Which is more important? Speed? Power? Accuracy? They’re all important, separately and together.
Many karateka, especially those in the beginner or intermediate stages of their training wrestle with each of these. Sometimes they have to be practiced separately. As one grows in skill and knowledge, they all come together into a well-executed techniques.
What do instructors and tournament judges look to see most?
How should they be practiced?
There are many more questions revolving around these three aspects of our practice and our kata. Did you ever notice how beginning students rush through their kata? They think that speed is good! With that in their minds, their technique is poor with little power in their movements.
Have you ever seen the student who tries to exhibit power but their kata appears stiff and slow?
Or how about the karateka who kicks very hard and fast but has no idea where the kick will land (or that they should even have a target)?
Instructors emphasize speed, power, and accuracy at different times. The importance depends on the purpose of the lesson in that particular class. If it’s a new kata, accuracy might be more important, such as punching to the right target at the right time, and understanding the stances and the sequences. Power and speed will come as the student becomes more familiar with the new kata and makes connections with others they have learned and learn to visualize an opponent. Preparing for a tournament may be a reason to emphasize speed and power since that is what so many judges look for.
Generally, I focus more in accuracy. Learning how to execute a technique correctly and ensuring that it is delivered to the desired location is most important to me. Once the student has developed good accuracy, then we gradually work on speed, and their speed and accuracy together. You don’t want to lose what you learned in the process.
As the speed increases in a controlled and thoughtful manner, so does the power. As both power and speed increase we continue to monitor the accuracy of the delivery.
A fast and powerful punch or kick that is off target is of no use, and exposes weak points that an opponent can use. A powerful block that misses its target has no value. The key is to deliver a powerful technique with speed and accuracy.
As students move up in rank, it is plain to see that they combine speed, accuracy, and power in a way that makes their kata both interesting to watch and demonstrates their knowledge of the kata.
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