Speed is undoubtedly a desirable attribute for any martial artist. The ability to move your mass quickly from point A to point B allows you more opportunity for effective and powerful striking. However, if speed were the only needed quality in order to be a skilled martial artist every energetic 20 year old would be a 10th Dan Grandmaster. how is that 60 year old experts can take these youngsters to task time after time?
One of their ‘secrets’ is variable acceleration.
Let’s say a hypothetical person knows how to strike very quickly, but only really knows how to fight at his/her top speed. Sure this person may experience occasional success, especially against unskilled opponents, but crafty fighters will tune into their timing and figure them out in short order. Then, despite their raw speed, they will become predictable and easier to defeat.
If, however, that same person knew when to appear slow and when to truly be fast, he/she would add a layer of depth to their fighting. They would have captured the basic component of variable acceleration.
Knowing when and how to accelerate into an opponent is one of the hallmarks of outstanding fighters. But one arena in which this strategy seems to be neglected is kobudo. I have found that many weapon users slip into ‘clubbing’ mode as soon as they get an implement in their hand, and lose all the subtlety of their empty handed arts. Check out this video as I explain how to add some variable acceleration into rokushaku bo fighting:
At first applying this concept to kobudo can be tricky because things seem to happen very quickly and dangerously. If you are a student of kendo you are acutely aware of how fast a strike can come in. But even kendo players pretend at being slow or vulnerable by creating various suki (gaps) in order to entice actions, which they can deflect and then explode into their opponent. Over time you gain a sense of how weapons can be used, and what tactics will keep you safe. you can then begin to add more complexity into your combatives, including variable acceleration.
There are times when a flurry of activity is appropriate, but then there are other times when a calm mind combined with one blindingly accelerated punch/kick/strike will do the trick. In the realm of weapons, this is particularly so as age and physical capacity are evened out by the unforgiving result of a single weapon strike.