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Joined: 13 Feb 2003
Posts: 6154
Location: Upstate NY
Styles: TKD;Shotokan;JuJitsu;Tai Ji

PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2006 6:00 am    Post subject: Book Review: Speed Training for Martial Arts Reply with quote

The author, J.Barnes, states that he has developed his theories of speed training after more than twenty years of studying the martial arts and spending time growing up in a rough city environment. His quest for knowledge and awareness has been sparked by the many physical and mental transformations he has made along the way; and he seeks to share his secrets and advanced training methods to students wishing to excel in the areas of completion and self defense. This book - or guide - was written to help the martial artist find the “truth” about developing speed as speed is a key attribute for success in these areas and reaction speed is often the sole difference between winning and losing a physical confrontation. He states that after reading this guide you will know how to train effectively and be able to separate the “useful from the useless.”

Chapter 1: The Speed Loop

The exercises and drills presented in the book seem to be contingent on developing “The 7 Components of the Speed Loop” - a term coined by the author to describe his innovative speed training system. Maximum development of each component will help you achieve superior combat speed in a relatively short period of time. The components include reflexes and kinesthetic concepts that can be practiced using various drills that are discussed in the following chapters.

Chapter 2: Visual Reflexes

With a promise to decrease your reaction time to visual stimuli, this chapter focuses on eye exercises that include warming up, stretching of muscles and massage. He gives a basic overview of visual skills and most of the ensuing drills involve one or more training partners.

Chapter 3: Tactile Reflexes

Sensitivity training is not new to martial arts and the drills presented here may be familiar to most students of the martial arts. The author is working on the premise that “95% of all street fights” end up in the close distance or grappling range and therefore you need to use your hands to “see” the attacks coming. Drills such as push hands and blind folded wrestling are discussed.

Chapter 4: Auditory Reflexes

This chapter focuses on auditory reflexes and listening skills - basic ideas not unfamiliar to most non martial artists as well. The drills discussed are again partner oriented and he does give some practical advice for preventing hearing loss.

Chapter 5: Adaptation Speed

This chapter outlines his theory about developing mental reflexes and “adaptation speed” in order to have effective techniques in a confrontation with the idea being to improve the quickness and accuracy of your movements. Escrima (stick fighting) drills are suggested as well as focus mitt work and good old fashioned mixed sparring drills. Changing it up frequently seems to be the key here.

Chapter 6: Initiation Speed

Quickness and explosiveness are discussed in this chapter as well as drills and concepts that will “ensure the connection of your attack to the opponent before a counter move can be attempted.” Principles of relaxation, meditation, economy of movement and explosiveness are discussed and easy drills are presented for practice.

Chapter 7: Movement Speed

The author defines movement speed as the ability to quickly transition from one point to another, as determined by the ability to contract and relax your muscles efficiently. This chapter discusses this theory and drills are suggested to improve explosion, retraction, and flow - with flexibility being the “secret” ingredient.

Chapter 8: Alteration Speed

Stated to be a “valuable safeguard”, alteration speed involves the ability to change directions in the midst of a movement - essentially having control and balance in your techniques. The ensuing discussion involves general ideas and drills regarding balance and kinesthetic awareness that should increase your ability to counter during a fight should you find yourself under attack.

Chapter 9: Speed Hampering

Speed hampering is generally anything you can do to slow your opponents reactions to your attacks. This chapter revolves around his reaction time theory and offers strategies to develop this skill. The use of feints and distractions are discussed but no drills are offered.

Chapter 10: Supplemental Speed Training

This “bonus chapter” is included to help you maximize the components of the “Speed Loop” you have developed through the drills presented in the book. It’s basically a chapter on physical fitness and its importance to the martial artist. He covers basic strength training, flexibility, stamina and diet.

Summary and Review

It took me a while to get through this book, not because it’s difficult reading but because I had trouble getting into the content. Perhaps it is because I had a pre-conceived idea of what the subject matter entailed and I had a certain expectation that was never fulfilled or perhaps the writing style did not capture my attention, i.e.: large type, excessive spacing, fragmented thoughts and subject matter, etc.

The author does give a good introduction to speed training but the ensuing chapters lack detail and leaves you wanting more information - very frustrating for a martial artist looking for additions to knowledge and more "tricks of the trade"! The premise of the book seems to be the "Speed Loop" - a concept that I never found fully explained within the pages and left me wondering what they were as I found eight concepts discussed in the book not seven.

I found the book to contain very basic training concepts and drills such as: strength training, stretching and flexibility, diet and nutrition, shadow boxing, balance, timing, feinting, relaxation and explosion - all of which were presented for the beginning martial artist rather than a seasoned veteran (most martial artists will have been exposed to these theories and drills in regular training). There are chapters on developing auditory reflexes and visual sensory drills that I did find interesting, but again very general in nature.

In short, this book is an adequate starting point for the beginner and the drills contained in it may be useful although most drills require a training partner which may not be feasible for many. In addition it may be a good resource for instructors looking for classroom ideas.

I give it 2 belts out of 5!

Title: Speed Training for Martial Arts: How to Maximize Speed for Competition and Self-Defense
Author: J. Barnes
Publisher: Fitness Lifestyle

Buy it at
"A Black Belt is only the beginning."
Heidi-A student of the arts
Tae Kwon Do,Shotokan,Ju Jitsu,Modern Arnis
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KF Administrator

Joined: 01 May 2001
Posts: 27128
Location: Los Angeles, California

PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2006 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the submission.
Patrick O'Keefe - Administrator
Have a suggestion or a bit of feedback relating to Please contact me! Articles - Awards - Member of the Month - User Guidelines
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Killer Miller
Brown Belt
Brown Belt

Joined: 29 Nov 2002
Posts: 732
Location: California
Styles: JKA Shotokan

PostPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice review NinjaNurse...

It's great to see an honest review of actual reading content and not hype in order to be polite.


- Killer -
Mizu No Kokoro
Shodan - Nishiyama Sensei
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KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 27914
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2006 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very nice review. Thanks a bunch!
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