Friday, March 21, 2008

Speed Training: Palm Heel Jab

Several years ago, my jujitsu instructor saw how dejected I was after our pre-sparring training session. He asked me,"What's wrong?" I explained to him how discouraged I was that I could not get a single punch past his defenses.

Then my instructor told me that he had boxed for eight years, and that when I jabbed, he had to draw on all his experience and training to stop me. And for all that, he was barely succeeding. I found comfort in that, for he was not one to exaggerate or lie just to make a student feel better.

That meant my speed training was working. I practiced my jabs while I walked my rounds on my security job. About 25% of the time, I actually threw punches, but 75% of the practice was in my head. I had previously practiced the jab in slow motion to teach the movement to my muscles and nerves (and also to eliminate telegraphs and extraneous motion.

Still, I needed something more -- something to put snap and speed into the punches. For some reason, a memory popped into my head of the crude animation I played with in grade school. At the bottom edge of my writing tablet, I would draw a circle, and then put the features of a frowning face in it.

Then, in the same place on the next page, I'd trace the circle and make a smiling face. By flipping the page up & down, the face appeared to go from smiling to frowning and back again. Using the same technique, I could make a stick figure dance.

That memory prodded me to think of the jab in only two positions: ready and fully extended. I would leave everything in between to muscle and nerve memory from the slow motion practice, and I would visualize my jab as though the in-between did not exist. In my mind, I practiced my jab seeing only those two positions. Ready. Jab. Ready.

It was incredibly fast (in my mind). After a time of mental practice, I tried the actual jab. I found that I had improved my speed -- considerably. That's the little edge that gave a 50-year old student the speed to beat his instructor. Well . . . almost.

Try it with your palm heel jab. Let me know if you see a difference.

To find out more about the palm heel, click this link:

Fight Like a Girl: Palm Heel Chin Jab

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