Thursday, April 12, 2007

Slow... Motion... Training...

One of the staples of many instructors' teaching style for learning proper technique of strikes or kicks, or when teaching kata (poomse), is to have a student learn in slow motion. As an instructor, it's important to examine why we do things, and not just teach the way we were taught, so let's examine the purported benefits of training in slow motion.

One of the supposed benefits of training in slow motion has been to increase speed. That's bunk, and most of us realize it now. All you have to do is watch the best speed athletes in the world train, and you realize that they don't get fast by going slow! One of my all-time favorite Washington Redskins players is Darrell Green. A seven-time all-pro, Green won the NFL's Fastest Man competition four times, and, per his bio, was the "ifrst Redskin to run 40 yards in 4.2 seconds at the age of 40
," and, a tribute to his training methods (and genetics), was the "First and oldest player in NFL history to play CB [cornerback] at age 41." One thing I can tell you is that I never saw Darrell Green training to be fast by walking. Point? Slow motion won't increase your speed!

Three things that slow-mo training will do for you are to help you learn techniques more quickly, learn proper body mechanics, and build proper muscle memory.

Common mistakes when teaching techniques are to teach them at regular speed, and to let a student drill or spar with the new technique too soon. Instead, teach the movements slowly but smoothly, and gradually increase speed and power, never to the detriment of technique. By sparring or drilling with a new technique too soon, the student will abandon the proper technique as to "win" the drill or sparring. Build the speed after you teach the technique, thereby preserving good form.

Body mechanics (the application of proper motion) for strikes, punches, and kicks can be learned best in slow motion because you feel the weight shift, the changes in balance and pressure, and which muscle groups to emphasize; whether to pull or push, and when. When I had students miss board breaks, I would go walk them through a technique, and they'd invariably make it after the slow motion rehearsal. Think of a golfer going through the motions of a putt before actually addressing the ball - body mechanics.

To summarize, while you won't increase speed by training in slow motion, but you can shorten the time to learn a new skill and build muscle memory.

Ok, now read this again - but more slooooowly this time!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good read . . . I need to add your blog to my rss reader!
Combative Martial Arts