Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Speed kills... the other guy in the world of muay thai

"The stronger swordsman does not necessarily win. It is speed! Speed of hand, speed of mind."

That's one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite stories, The Count of Monte Cristo. It is a common belief that power and size go hand in hand. Well that's bad news for a guy like me. See, I'm  5 foot six, a hundred and forty-something pounds - a self professed little guy.  I'm certainly not big, and I don't want to be big. I never had big muscles. In fact, growing up I had the metabolism of a squirrel. I tried bulking up, but my body just burned off every type of protein muscle-max weight gain product I could blow my allowance on. When I started training muay thai, I was hoping that this high impact martial art would get me yolked.


But us little guys have a strength that a lot of the bigger guys disregard - speed. I think speed is a defense mechanism that you develop when you're being chased by bullies as a little kid. When that speed is used for fight instead of flight, bullies become a non-issue

I've noticed that during the course of their training a lot of western muay thai and MMA practitioners tend to develop the mind set that the more weight one can push the harder one can strike. Not necessarily so. Strength gives you the ability to move mass, but does it enable you to cause more damage to that mass than a person 2/3 your size?

When it comes to striking, speed is king. Developing the ability to throw with explosive speed can give a person a small as myself the ability to generate devastating power. Its simple bio-mechanics, nothing mystical. When you understand that the faster you can throw a strike in a smaller period of time, and get your body into it, your opponent is in a world of hurt.

Here's a couple quick tips to help you develop explosive power with your strikes:

1. Basic physics - your mass x acceleration = force. Don't throw punches with your arm, throw it with your body. Drive forward with your strikes, punch through your target.

2. Pivot in, pivot out - The pivot is one of the most important aspects of the muay thai round kick. If you throw a kick at 20mph, bring your leg back at 25mph, and bring it back with that pivot.

3. The faster you can pivot, the harder you can strike - this applies to elbows, round kicks, hooks.

4. Commit 100% to the strike at that moment, don't worry about counter strikes because if you're training right, you wouldn't depend on a one-shot knock out. You throw at least 3-5 in a single combo.

5. If you're like me you don't train muay thai for sport, but for protection. You can't get disqualified from a street fight, so when you strike you aim for soft targets, and you attack with everything behind it.

6. Most important tip ever! When you're learning a technique, throw it slow until you are comfortable with moving your body that way. Build the speed at your own pace, the power will increase as your speed increases. You aren't going to impress anyone firing off a half ass technique with no power.