Form, Flow, & Fast: 3 Stages of Technique Development
As I prepare another 3 months of lessons for my guys at Austin Impact Jeet Kune Do I have been thinking about what important things we need work on. One that comes to mind is developing our individual techniques. We’ve been focusing a lot on combos and focus mitt work lately, and it’s really paying off. But now I think it’s time to spend a little more work on cleaning up some of the individual techniques–making sure the strikes are crisp, quick, strong, and done with good defensive coverage. Hence the inspiration for this article.
Bruce Lee was very adamant about developing the individual “tools of the trade”. He spent time hitting the bag, sparring, and shadowboxing. But when you look at his written workouts, he also spent time just throwing single shots with speed, power, and accuracy, upwards of 300 repetitions a day! No wonder he executed his techniques flawlessly and with lightning speed.
There are 3 stages I like to emphasize when I’m training my individual punches and kicks. I like to call them: Form, Flow, and Fast (not 100% grammatically correct, but then again I’m a martial artist, not a school teacher).
Stage 1: Form
I prefer to start by throwing a technique, lets say a Lead Straight Punch, first by emphasizing correct form. I punch at about half speed, with a focus on no wasted motion. The punch goes straight to the target and returns on the same line. The rear hand is held high to protect the face. I’m focusing on all of the finer points of the punch at this stage. After about 10 or so repetitions I move on to stage 2.
Stage 2: Flow
Now the emphasis is on staying relaxed when executing the punch, taking out all of the jerky movements and coordinating all of the different parts of the strike together, all while still staying true to the good form developed in stage 1. The speed is about 3 quarters full speed and, again, the emphasis is on relaxation, firing the correct muscles at the correct time. Once again, after about 10 or so repetitions I move on to phase 3 of the punch.
Stage 3: Fast
This is where I put it all together. Now the goal is to take the muscle memory from stages 1 and 2 and to apply them full speed, full power. The techniques are still worked individually, and NOT in what I call a Tae Bo fashion–meaning not mindlessly one after the other. Instead, I ready himself, mentally preparing to execute the best punch I’ve got. I then fire and complete my punch as perfectly as I can. Then I ready myself again for the next one. 10 or so repetitions, putting all of my mental energy into each punch.
Of course a total of 30 repetitions is not enough to develop great form and Bruce Lee-like speed in each of one’s techniques. But done consistently, this approach will chisel away any of the flaws in one’s strikes and create a platform for explosive, powerful combinations.
You can use this training model as a warm up after some light shadowboxing or jump rope before moving on to other aspects of training. Just pick 3-5 techniques that you want to really hone and start with those. Do this practice daily and after 2 weeks pick out another set of techniques to focus on.