Karate Thoughts Blog

Contents   /   Email  /   Atom  /   RSS  /  

1700+ Posts... and Counting

Punching Speed Contest

I was teaching the class on Monday night and wanted to explain something about punching. I wanted to show that using the koshi makes it easier to punch fast.

My third son, Cael, was there. Cael is 19 and very fast. I think he is the fastest of my sons, and also the strongest. He practiced Kendo for several years and became very quick. You would think that he should be able to punch much faster than me, since I am 51.

We began to punch to my wife's count. Of course, my son wanted to hold back so as not to embarrass me. But I urged him to try his best. We were going at about the same speed, but eventually he started to pass me by perhaps 10% to 15%.

So here is my point. Cael was not able to punch twice as fast as me. He could only beat me by a little. A 19 year old should have a greater advantage. Plus, Cael is not an average 19 year old. He has trained in Karate since he was 5 and is really quick. So why couldn't he move much faster than me -- to smoke his dad?

First, I believe that there is some sort of natural speed limit to koshi driven movement. If I put 4 students in front of the class who are all pretty good at koshi and have them punch as fast as they can, one might be a little ahead, but generally they all punch at about the same speed. I think this is because whips all go at about the same speed.

Also, with respect to Cael there is another factor. His hands and arms are faster than mine, but my koshi is faster than his. I can twitch my koshi faster (with a smaller torque) than him, and this helps me to get my punch off a little faster. He pumps or floats a little when he initiates his koshi. I do much less so.

As a result, my punch gets off a little faster. Cael then catches up and passes me during the punch because of his arm and hand speed. If he had a faster koshi, he really would smoke me.

I have observed another thing about speed. When someone is really skilled at koshi, it is not simply the speed of one technique that counts -- you have to also look at the speed of combinations. A fast person might be able to throw one technique quickly but a skilled koshi person can throw a combination with no wasted time between the techniques. The two techniques take only a little longer than a single technique. And the first technique might be a part of the second, a parry for example.

So there is a difference between raw speed and effective speed.

And don't forget that koshi allows one to generate power in a very short distance. Thus, a punch or strike can be thrown close and a close technique will generally be faster than a long range one.

At 51 I like to challenge younger, faster students. If I can come close, that is good. If I can come close to Cael, that is great! I want to become faster (and stronger) as I grow older.

And honestly, I am much slower than my Sensei, who is now almost 70!

With koshi, progress as one ages is possible. Without koshi, we will naturally become slower and weaker with age. Who wants that?


Charles C. Goodin