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March 31, 2023

Slowing Down to Speed up

Jason Kramer

Slowing Down to Speed up

Famed lawman Wyatt Earp once said, “Fast is fine, but accuracy is final. You must learn to be to be slow in a hurry.”

Oftentimes we lose a position, sweep angle, grip or finish because we got submission fever. It’s common to become too focused on the end result and end up passing by the steps necessary to make it work. Going slow with precision and purpose makes technique devastating when sped up.

Another way this principle has been expressed, and largely credited to Naval Special Warfare for coining the phrase, is “slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.” In order to apply this principle to make our techniques and strategies better, we need a training partner willing to endure a lot of slow repetitions until it’s smooth and can’t be don’t incorrectly. Then we start to pour some speed.

Just don’t speed up too fast and lose the precision you’ve built. Once it becomes quicker and more consistent, we need to pressure test our technique.  Afterall, what good is a technique if it only works on a cooperative training partner?

Take time for quality

Think about learning to drive, reading or learning an armlock. It has to begin by slowly learning how to sound out the letters into words, words into sentences and ultimately sentences into literacy. It would be reckless to give a 15 year old with no driving experience a 1000 horsepower car and give them no more direction than accelerate, steer or brake. The consequences would be fatal.

Same with learning a new language. It is most difficult when people speak too quickly. We need time for our technique to catch up to the pace of play.  Yet, for some reason, we think when we’re sparring we need to mash the gas pedal, skim over things and get right to the action.

It can work. Horsepower can mask imperfect driving, but to truly understand a technique or sequence requires us to make sure we get it right. Then, when we’re in real time it’s easy. The more we slow down the more we perfect our timing, and timing always beats speed alone.

As we become more competent, our speed and timing make our techniques much more difficult to stop.  Most people are quick enough or strong enough. We don’t need to practice going faster or harder. That’s already there for you.

When you slow down and practice deliberately until you can speed back up, like practicing scales in music, you’ll see your game take off. A good way to incorporate this into your practice is join the flow roll Sundays before open mat.

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