You must go slow! Slow is the mother of skill!- Professor Remy Presas.

Professor used to admonish those of us who rushed into new techniques. He wanted us to have good form and structure before worrying about speed and structure. Wise words.

I often train slow for smoothness, fluidity, and to self-diagnose any structural defects in my technique. I train slow, smooth, and relaxed to find that 1% improvement.

Even Steve Austin went slow. πŸ™‚

I generally mix up speeds when training. I believe that if you train at only one speed, you are missing out on the benefits of training at other speeds. That said, there are great benefits from slow training.

Here are 6 reasons to go slow:

(1) Work every detail: going slow ensures that you are paying attention to all the details of a technique. Do you have a good stance? Are you moving your feet correctly? Where is your check hand? Are you using the stick in the most optimal way?

(2) Muscle memory: going slow seems to increase “muscle memory.” Taking your time in going through a technique or an anyo seems to increase your retention. If you just rush through something only a few times, how likely is it that you will remember the next day? Take your time. I once timed myself doing 10 repetitions Naihanchi Shodan at slow to moderate speed. It took me all of 5 minutes.

Let me repeat: 10 repetitions of Naihanchi Shodan at slow to moderate speed took me only 5 minutes.

Ponder that.

Can you slow yourself down for 5 minutes and just work a technique slowly and patiently? You will benefit greatly from this approach.

See the below video of LeBron James learning spin moves from Hakeem Olajuwon. Notice how he’s taking the time to learn new skills?

(3) See your own mistakes: if you rush through a technique, it is likely you will not notice the multitude of mistakes you are making. If you take the time to go slow, you will then notice the mistakes, big and small, that you are making. Correct those mistakes.

(4) See the possible counters: If your partner is smart enough to go slow, you then have the opportunity to spot possible counters. The key is to stay engaged and actively look for those possible counters. If you are not engaged, you could be missing out on a golden opportunity to train your mind.

(5) See the muscular tension disappear: Often those who rush through a technique think that they are relaxed. When told that they need to relax during a technique, they often furrow their brows and protest that they are relaxed. How many of you have seen this?

Going slow has the magical effect of relaxing the players. Amazing, isn’t it?

(6) Eliminate competition: By going slow, you are focusing on building skill and not on “winning.” A good example of de-emphasizing winning is the slow rolling practiced in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. By taking competition out of training, you are focusing on your skill set.

I often emphasize to my students the need to train skill rather than get competitive.

Although the below video is long, it gives a good overview. The emphasis is on training skill, not on “winning.”  It’s all about the training.

Over to you, can you give other reasons for training slow?

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3 thoughts on “6 Reasons To Go Slow

  • July 22, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    One of the things I love best about practicing on my own is I can go as slowly as I need to. It is one of the most valuable things I can do for my Karate – not to mention for my joints. Yep, if I’m going slowly, I’m likely to find out that a sloppy stance is putting undue stress on (for instance) my knee. There is a plus side to having a middle-aged body – it protests under stress and if I’m going slowly, I’ll be clued into what it’s saying πŸ™‚

    That said, I’ve finally run into a movement that I absolutely cannot execute slowly unless I go to the moon (even then I’m not sure a spacesuit would allow me the freedom of movement I need). It’s a jump in a kata. I can practice the setup for it. I can get into the maneuver’s conclusion and feel what that’s supposed to be like. But once I’m up in the air with that jump (and one does need some “air”), I don’t have the luxury of slow. I think this jump is meant to get us 7th kyu students to go beyond our comfort zone in a way we’ve never encountered before. There are places on the rock climbing wall at the YMCA that do exactly that as well – you can’t go slowly, you have to scramble. Coincidentally I started rock climbing around the same time I was taught the new kata with THE JUMP πŸ™‚

    • July 22, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      Hey thanks for stopping by again and commenting on my post. Yes, I completely agree with you about one of the benefits of solo training in that you can go slowly as you need to. I’m middle aged and can identify with exactly what you said about the pain issue. πŸ™‚ Too bad that you can’t jump slow like the Bionic Woman or the Six Million Dollar Man. πŸ™‚

  • July 23, 2015 at 12:33 am

    Remy always reminded me of a ballroom dancer, he was so smooth, “first you do like this, then you do like that, slow and graceful He would go slow so all could see then speed it up. I was training at a Kempo school when Ann Kileen (auburn school teacher, teaching Kajukenbo through the parks dept. at the time) introduced me to the professor. What an impression he made on me. At Kempo it was faster-faster-faster. I would try train slow motion to get the feel, but this school discouraged that. Remy showed me how to flow. He would say go slow-smooth-then you learn, you are going very fast. you understand the movement because you make it yourself.


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