There are many different drills that can be done to improve your hand speed. I am going to list a few that I have found to be extremely effective.
- Striking Paper
Striking a piece of paper is an excellent way to improve your speed. Not to mention how cost effective it is. 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. Power is not an issue.
Find a way to hang a short staff horizontally and secure a piece of paper to it 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.
The key to making this work is in the concentration. Concentrate on the form. Make sure your entire body is relaxed prior to initiation. 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. It should feel like a whip cracking on the surface. Practice each punch a couple of hundred times three days a week for a month and I guarantee you will notice a difference.
- Shadow Boxing
Shadow boxing is a great all around drill. Helping to increase your speed is just one of many benefits. It is a crucial tool to help put everything you have learned together.
Getting started can take a little bit of practice. Many people have a difficult time in the beginning, not being able to move freely without preplanning. The trick to getting the most out of it is in the imagination. You have to visualize, as best as you can, a real opponent in front of you.
I begin almost every workout with five to ten minutes of shadow boxing. It is a good way to get all your muscles loosened up.
To increase your speed, remain relaxed and throw you attacks as quickly as you can. You can practice individual techniques one by one or you can build overall speed by throwing combinations of punches, kicks, and parries. Throw everything you've got. Try to keep your mind open, don't get locked into doing the same movements over and over again. Feel the techniques flowing naturally, without any thought or pre-arrangement.
As your imaginary adversary attacks, counter him. As he steps to the side intercept him. Use your imagination and concentrate on speed.
To help build your speed even more, add hand weights to your routine. Using anything from one to five pounds, throw your punches until your shoulders burn. Not only will you develop hand speed, you will also greatly improve your muscle endurance.
-Training with a Heavy Bag
Training with a Heavy Bag is usually used for developing power. It can also be used to help develop speed.
Start off by hitting lightly. Just tap the bag, concentrate on speed, not punching through the bag as you would if you were working on power. Work either individual punches or in combination. A little trick to help focus at the same time is to cut a few small pieces of duct tape and place them on the bag in various places for target practice. With each strike listen to the sound it makes, try to "crack" the surface of the bag like a whip.
- Training with a Partner
To increase your speed, there are many drills that can be done with a partner. One of the best pieces of equipment to use is a pair of focus mitts. Focus mitts offer a great deal of versatility in that they can give you a small moving target.
One drill that is very useful is to have your partner hold one focus mitt up, as you try to hit it, he tries to pull it away. As you practice, you will notice that you will be able to barely tap the mitt. Don't get frustrated if you are unable to hit it squarely. If you are able to tap it, you're doing very well. Your partner may be able to move his hand out of the way but in a real situation, a persons head never moves that fast. If you find that either you cannot hit it at all or if you are hitting it every single time, you need to adjust your distance. Step further back if you hit it every time to create more of a challenge. Or, step closer if you cannot hit it at all.
This drill can be used to increase the speed of any of your punches. One small warning: Do not attempt this with kicks! You are likely to do serious damage to your knees.
Strength training for martial arts performance can be very beneficial. One thing to keep in mind is that the most important muscles to train are the muscles used in each type of martial arts movement. It is easy to get caught up in the body building routine. It has been said by some that weight training is not good for martial artists. They believe that your muscles will get too large and tend to slow you down. I do not buy into that way of thinking. If you are to practice your martial arts and use weight lifting as a supplement, you should have no problems at all. If your workouts were to consist of primarily weights with little work on speed and flexibility, then you may have a problem. Building Strength For Punches
There are many different muscle groups involved in a punch. Starting with the forearms, the bi-ceps and tri-ceps, the deltoids, traps, pectorals, lats, and to some degree, the abdominals.
- Surgical Tubing (resistance training)
A drill that will help increase all the muscle groups in a punch is to purchase a piece of surgical tubing from a medical supply store. Tie on end to something stationary and make a loop in the other end. Put your hand inside the loop and make a fist around it. Stand so that your back is to where you tied the other end. Throw a punch, feeling the resistance of the tubing. Repeat this as fast as you can until you feel the muscles burn. Do this in three or four sets on each arm. This will not give you great gains in physical strength, it will not improve your bench press or squatting ability but it will help the muscle endurance in all the muscles that count. A variation of this drill that will more substantially impact your strength, (if you have access to a machine with cables) is to put a handle on the lower cable and throw punches with progressively more weight.
The best course of action to is to use exercises that will isolate the muscles involved in a punch. They are too numerous to name but there are numerous books and magazines on weight lifting that will help.
Strength training for Kicks and Footwork
Leg strength is crucial in all aspects of JKD. Strong calves and quads help produce a quick and powerful push off. Strong hamstring muscles ensure better flexibility and more forceful kicks.
- Frog leaps
Frog Leaps are a tool to develop the quads as well as increasing anaerobic endurance. They are a plyo-metric type exercise, using a persons own body weight as resistance.
To perform a Frog Leap, squat down with your feet about shoulder width. Using all your strength, leap upwards as high as you can. When you land, try to do so without any excess noise.
Start off with three sets of twenty or so. With some work, you should be able to achieve three sets of fifty or more. If you've never done them before, expect to be sore the next couple of days.
After a couple of months you will notice a remarkable difference in your explosiveness as well as your muscle endurance.
The most important exercise for your legs is to practice footwork alone. Begin with repetitions of individual steps.
For example, you may try five sets of fifty push offs. Just practice pushing forward over and over. Each time you can measure the distance you cover in order to measure progress.
Next, try tying a few steps together in combination.
For instance, you might try a step forward, then to the right, ending with a right pivot. After a couple of weeks, when these three steps feel fluid and quick, change to another combination. This should be an on going process since clean footwork is probably the most important attribute for JKD performance.
Jumping Rope is perfect all around exercise. If done frequently, it can build endurance, coordination, and lighter footwork. To keep from getting bored, add some fancy moves to your rope routine. Crossovers, double jumps, and alternating feet can provide a formidable challenge. If you can jump rope for twenty minutes or more without stopping, you can consider yourself in pretty good shape.