This blog is open all night. What I mean is, its always available. Or rather something of a public diary where I get to pat myself on the back for seemingly coming up with things that already exist and maybe I’m presenting them in a unique way. Which is cool and as I’ve said before I’m generally pretty boring to be around until you get me on the topic of martial arts…at least the arts that I’m interested in. Tonight is no exception and if you’re here then we obviously have a commonality. Maybe you like to write about your experiences. Maybe you’re looking for new and practical ways of punching or kicking someone. That last bit is a blatant over simplification. But this is therapeutic in a way…I write and all 10 of you read this stuff and 1 or 2 comment which is cool. Maybe it makes sense to you and maybe you’ve seen it all before, which I’m hoping is not the case. Or maybe it all seems so convoluted and maybe you’re just here to humor me. Also fine and I appreciate the sentiment.
For those of us who have invested ourselves as career martial artists we have all had a crush on speed( to clarify…the ability to move very fast) at some point. Being a quick in technique is an attraction that a lot of us strive for at one time or another and if you are still young enough to move without a tendonitis flare up or upsetting your arthritis then you probably enjoy training to be faster and faster every time you execute. Speed. Point A to point B like lightning. Speed. Speed was something that I enjoyed training right up until 35 or 36. I wasn’t aware of its departed thrill until around 40. Even as we age and are advanced in experience and wisdom we still get that urge to turn it up every once in a while to show ourselves that its still there. If you can, you should. Its that simple. As I ascend further and further into middle age, speed is something that I don’t ever want to completely let go of. Its one of the things I’m passionate about. I love being fast. I’m not the fastest one around, but I do ok. Its thrilling. At some point in our training we have to transcend speed. It doesn’t mean we forget about though.
Enter timing. For those of you who play chess you enjoy the mental martial arts of the chess board and all the kings men. The mental capacity it takes to take out the opponent at chess is similar to martial arts. As my mentor used to say “Some folks play checkers and some study Shaolin Kempo Karate.”
I have noticed 2 things about speed or rather timing within the past couple of years. Again, I don’t believe its anything new…but maybe I’m saying it differently. Muscular speed versus postural speed. Depending on my on guard position, I can create speed just by where my hands are located. If my hands are properly placed then I don’t have to be very fast because I have achieved a sort of postural speed. Muscular speed relies heavily on…yep…muscles. Eventually that ship will sale and all you have left is postural speed and body mechanics. You also have timing and to gain timing you need to repeat it like everything else you do. Drills, techniques, drills, techniques…you get the idea. Your response to your partners attack in training is a key component. How quickly I react to said attack is imperative. For what we do the attack is most commonly a punch. As its been brought up numerous times, You must be moving at some capacity when that punch is coming at you. Your reaction must be timed well. If it doesn’t happen then you don’t move so there is no wasted energy on your part. If it comes you don’t wait til its upon you before deciding to take action. You are required to engage at the right time and if you don’t then you run the risk of being hit or giving away your intent. Timing.
Timing itself should be listed somewhere as an art. Its in everything. Boxing, fencing, and yes…any martial art. Its feeling your way through you strikes. your kicks. your grappling. Your felling an opponent. Timing is the middle aged “speed”. Its that thing that gives you the ability to counteract what is about to happen. “Knowing” when to punch or kick and knowing when to use footwork to side step an opponent. Timing is magic. Its also one of those things that comes in handy when you’ve grown weary of speed or its grown weary of you. If I’m using what I am calling postural speed and beat you to the punch every time, was it speed or was it timing? Does it matter? Not really, as long as I know what I’m doing.
If you’ve never seen the film Ip Man 2, I highly recommend it. Ip Man, if you don’t know, was considered to be Bruce Lee’s only formal instructor even though its been said that he had a few. Regardless, There is a scene in the film where Ip is speaking to a hot headed student and Ip asks the younger student what he thinks about Ip’s martial arts. His obvious reply is “You’re great!” and Ip’s reply is “What about 20 years from now?, no one can be number 1 forever.” Yes, I know its only a movie, let that sink in though. Transcend where you are now as a martial artist and allow yourself to evolve. You might be surprised where you end up. For me personally, I would like to continue to evolve as a martial artist so much that one day I can move so little but be boundless in skill. That is one of my greatest aspirations as a career martial artist. As I become more and more diligent by what I’m doing and what my training continues to change into it becomes more and more attainable. Everything falls into what and where and how at a particular time. Timing.