Psychological Speed

 

By exploring the theory of psychological speed, I do not mean speed of thought, however that is a symbiont part of the theory. What I want to explore here is how an understanding of speed can help with a physical application of movement. The key to moving fast is to understand how the human body engages itself in this process.  In previous writings I have looked at Bilateral asymmetrical movement, now I want to introduce the thought process, that which is termed psychological speed.

The first determining part of any movement is the central nervous system, which is made up of the brain and the spinal cord,  from these all human movement is initiated, controlled and monitored. The next step in controlling movement is the peripheral nervous system, which constitutes every nerve outside of the central nervous system. This system itself has several sub-systems; the one that I am concerned with here is the autonomic nervous system. This system is the one humans use every second of every day of their lives and without any cognitive thought. It controls functions such as heart beat, breathing and initiates many of our reflexes. It is used when we run, drive, swim and many other normal everyday activities, this is the one system that takes an effort to become aware of. The control of this system and movement undertaken by it can all be categorised as spontaneous actions. When we use our minds to interact with this system, introducing a conscious thought process, the moves produced by this interaction are faster than any other conscious movement, as they are embedded in the subconscious mind and controlled by the automatic nervous system.

Can you recall a time when a stressful situation occurred and time seemed to slow down? Your mind is working so fast that you are able to think many moves in front of the next. This is the same type of experience that I am exploring here. The body and mind can be trained with certain moves in such a way that speed of movement can be increased. The key here is the ability to take a specific movement out of your subconscious, put it into your conscious mind, analyse it, practice it slowly, and then over time return in back into your subconscious, so that it becomes spontaneous. This type of spontaneous movement is the highest skill level of any martial artist, regardless of style. This is where the essence of true psychological speed exists.

Assume that you find yourself in a position where you are able to hammer-fist strike an attacker’s groin. Your next move from the hammer-fist is a rising elbow to underneath their jaw. The first consideration here is the reaction of your attacker after the hit to the groin. assume that your strike is perfect and it has caught them in the ideal spot, they are now entering a reflex action.  If we study the action caused by the strike to the groin in this manner, what we will find is that the body does not travel backwards, also the hips are not forced backwards. What happens when a true reflex occurs to this stimulus? – the body collapses upon itself, the knees give way, and depending upon the amount of force, the body will drop to the ground. The initial strike and your attackers reaction are what is known as the ideal phase, everything is working perfectly. Your next planned move is the rising elbow, it’s simple to believe that this can be executed without any problem, however this is not the case if your attacker has innately entered a reflex to pain. They will be moving spontaneously and at a very high-speed. Your next planned move has to be equal to or faster than the attacker’s reflex reaction. At this point psychological speed can be employed. You have to know your next move, your attackers reaction to the move and already be thinking ahead of it. This is achieved by focusing not on the elbow rising or on the elbow returning down from the strike, but on the position of the hand before the move has even began. The point of origin of the elbow is the position at the point of contact to the groin. The elbow needs to move up and then down, returning to its original position in a split second. If you can train this thought process into the execution of the move, you will be able to move at a lightning speed, which is as fast as your attacker’s pain reflex. As the elbow is lower than the jaw they will meet and collide quickly. This type of collision can be termed an initiated collision. You are causing the attacker to move in such a way that they collide with your strike. The key here is that you understand how speed is developed. By inserting into the above move another asymmetrical movement with the other moving limb, bilateral symmetry will be achieved, imagine how fast you will be able to move!

There are a wide diversity of situations when psychological speed can be used, within the context of a martial application, my intention from the above is to introduce some ideas that will help the student discover circumstances when this can apply.

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  1. #1 by Mr Kevin Ebbs on March 18, 2013 - 13:41

    I’ve been asking my students to think in this way too recently…so that when they strike an opponent, they are thinking very carefully of how the opponent’s body will react to their initail strike or defence. This forethought then enables them to think carefully what the next move or point of contact might be so that their second course of action isn’t to thin air! To use the opponent’s reaction force to increase yours is another skill altogether and one we could learn much from you Master Mills. Taekwon!

  2. #3 by peter reid on March 25, 2013 - 18:38

    Hi Kevin, I try to apply this way of though when teaching young kenpo students. I try to teach them that the speed they deliver their blow must coincide with the consequences of what has to follow, should it be necessary to deliver another strike. Thank you again for another fine article . Peter Reid, Daigokan Kenpo Karate Ireland.

  3. #4 by Graham Hilliard on April 25, 2013 - 17:39

    Yet another interesting and informative blog that gives you food for thought. Excellent material Kevin.

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