Big sticks!How do get fast in FMA?
I once ascribed to the theory that training with heavy sticks equates to more speed in the FMA. I've been rethinking my approach lately. We all know that speed without power is useless. I always raise an eyebrow at the guys that claim to throw the most strikes in the least amount of time. Usually what you get is a guy with some decent skill flailing at the air with a series of strikes that wouldn't do much damage. So lets not get too caught up on demonstrations of speed with this discussion and focus on speed considering power. Often a guy doesn't need to be particularly fast as much as he needs to use proper structure and timing. All things aside lets discuss how to get faster in FMA.
A lot of guys I know like to use a heavy stick to work on speed. They lose the heavy stick and feel much faster. However, i've noticed when I lose the heavy stick my coordination is off. Soon I adjust and the coordination is better but I wonder about the speed. To me it seems the best way to get faster is to move fast. Like other forms of exercise training is quite specific. A heavy stick might help dexterity but I question how much it actually helps speed. I'd say use various sticks to keep the training diverse. When I train alone I like to work through my strikes from a light to heavy and back to light weapon again if for nothing else just to keep it interesting. I do find regular training with a heavy stick makes it less noticeable when I change weapon weights. Before working with light to medium weight weapons the heavier weapons really seemed noticeable to me. Now with all the transitioning it doesn't seem as foreign.
My main point, its great to train with different weapon weights but I don't know that I agree that a heavier weapon automatically makes you faster with a light weapon. If you want to work on speed specifically use a light weapon and make an effort to react fast.
Swinging something heavy is a different skill than swinging something light. It's non-intuitively counter-productive.
I don't do FMA but in kendo speed comes from relaxed good technique and I can't imagine FMA is much different in that respect. Beginners are always looking for some shortcut through weight training or whatever but really theres no shortcut, only more practice.
From a noob's perspective (Just finished up my first year of "proper" [not backyard JKD] FMA):
I try to use my bahi stick as much as possible for the solo drill/warmup portion of the class, I then switch to my standard weight Palasans for partner work.
I feel the bahi has been instrumental in developing my arms and increasing my endurance when striking, I can now go all day on the tyres with a lighter stick and I certainly FEEL like I'm substantially faster when I switch to my lighter sticks.
It is true what you say about the co-ordination being different though, I find that when I'm preparing for a grading I need to switch back to the lighter sticks about a week before hand just so that I can get things looking right again.
I also found at first when sparring after a warmup with the bahi that I really struggled to control the very light WEKAF sticks, these days not so much, which probably proves your point that its important to train with a range of different weights.
Something else that needs mentioning is the danger of injury with a heavy stick, if you're training for speed you're quite likely training curving strikes and abanicos, and if you're not careful you can hurt yourself pretty badly doing an abanico with a heavy stick.
Good point Fuzzy. Heavy sticks can change the mechanics of a strike. I've heard of guys training with rebar and it surprises me. I'd like to see video of someone wielding a piece of rebar. It still might have a limited amount of purpose but it sounds like overkill.
I also like to train with weapons that are balanced differently, although, I don't do it enough. Like a small t-ball bat for example where the weight balanced differently.
I believe that fast is mostly a matter of muscle memory and repetitions. I don't have to be as fast if I know where I'm going before my opponent does.
The fast-twitch fast that applies in "oh ****" situations is based on athleticism and can be worked by a few techniques - hitting tires with heavy sticks, swinging the indian clubs, Tabatas on the tires , swinging the pipes. Let's face it: given equal technique, the better athlete wins.
The better fast, in my opinion, is based on swinging the stick correctly thousands of times, regardless of the weight of said stick.
Originally Posted by Canuckyokushin
I use heavy sticks for conditioning, and because I break those little rattan ones too easily. It got too expensive to keep having to replace them. So I use hickory and a cold steel stick on my tire and bag. I don't know if using heavier sticks makes me faster. But I use heavy sticks and I am faster than when I first started training.
Combatives training log.
Gezere: paraphrase from Bas Rutten, Never escalate the level of violence in fight you are losing. :D
kettlebell workouts give you “cardio
without the dishonour of aerobics”.
For everyday training, I use Cold Steel's sticks, which are substantially harder than standard rattan. While I do "feel" I can move faster with lighter sticks afterward, speed should never be sacrificed for accuracy, and the key before speed or power should always be timing.
I'm just a fairy stick fencer, so I'm posting somewhat outside my area of expertise here, but I do have some thoughts about this. I think it is more beneficial to develop speed with the tool you'll be fighting/competing with, because when you get used to compensating for something heavier, it can throw off your technique and timing when you return to something lighter.
My support for this theory is purely anecdotal, but I find that when I switch from Epee back to the lighter Foil (to work with a beginner or something) my circles get wider and I lose some precision because I'm used to doing the movements with more inertia.
I generally do Indian club work to satisfy my swinging-heavy-clubs notions, and consequently I feel that a lot of weapons that are heavy to others are fine for me. Clubwork puts your joints through a variety of positions and tensions that are not all necessarily ways you'd use a weapon, which is a good thing in my opinion, because you avoid burning out some muscles while others go unused.
When I go to FMA class, I bring a pair of rattan sticks and a pair of kamagong ones in my stickbag. Kamagongs for warmup due to added weight, rattans for contact drills. When I practice solo, I use a variety of fairly heavy weapons, including a five foot claymore I call the Helmhalver.
Does hand speed transfer over from heavier sticks to a rattan baston? Well, quick rattan work often uses sorts of strikes you probably wouldn't do with a big one. For example, close and fast FMA styles like eskrido use lots of abanikos, doblados etc.
I don't see heavy weapon work hurting one's efforts, though.
Lots of repetition with a focus on solid technique always worked for us.
The old "slow is smooth, smooth is fast" thing.
Heavy sticks definitely helped with endurance and a bit of speed, but nothing like simply becoming so proficient at the moves that you could just whip them out.
I've also found that having someone swing their stick at you full speed is one hell of a motivator for sharpening reflexes. ;)
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