loop. Keep visualizing yourself moving faster and faster. If you do, the picture will get clearer, and as a consequence, you will actually become faster. 

Speed Training Tip

The ultimate in advanced applied speed is the ability to adapt quickly and effectively to any fighting situation, at any time, at any place, against any adversary. For all of you impressed by the crisp snapping sound of your uniform when practicing solo: Stop fooling yourself and get real! Challenge yourself in a realistic way today if you want victories tomorrow.