by Bruce Lee and M. Uyehara
What is speed in fighting? Is it the velocity of your hands, feet and body movement? Or are there other, prevalent essentials in a good fighter? What is a good fighter? A good fighter is one who can hit his opponent quicker, harder, without much perceptible effort, and yet avoid being hit. He doesn't only possess a pair of fast hands and feet and quick body movement, but he has other qualities such as non-telegraphic moves, good coordination, perfect balance and keen awareness. Although some people are endowed with a few of these qualities, most of these attributes are developed through hard training. All the strength or power you have developed from your training is wasted if you are slow and can't make contact. Power and speed go hand-in-hand. A fighter needs both to be successful. One immediate way to increase your speed at impact is to "snap" or "whip" your hand just before contact. It is the same principle as the overhand throw. For example, if you throw a baseball with a full swing and snap your wrist at the last moment or the tail end of your swing, the ball will have more velocity than without the snap. Naturally, the longer swing with a snap will have more acceleration at the end than a shorter swing with a snap.
Speed in Punching
The backfist is not the quickest or strongest technique because you can't utilize your entire body in the movement. It is, however, one blow that you can apply the whipping or snapping motion to. The backfist is usually thrown at your opponent's head, and it is used heavily in combination with lop sao (grabbing -the-hand techniques). It is delivered from shoulder height but can also be used as a surprise attack and can be launched anywhere from your waist to your shoulder. It is very difficult to block once you have acquired non-telegraphic moves. Although some power is lost in this punch, it is compensated for or redeemed when combined with lop sao. If you can develop a strong pulling power in your arm, you will be able to jerk your opponent forward and apply the backfist. The impact should be devastating. Candle Drill
To develop speed or quickness in the backfist, light a candle and attempt to extinguish it with the acceleration of your punch.
Another interesting exercise is to have a partner attempt to block your punch as you throw it at his face. If he misses his block, you should be able to stop your punch about 1/4-inch from his skin. Finger Jab
The leading finger jab is the fastest attacking weapon available to you. It is fast because it travels only a short distance. It is also the longest hand weapon accessible to you. Since you do not clench your fist, you add several more inches to your reach. To protect your fingers while throwing this technique, make sure you use the proper hand form. Align the tip of your hand by slightly bending the longer fingers to adjust to the shorter fingers and tuck your thumb in. Your hand should resemble a spear.
To develop speed in the finger jab, you need a great deal of practice and initiative. Speed relies on economy of motion, and the jab is one technique you have the opportunity to experiment with. The jab, like all jeet kune do blows, must be thrust forward without any retracting motion. It is like a snake darting at its prey without warning.
The more hours you spend speed hitting, the faster your hands will travel. One excellent training device for this is the paper target. It is inexpensive, easy to construct and valuable Leading Straight
The leading straight is the fastest of all the punches. Not only is it the main offensive weapon, but it's also an important defensive tool.
And it is a "speed" punch. Like the finger jab, the leading straight travels only a short distance to the target because the hand is already extended.
The leading straight is also the most accurate technique because it is delivered straight forward at a close distance, and...