Karate people seem to like to talk about speed a whole lot. Most of the time they are not sufficiently careful about how they use this term. Speed can mean several things. Imprecise language is not very helpful in deciding (for example) how to punch in a given situation or even in determining how best to train. Here are a few things that people conflate when talking about speed:

  1. Interception speed. “Can your punch get to your opponents head before hers gets to yours?”
  2. Initiation speed. “How quickly can the technique be launched?
  3. Velocity relative to the target. “How fast is your fist moving in relation to its target?”
  4. Velocity relative to the origin. “How fast is your punch moving in relation to its starting point in space?”
  5. Acceleration. The change in velocity over time.
  6. Period of technique. “How fast can the technique be extended and recovered?

Being clear with speed talk will simplify all sorts of karate talk. Keep in mind that training to improve the results in one category will not necessarily improve results in all categories.


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