Bruce’s Speed Concepts

I have talked a lot about speed and its value to training. Bruce said, and I agree, that if you had to train in only one thing, overall speed would be it. Power is already there. I do not care if a person weights a hundred pounds, they have enough natural power to drop anyone, if they use it with proper striking technique (powerline, access, target). Speed is a critical technique and will be, or should be, in everyone’s self defense tool pouch. Science tells us that speed added to mass in motion creates higher energy. If you take a two pound hammer and tap something, using only it’s weight, it will do very little. If you add speed to the hitting motion, it can be very destructive. With speed, that hundred pound individual can become a hundred pound sledge hammer. Every sport places speed high in its order of training. However, the type of speed is relative to its application. A runner, off the block, trains different than a ping pong player or a boxer. Once you define the type of speed you need, you can establish the proper drills. Bruce did not just train in any random fashion, he always stepped back and reviewed the different elements of the technique. He would identify the elements that required speed versus those that required flow and strength. Speed to entry and engage, was critical, but the flow after engagement was not. Bruce would first establish the proper entry technique and then once he was satisfied, add speed. This is why he treated speed as an art by itself. Speed was a special quality that appeared in some form within every technique. He saw the necessity to break speed down into different application, such as explosive speed, soft speed and controlling speed. Explosive speed was technique that went from zero to 100% in a nano-second blast, soft speed was part of Spring Energy that melted with the opponents energy and flowed with the subtle power of water carving out a canyon. Controlling speed, was the ability to guide the opponents attacking energy into immobilizing traps. The flip side to motion speed was reaction speed. This was Bruce’s unique ability, above most people. He had a phenomenal ability to know when something was about to happen and respond. It was like hitting the light bulb before the electrical energy went from the switch to the bulb. It was, not seeing, but feeling a change in the opponents energy that triggered Bruce. Bruce recognized every technique had a beginning. If you studied how the body set-up for the technique, then you could identify the seed of motion, before it flowered out into a technique. Bruce did not care if you were going to punch or kick, he just knew something was in the process of happening and he would respond. To me, Bruce’s general motion speed was very, very fast. But, so are most Olympic level athletes, who train for the Gold. Bruce stood above them, because he had no lag time. There was no space between the time he felt an action was starting and his reply, it was as it was only one response. Bruce also felt that speed of motion needed a clear path to follow and that any tension created bumps and barriers to go over or around. He felt being relaxed allowed for maximum flowing speed, with power only needed when you reach your target. Many of our training sessions involved exploring the ups and downs of speed and power and their relationship to technique. I teach these basic speed concepts since they are part of the legacy of Bruce Lee.
An interesting by-product of proper speed training is how it affects your daily life. I teach the electro-chemical approach to speed. It is the pure startle response or the fight or flight reaction to a sudden potential, but unknown threat. This physical response is triggered from a hormone called adrenaline and triggers the mind and body to instant alarm. No matter how hard you train, you cannot attain pure startle speed, unless you access a direct link to the adrenal response.
There are many body reactions that prepare it for survival, but it is the minds response that is often overlooked. The mind, in a normal everyday alert “Beta” state, spikes electrical activity at about 30 Hrz per second. When the survival alarm activates the brain, it jumps to the “Gamma” level or up to 70 or hundred Hrz per second. This accelerated state seems to make time slow down so the mind can absorb, as quickly as possible, the source and kind of threat, so it can respond correctly. Training this faster mental state, conditions the mind/body to respond to everyday occurrences quicker and with more clarity. I have had many students, over the years, tell me of instances where they responded to stress situations much faster than normal, especially in law enforcement and military. The beauty of training and controlling the Pure Startle response is that it is a natural reaction and therefore will be permanent, once the trigger is imprinted correctly. That is why Bruce maintained his phenomenal speed till the very end.

1.Pure speed. Lasts for only a split second.
2.Fuel for technique.
3.You will add the startle to a learned technique.
4.Saves training time.
5.Only startle if loose and at zero.
6.Instant mental change from Beta into the Gamma state.
7.Like an animals response to flight or fight.
8.Imagine a sensitive trigger that activates a spasm from head to toe.
9.Relax; explode, loosely throughout the entire range of motion.
10.Jerk through the entire system.