“Why do you go so slow? How does this help you if the guy is coming at you crazy fast?”
You’ve all heard this. It’s a common critique of internal martial arts. People often hold up the slow training of internal martial arts as an example of why the arts won’t work in real life.
First off, slow is not the only speed we train at.
It’s just one speed.
Second, slow training has a host of benefits that you can’t get with any other method.
It’s interesting that so many people don’t recognize this obvious point. Other difficult skills like playing an instrument are built on a foundation of slow practice. So much so, that any guitar player I ever met would say it was the secret to great playing. Anybody who didn’t say that? They’re guitar playing sucked. Consistently.
There’s one benefit to slow training in particular that I want to highlight because it’s something that beginners often take too long to understand and is easy for intermediate and advanced practitioners to forget.
Slow training teaches you to “keep your eyes open.”
When I say this, I don’t mean to literally not close your eyes (although this is also recommended). What I mean is that when a person gets overwhelmed because of fear, they will often “close their eyes.” They stop actively perceiving what is going on and become purely reactive.
They flail a lot.
It might work now and again, but it’s not your ticket to high level skill.
High level skill is built on control and perception. It’s built on a person’s ability to intelligently respond to an event. The more a person can perceive about an attack, the easier it is to respond.
So how do you build this perception? You may have guessed where this is going.
Slow training gives you the opportunity to open your eyes, watch what is happening, and respond. It gives you the opportunity to take each moment and hold it under a microscope to see what is going on, both with your eyes and your sense of touch.
Think of it like movie film. The more frames per second in the film, the smoother everything looks. This is like what slow training is building. It helps you see in more frames per second.
If you’ve built this perception ability at the slow speed, then you build it at faster speeds. You have to be careful to “keep your eyes open” though at the faster speeds. You have to discipline yourself to stay calm and watch what is happening.
“What if the guy’s coming at you crazy fast?”
If you’ve trained this, you see everything. Going slow is precisely what builds your ability to perceive what happens at full speed.
Join Clear’s Tai Chi Online to learn the drills and exercises that turn slow training into crazy fast skill.