By Michelle Hodnett
Project Dojo is a nonprofit community outreach program in Pueblo, Colorado, that works with at-risk children. Through the power of martial arts, Project Dojo seeks to inspire and motivate kids within a safe environment, while continuing to teach the traditions of martial arts. This is the story of Project Dojo co-founder Michelle Hodnett’s experiences in her martial arts journey.
The Century Foldaway Speed Bag Platform & Leather Speed Bag is an excellent tool to build hand-eye coordination as well as speed and endurance. Speed bag training beneficial to all ages and all levels of martial artists, for several reasons:
All of these things will benefit your students of ANY ages! But because this product is typically associated with adults, using it with kids can require a few “hacks.” Read on to find out how Project Dojo kids are learning new skills with the Speed Bag!
First things first – here’s how to set up your Speed Bag!
Height Adjustment Feature
Install the Speed Bag Platform by bolting into a sturdy wall like concrete. After mounting, it’s super-easy to adjust the height by simply turning the cog.
It’s important that your speed bag is adjustable if being used by more than one person. This makes the bag itself usable by both the really tall and the really small!
As a general rule, the bag should be positioned three inches above the user’s head.
Occasionally, you’ll have that child who can’t quite reach, so we made our own DIY platform lift. It’s a standard wooden palette, that we sanded, painted, and lacquered. In addition to the boost it gives the user a visual marker with painted feet to put the user in correct form. And the spacing of their feet has to be correct or they’ll slide off.
The foldaway and adjustable features are one of the many things that make this speed bag unique and perfect for your dojo. When running an active school space can be limited. Storing bags, shields and other equipment can cause clutter. It’s wonderful that you can simply put the bag flat against the wall when it’s not in use. When you do need it, the speed bag is easy to pull out from the wall and ready to go within seconds!
Add a new training angle
In martial arts, your students will end up sparring a variety of opponents. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get them used to reacting to different patterns.
You can easily change up the way your speed bag reacts to punches with a simple hack. Get a weighted fitness bag (these are great because they’re small yet dense, but padded enough that on the off chance they do fall, they’re less likely to cause damage) and put it securely on top of the platform. This will change the bounce of the bag when it strikes the back of the platform, giving it a quicker recoil and different feel, forcing students to adjust their reaction time.
Time to Work that Bag!
The great thing about the speed bag is that it’s as simple to use as it is set up. To get a student started on the bag, have them drop into a boxing stance: their right side should be back (if they are right-handed), weight on the balls of their feet, and hands up by their face.
If your students have a hard time remembering to keep their hands up, speed bag training is great for them. Explain to them that they will be able to strike more quickly if their hands stay up by their face, rather than dropping to their side, between punches.
The basic drill we teach is called Double Tap. Loosen up your arms and hands, then strike the speed bag two times in a row with each fist, slowly building your speed.
After you get the rhythm of the double tap, go to Hand-over-Hand. You/your students will really start to gain speed with this. One hand is up guarding the face, while the other is six inches from the face, striking the bag. Both hands should be in front of your head, where you can see them, at all times (you’re not looking at your hands, but being able to see them provides a visual reminder to students that they should not be dropping/drawing back their hands too far). Continue to “circle” your hands, striking the bad continuously.
Tell your students working Hand-over-Hand to not stop just because they miss one strike. Instead, tell them to focus on regaining the rhythm as quickly as possible.
The final stage of using a speed bag is to throw punching Combinations. One of our favorites is Jab-Cross-Hook, reset. It’s a different feel than striking a heavy bag!
The speed bag isn’t limited to punches only. Be creative and use roundhouse kicks and elbow strikes!
Want more on these drills? Here's a video we made at Project Dojo, showing the set-up:
Michelle Hodnett is the co-founder of Project Dojo. She is a third-degree black belt with over 15 years experience as an instructor.
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