Speed is the ability to perform a movement within a short period of time. Most sports have some sort of speed component. The team or individual who is the fastest is usually the one who scores more points/goals/ runs. Speed is important in Krav Maga for a few reasons. First, in order to defend yourself from an attacker you have to make your defense in a very short period of time. The slower you are at defending yourself, the more time your attacker has to attack and control you.
The thing that makes Krav Maga self-defense so effective is that you, the practitioner, are trained to not only defend against and respond to a strong attacker with speed, but not to stop responding until the situation has been neutralized or you are able to get away from it safely. Not only is it important to defend with speed, but you also want to counterattack with speed as well. The faster you can send punches and knees, the harder it will be for your opponent to see them coming.
If you are tense you are slow. You must learn to be non-telegraphic. For example, when you turn on the light switch, the movement is easy, fast; there is no tension. Why? Because you have no reason to tense up. If you were to punch someone this way you would find your punch to be very fast, very non-telegraphic, you would hit your target before your opponent could react. Why? A relaxed arm moves much faster than a tense arm. The same is true of defense. I keep my hands open, this way I am more relaxed and I can respond better, be like an echo. When my hands are closed tight into a fist I react slower.
It is possible to increase your speed by working on your punches and kicks while focusing on making them faster. What you must realize is that when there is an increase in speed there can be a loss of force behind your attacks, which can translate into a lack of power. If you are concentrating purely on increasing your speed, this may not be such a problem. If you want to increase your striking power, however, which should be a goal in your Krav Maga training, compromising the force of your attacks for the sake of increasing your speed may not be the best of ideas. A lack of power behind your strikes will result in your inflicting less damage to someone who may be trying to hurt you.
One excellent drill is to get a couple of light weights, dumbbells, and punch in the air. After this put down the weights and try punching a bag, or in the air, you will find that you punch faster. Allow your muscle memory to “remember” this light and easy feeling whenever you punch. I have found that relaxing drills, in the mind, greatly improved my speed and reaction time.
You can take just about any skill and work on making it faster. If you want to make your left-right punch combinations faster, you should work on that combination while focusing on speed and technique. You can increase the number of punches you throw in rapid succession in order to challenge yourself, repeating six alternating straight punches and doing so over and over with the intention of making them as fast as possible without neglecting proper technique!