Everyone is amazed by it, we all want it – blazing speed made famous by such fighters and artists as Bruce Lee, Muhammed Ali, Vitor Belfort, and Manny Pacquiao. But how do you get it?

There are three types of speed:

  1. perceptual speed– the amount of time it takes your senses to recognize threats or imminent strikes coming. Ex: See the strike or opening.
  2. reaction speed– the amount of time it takes you to go from not moving to reacting (perception to movement). Ex: Give the mental command to strike or move
  3. physical speed– how fast you can actually move your hand or foot from point A to point B.

How can you improve these attributes? Here are three drills to improve your speed- thanks to Langley West and Kirby Salisbury for teaching me these.

Drill One – Gunslinger

You and your partner face each other in a right lead at arm’s length. Your partner keeps one focus mitt raised and facing you (parallel to his face). You may wear gloves if you wish, your partner wears two focus mitts. With your hands relaxed at your sides, you watch to see with your peripheral vision when your partner raises his pad to hit you with the flat of his other pad, you strike his raised pad with your lead (right) hand. Return to your resting position between hits. Your goal is to hit the pad before your partner hits you. Hint: imagine yourself as a gunslinger, move your hand up to hit with your vertical fist. Keep your elbow pointed at the ground during your strike, don’t turn your palm towards the ground. At the last minute, pivot your hip for more power on your punch and raise you left hand to guard your face. For your very fastest technique, replace the punch with an eye jab, pointing your fingers together for extra reach and less tension, making you hit the target that much quicker.

Drill Two – Elbows

You and your partner again face each other, this time square your hips towards each other, with you wearing no gloves and your partner wearing either focus mitts or thai pads. Stand close to each other, so that you are in elbow (trapping) range. You stand with your hands up by your face, and your elbows  stciking out slightly (use the guard from Muay Thai if you wish). Your partner touches both of your elbows with his pads. When the trainer taps your elbow, you will quickly hit the opposite pad with that elbow. Return to your resting position between throwing elbows in order to relax and really work on your reaction time. Have your partner mix up his or her commands so that you do not fall into any set rhythm or pattern.

Drill Three- Retraction

You face your partner at arms length, and throw your jab at his left focus pad. Once you hit the pad, try to retract your hand back to your on-guard position before…

Your partner hits your forearm or hand with his other pad. If you focus on throwing your punch out at 50 mph, but retracting it at 100 mph- you will get faster! Every motion has a corresponding retraction or counter and if you train this retraction to be faster, then the motion gets more efficient.

Now try it with your right cross.

Now you try it with your knees.

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