Category Archives: Sports Science

On your marks 3

A comment on the last post, made by John of Massachusetts, indicated that the clip of the elite level Shotokan fighters did show fast Shotokan techniques delivered from traditional stances, that’s the gist anyway. I chose the clip precisely because of the high standard of the fighters. While these fighters are able to deliver fast punches and kicks, the stance they adopt, fudo dachi I think,  fails to support fast positional movement. In order to successfully make ground quickly they need to adjust the starting position before they move.  If you observe the video carefully you will notice this adjustment.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkGP0AM14F0&rel=0&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&feature=player_embedded&fs=1]

This adjustment, particularly from the bounce, rapidly shifts the fighter through the equivalent of the get set and go phases of the sprint start. Bouncing up and down in the starting posture does not provide the correct lower leg angle to propel the fighter forward with plyometric action at the ankle curtailed.Does that make sense?

If we return to the sprint start analogy, the get set phase positions the sprinter to explode out of the blocks, the bouncing stance does not position the karateka to explode, an adjustment is required. The sanbon kumite of the original grisly clip provides even less opportunity for explosive movement as the plyometric action is completely absent. To illustrate what I mean follow this link to an article analyzing the blocks start of Usain Bolt, notice how the angle at the ankle of the right foot changes as he begins the movement, it goes back before moving forward. This is the plyometric action or the stretch shortening cycle, which greatly increases power. The starting position in the blocks completely supports this; forward posture and lower leg angle.

The Karate fighters in the clip tend to move from a position that is not set up to support explosive movement, of course the blocks position is impossible to attain but nevertheless the fighting stances they adopt have limited forward posture and usually have a less than ideal lower leg angle. This results in them having to make an adjustment before they can explode out of the blocks, as it were. It’s the equivalent of not being in the blocks properly when the gun goes.

zkd comp On your marks 3Despite this drawback the bouncing is clearly more dynamic than the stiff movement of sanbon kumite although the starting stance is not too different to that used in sanbon. Note the centralised weight, supporting stability rather than mobility.

 On your marks 3

To achieve the equivalent of the starting blocks position the fighting posture needs to support rapid positional movement, with the weight forward and a lower leg angle supportive of a plyometric action similar to that in the Usain Bolt link. Clearly, that would be better than adopting a posture that requires a big adjustment before rapid movement can be achieved.

While the fighters in the clip above start in a sub-optimal position they still move quickly, this is achieved through a lot of feinting and minute positional adjustment to draw the opponent into making a half movement against which they can time their strike. While the rules of the tournament are far removed from street fighting there is still plenty of skill on show. The timing and distancing is very good and this is what Machida has successfully taken to MMA, but thats another post.

Originally posted 2009-11-06 15:00:22. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Screaming: Beyond the Karate Breaking Demonstration

A strong ‘hi-ya’ Kiai is commonly associated with spectacular Karate breaking demonstrations and is the subject of the following video. Taken from the Sports Science series the video shows an investigation into the scream of the ‘breaking’ world champion. The scientists test whether the scream is necessary in the production of power delivered into the slabs being broken. They cite the use of screams by weightlifters and tennis players to suggest the use of screaming as a tool to develop power.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoZQD4djwW0[/youtube]

The test would seem to provide some proof that screaming is required to maximise power production in Karate breaking demonstration. The trouble with these sort of programs is that they like to generalise from findings with individuals which is obviously flawed. There are many problems with their conclusion that screaming improves your power by 25%, not least the dodgy maths! The bloke in the video managed 500lbs of force more with screaming than without; this equates to a third of the non-screaming amount of 1500lbs, or about 33%.  Then there is no consideration of the type of scream, the tennis players scream is shorter than that of the weight lifter. I could go on.

While flawed, the findings are nevertheless interesting, as are the explanation of how the effect works. Although simplistic, the explanation that a scream can enhance “the complex combination of physics, body chemistry and performance psychology” is intriguing and certainly has a ring of truth about, especially given the subjects results.

karate breaking Screaming: Beyond the Karate Breaking Demonstration

from martialartsbusinessdaily.com

Although not all tennis players or weightlifters scream during their shots/lifts many do and certainly in other sports people scream too. The Karate Kiai is an obvious example as is the grunt/scream of boxers, such as Ricky Hatton. During my training at Primal I picked up the habit of screaming, or rather barking, while hitting or kicking for that matter. Different to a scream as such I find it an excellent way to concentrate the mind and body interaction into a powerful strike.

There is no one size fits all scream as such, rather the intensity of the sound drives the intensity of the technique which is specific to different techniques. The scream or bark for a kick is different to that of a punch which is different depending on the range or duration, short or long. The actual sound itself can be used to get you going, i.e. enhance the force of a strike. And it can REALLY get you going! You can read more on the Vocalisation post from a while back.

Now, I can’t help but make a noise when I strike and when illustrating a detail often use a sound rather than a word, it can help someone get the idea more easily than a description and certainly enhances a demonstration. Suffice to say I’m a fan of screaming, or barking, and if I did karate breaking demonstrations I’d be screaming, that’s for sure!

Originally posted 2010-10-14 15:32:09. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Power Punching Tips: tai chi and martial arts science

A recent power punching tips post included the same video as this one (see below) and highlighted the use of great science in supporting claims of martial artists. This is in contrast to some of the flashy pseudo science programs you can see on cable channels. Don’t get me wrong some of them are interesting but most are more style over substance than anything else.

Further, some even contain flagrant errors, while they all seem to use flash looking animation to make the point. The animation tends to contain irritating science writing and formulas poping up all over the place, more for effect than anything esle. These programs can be interesting but the science backing them is often, well, incomplete. So the Tai Chi or more accurately Baji Quan master video is a welcome change as this is scientific lab work and much more pleasing.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN88QIsMHqA[/youtube]

The recent post only covered one of the findings the video highlights – ground reaction force, but omitted two others

  1. angular momentum to linear = whipping action
  2. impulse, contact time, short contact time = greater force

Power Punching Tips – whipping action

The biomechanics of the motion capture animation (much better than the human weapon effort) clearly illustrate the sequential action starting at the feet, transferring to the hips and then the shoulder before throwing the arm in a linear action. For me the angle from above illustrates the whipping punch action beautifully and so has great value.

Power Punching Tips – impulse
Working from Newtons second law the researchers state that force increases as the time of contact decreases and in this case the master appears to have as little as 25 milli seconds of contact time witht he target.

That is not a lot of contact time! This reminds me of a time when I was first trying to learn this kind of punching. I was used to regular karate push punching at the time and the whole thing was a bit confusing. The difference is that force applied with a push punch moves the target, while the type of punch that the master is doing ensures the force generated is left inside the target. Generally, it is more effective to leave the force inside the opponent, he/she feels it more.

one inch punch bl Power Punching Tips: tai chi and martial arts science

Bruce Lee's One inch punch

I remember being blown away by this at the time but I did manage to learn how to do this type of punch and can now deliver a lot more force to the target, which is great. Rapid relaxation after explosive tension at point of contact with the target is the key. This is one way of applying, certain of the one inch punch princples but should not be confused with the ‘tagging’ punches of semi-contact sport karate or similar.

While the power punching tips contained in this short video are hardly earth shattering they do lend legitimacy to the claims of martial artists such that ground reaction force, transfer of momentum and impulse are important in getting force into your target. It is extremely refreshing to see the use of sophisticated equipment to illustrate these points with greater validity than the majority of the flashy television efforts.

Originally posted 2011-02-25 03:29:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Movement Patterns

Steve Morris talks about the inherent movement patterns underlying human action, and importantly how these should form the basis for all martial arts movement. In fact not just martial arts movement but movement in all sports. He is referring to the successful actions that occur across a variety of sports and physical activities. An obvious one is running,  one arm pulls as the other pushes or as Steve might say, one part zigs as the other zags.

Another is jumping, a natural hardwired action that we all have access to. I am not referring to the Frosby flop, although that is likely to be an adaptation of some inherent movement pattern. Rather just a standard jump, bend at the ankles drop and power up pushing against the floor. If you want to adapt this to a backward flip in gymnastics, throw the head back to direct your movement and with practise this flip will be accomplished. Now if you take this backflipp action attach a person to yourself, by way of holding them tight to you, add a twist, with the head leading, the body will follow, and as if by magic you have a suplex. Ta da!

Here’s a clip og a gymnast doing a backflip, without jumping, the slo mo clearly show him leading the action with the head.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3DHBOw_fc0&hl=en&fs=1&]

This next clip shows a woman using a suplex to prevent her handbag being snatched in a lift, not sure if its real. Note she leaves out the twist and dumps the thief on his head!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TjDH0a0xBQ&hl=en&fs=1&]

It all sounds very sensible but it tends to be absent in my experience of martial arts, at least to some degree. This means that often optimal movement is curtailed at best or at worst completely negated. Take for example, the rather peculiar stances that are often contained in karate kata. In Seyunchin kata from Goju there is “bow and arrow” posture in shiko dachi, which I was taught to perform in a slow and deliberate manner when doing the kata and to use is as a rather convoluted takedown off a kick and a punch. While this could work with compliance its a long way off practical.

 Movement Patterns

Hanshi Meitoku Yagi performing Seiunchin

Steve Morris provides another explanation of this and similar karate postures. In his recent blog post he discusses the use of primative reflexes in martial arts, and at Primal yesterday he showed us some. The above picture is anexample of the asymmetric tonic neck reflex, would you believe. Sounds complicated but its not, taken from a reference provided in Steve’s blog entry, when the reflex is still aparent in babies with certain diseases if

the head is twisted in one direction, both the arm and the leg extend on the side toward which the head is pointing and flex on the opposite side

Admitedly, the reflex action in seiunchin kata is only occurring in the arms but it is there, as clear as day. Actually, it isn’t there because the movement is being performed in a manner that inhibits the reflex action, reflex movements by definition are quick. The point is that by using the head in a certain way these reflexs can be accessed, leading to improved striking. It adds up and given the historical representations (see below) of the asymmetric tonic neck reflex there’s at the very least a chance that this, accessing primitive reflexes, was what was meant by these postures in kata.

 Movement Patterns

Rajin, God of Thunder

Originally posted 2009-08-17 10:59:55. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Freeze, Fight, Flight and Martial Arts Training #2

The first freeze-fight-flight post described the physiological events triggered when threat or danger is perceived by humans. This post continues with the theme that the response is an essential part of evolutionary survival. We can think of the stress response as being responsible for surviving external threat, while the immune system counters internal threat.

 Freeze, Fight, Flight and Martial Arts Training #2

All charges against Omari Roberts dropped

In both cases the objective is to protect the system from threat by rearranging resources as appropriate. While an internal threat may trigger a withdrawal response when not feeling well, the external threat of a predator spied in the distance may evoke a freeze response, as movement is easier to detect in peripheral vision. Whatever, the desired outcome is survival of the system.

In terms of self-defence the stress response plays a key role. If attacked it renders us better prepared to respond as intended by evolution, with enhanced strength, speed or power. Undoubtedly, for Omari Roberts, returning home for lunch only to find burglars in his mums house, the stress response kicked in, he fought for his life and managed to survive. He went with nature.

In society there can be a mismatch between the drive for survival and the Law, which only allows the rather ambiguous reasonable force. If Roberts had worried about the consequences of overstepping reasonable force he may not have survived the attack. As it was one of the bad guys died in the struggle and eventually, Roberts was arrested and charged with murder and assault. The case was withdrawn before the trial commenced.

ground n pound Freeze, Fight, Flight and Martial Arts Training #2

Ground and Pound

In another recent case Munir Hussein and his brother ended up chasing and beating a burglar who had held the family hostage while ransacking their house. Clearly, evolution does not account for reasonable force, just survival. In anyone’s book the severe beating the brothers gave the burglar was NOT self-defence, nor simply survival for that matter. In this instance going with nature led to prison for Hussein as he went too primitive for societies liking, well the Judiciary ‘s liking anyway.

It seems that the whole thing can fall apart when a situation does not work out quite in line with evolution. If a person finds him/herself in a threatening situation it may not be appropriate to fight in the first instance, there are occasions whereby doing so would land the person in court, see above. Flight, although not always possible, would hopefully result in survival. This option might well achieve survival at the expense of the ego which is a small price to pay.  The consequences of an inappropriate freeze response could be much worse. There’s an almost limitless list of situations that could trigger an suboptimal freeze, fight or flight response, not least faulty appraisal of a dangerous or threatening situation or tactics from an experienced, ruthless attacker to name two.

Previous experience of surviving situations that cause the stress response to kick in is to the external survival system what surviving illness is to the internal survival (immune) system. For example, an experienced police officer is more likely to successfully deal with a violent confrontation than a receptionist, while a fireman is likely to deal with a fire disaster better than a librarian. If similar useful life experience has not been gleaned it is essential for a martial artist to build the equivalent into their training. Otherwise years of training could be rendered useless by the incompatibility of evolutions survival system with the foibles of modern society. The consequences of this could be dire.

Originally posted 2010-05-09 01:32:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Power Punching Tips: Throwing the Kitchen Sink

Dempsey 236x300 Power Punching Tips: Throwing the Kitchen Sink

Power Punching

We recently had a BJJ session with a very young coach who put together a great session for us. He really is a young man and is tiny, weighing only 50 kilos. His assistant told me how strong the coach was despite looking like he wasn’t. I mentioned that no-one would like to be hit with 50 kilos.

It’s an important point but is often forgotten when considering how to increase punching power. When looking at a 50 kilo, 5 foot 6 high bloke most of us would be forgiven for thinking he would not pose much of a threat but anyone that size still has the potential to cause damage.

Power Punching Tips – using your mass/weight

If you were in the way of a 50 kilo anvil travelling toward you at speed you’d be keen to move out of the way! Similarly, if stood on the top of a high building and said anvil was attached to your neck then thrown from the top of said high building you would probably follow it! While 50 kilo anvils pose little threat as they are usually restricted to cartoons, a person of equivalent weight also fails to impose a threat, unless this person was able to throw themselves at you in the manner of a cartoon or a baby falling from a window. The question is how to manage throwing the entire 50 kilo’s when power punching!

What would happen if a year-old baby fell from a fourth-floor window onto the head of a burly truck driver, standing on the sidewalk? It’s practically certain that the truckman would be knocked unconscious. He might die of brain concussion or a broken neck. Even an innocent little baby can become a dangerous missile WHEN ITS BODY-WEIGHT IS SET INTO FAST MOTION. – Jack Dempsey

Most people hold something back when power punching, even when they think they are giving it their all. This occurs for a number of reasons one being poor alignment and/or posture. Karate stances are often guilty of this as they tend to restrict the transfer of momentum into the target. This is pretty easy to correct and I have written about it elsewhere – on your marksgetting on the bus

mike tyson kos frank bruno 300x212 Power Punching Tips: Throwing the Kitchen SinkAnother way people fail to get everything into their punch is by holding back. It’s a weird thing and really is a hurdle that needs to be overcome. It’s not holding back by being lazy rather it’s more of a sub-conscious thing.

At Primal, on one occasion I remember being told that I was holding back when trying to hit a pad as hard as I could. I kept making adjustments but just couldn’t ‘get it’. It wasn’t like I was unable to produce power, my punches were hard, but the elusive extra was precisely that, elusive. It just didn’t feel like I was holding anything back although I was being told that I was. Frustrating!

Power Punching Tips – letting go!
Now, however, I know that I was AND I know that it was something that is difficult to describe because it is happening at a sub-conscious level. I think of this holding back as inhibition similar to that of stretch receptors which prevent severe overstretching in elongated muscles.

The body has numerous receptors with all manner of functions some of which are involved in stopping muscles stretching too far and tearing. If you slip on ice and end up doing the splits quickly receptors notice this and cause the legs to contract preventing the splits going too far, hopefully. If you are performing stretching exercises you must overcome this ‘block’, or inhibition, before you can stretch further.

In a similar way you have to overcome an internal inhibition to be able to maximize your punching power. One way to help overcome this ‘block’ is to imagine you are hitting someone you dislike intensely. We use this often and it does work, some people really get a boost from this taking them beyond regular power punching.

Originally posted 2011-02-11 03:22:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Our Amazing Feet

I recently wrote about the importance of the feet in the delivery of ground reaction force to the hands while striking. That is, by driving from the feet the power of a punch can be enhanced. I was reminded of this concept when skipping through an old text book Joint Structure and Function: A Comprehensive Analysis Our Amazing Feet
from the Functional Anatomy course I took at university.

It’s been a while since I had a good look at the anatomy of the foot and it struck me how amazing the structure is. Previously, I couldn’t imagine that the foot/ankle complex comprised of 28 bones which formed 25 joints. That’s incredible! I had always thought of the foot as a pretty solid structure with joints at the ankle and the toes, and very little else.

Obviously the foot/ankle complex has a weight bearing role within its stability and mobility functions. It provides the base of support for the body and acts as a lever for ‘push-off’ when initiating movement. During mobility it has a dampening effect of rotational movement while it’s flexibility helps absorb body weight  as the foot contacts the ground and contorts sufficiently to conform to the terrain on which it is placed. This contortion is what I want to consider in this post, although the other functions are intrinsically linked and cannot really be considered separate.

The structure forms three arches – medial longitudinal arch (on the inside), lateral longitudinal arch (outside) and the anterior arch (across the foot) -  which combine to allow the foot additional movement to simple extension and flexion* at the ankle  (more than just a hinge action at the ankle). Actually, an incredible range of motion across the foot/ankle complex is possible which is used during regular gait. The two diagrams below illustrate this nicely (from root2being)

pronation foot Our Amazing Feetsupination foot Our Amazing Feet

This means that the front portion of the foot can remain on the ground during extreme pronation and supination, thereby enabling optimal push-off at a variety of angles. Put simply the foot bends and twists, and internally compensates for the resultant contortion, to ensure we can push against the floor as long as possible in a given direction. This maximises traction at the front of the foot allowing ground reaction force to be transferred into the movement.

The amazing range of movement at the ankle and within the foot mean we can stay ‘grounded’, and so press against it, while moving and adjusting our position. Of course we need to be able to do ‘grounded’ in the first place and maintain it during movement.

Naturally, we press against the floor and can push off effectively in a variety of angles, when playing football for example. However, certain training methods in the martial arts,  can encourage us to use our feet less effectively than natures default. I often observe people who fail to use the feet while striking, they are often pointing away from the target allowing only a small portion of the foot to press against the floor in the optimal direction.

You wouldn’t use penguin feet to push a car, so why would you do the equivalent of this while striking?

*this motion at the ankle is known as dorsiflexion and plantarflexion

Originally posted 2010-04-04 21:39:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Freeze, Fight, Flight and Martial Arts Training

This is the first of two posts that describe the wonders of the human response to stress. Many people in martial arts refer to the stress response (or freeze, fight or flight) in a pretty negative manner. ‘Adrenaline dump’ is a term used to highlight a detrimental natural phenomenon that needs to be overcome during a self-defence situation. In fact, the stress response involves a complex integration of the body’s systems involving a powerful mix of neural and hormonal factors, preparing the system for survival.

caveman bbq Freeze, Fight, Flight and Martial Arts TrainingOriginally coined by Harvard physiologist Walter Cannon “fight-or-flight” response, later extended to include freeze, describes the body’s automatic response to perceived threat or danger. A product of evolution this in-built safety mechanism is designed to protect not harm us. For the caveman, threats were best dealt with by freezing, when movement could alert the threat to his presence, by fighting if the odds were in his favour, but if not by fleeing.

fightorflight Freeze, Fight, Flight and Martial Arts TrainingFor instance, when a caveman’s BBQ bison was on the go and a nearby monolithic bear smelt it, wanted it and came charging into the party uninvited, it’s a fair assumption that running away was the best option. If your survival mechanism wasn’t up to scratch you were bear food. Survival of the fittest ensured the stress response evolved to the marvel that it is. Unfortunately, in today’s society where bear threat is low, social stress and the freeze, fight or flight response are not compatible. Chronic social stress is a killer but acute stress in the form of danger from a potential attacker or impending disaster is not only valid but also highly valuable.

The stress response gives us the strength, power and speed to avoid physical harm to ourselves or significant others when we perceive danger. The sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system (the part responsible for subconscious body maintenance) initiates the fight-or-flight response, while the parasympathetic branch returns the body to homeostasis, calming us down and bringing everything back to normal in both emotional and physiological terms.

We perceive threat or danger, real or imagined and the sympathetic nervous system sets off a flood of emotional and physiological activity which enables us to increase power, speed and strength as required. The amygdala ‘sounds the alarm’ and the hypothalamus notifies all the other systems in the body via the nervous system, while instructing the endocrine system to begin the secretion of powerful hormones, mainly adrenaline and cortisol. These flood into the bloodstream and activate cells to aid the preparation to freeze, fight or flight.

This internal activity results in many complex changes with the purpose to divert resources from unnecessary functions to systems vital in the process of increasing speed, power and strength. These changes include increased heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, brain activity and blood flow being redirected to the muscles (vascular shunt) while digestion, the immune system and the reproductive system for example are switched off. We are hardwired to resist threat and be able to protect ourselves from danger. This system is poetry in motion, the stress response is a powerful, useful process which kicks in as reliably as flicking a switch once danger is perceived.

Martial Arts and the Freeze, Fight, Flight system part two

Originally posted 2010-05-03 00:58:24. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Physiological Arousal and Mushin

mushin1 Physiological Arousal and Mushin

mushin

Often in UFC fights the commentators mention the class of fighters post fight. When the match is over they tend show each other respect. For a sport that is so brutal at times, this is always good to see, in terms of sportsmanship. This post-fight show of respect also highlights another concept, namely control of physiological arousal, as often a fighter can switch from a highly aroused state to a much calmer state, just like that. From a Sport Psychology perspective physiological arousal can, hypothetically, be thought of as on a continuum ranging from comatose to raging, or something along those lines anyway. Meditation or chess would be firmly placed toward the comatose end, while sprinting would be toward the raging end. It’s interesting to speculate what the optimal arousal for fighting or MMA would be.

In Japanese arts they talk about mushin, that state of no mindedness in combat when the mind is unconcerned with thoughts or emotions and so open to everything. In Wikipedia mushin is described thus

“There is an absence of discursive thought and judgment, so the person is totally free to act and react towards an opponent without hesitation. At this point, a person relies not on what they think should be the next move, but what is felt intuitively. It is not a state of relaxed, near-sleepfulness, however. The mind could be said to be working at a very high speed, but with no intentions, plans or direction.”

Clearly, this would be desirable to a fighter, mind absent of thoughts of failure, fear etc and free to tactically respond to the opponent while being sufficiently aroused to strike effectively. Often in Japanese arts they also strive for mushin during kata performance, again from Wiki

“Many martial artists, particularly those practising Japanese martial arts such as aikido or aikijutsu, train to achieve this state of mind during Kata so that a flawless execution of moves is accomplished — that they may be achieved during combat or at any other time”

All very good in theory, but there is potential for trouble when the mushin is achieved in kata but not applied to fighting. The mindset required for kata performance is fundamentally different to that required in a fight or MMA match. During kata performance an open mind while the striving for perfection allows the practitioner to concentrate on the execution of technique, or, preferably, the underlying principles (see Kinaesthesis and Proprioception 2). During a fight or MMA match a person’s physiological arousal has to be further toward the raging end than if he were practising kata. That’s pretty obvious, but the point is that the state of mushin derived from kata practice is not synonymous with a state of mind required for fighting. It may very well be better than a fearful, anxiety ridden state but it is not optimal. Although, while a highly aroused state is desirable, it is possible to be overly aroused. The following clip shows examples of highly aroused MMA fighters, many of whom show none of the class I refer to at the start of this post but definitely plenty of arousal.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZQQnFejH_I&hl=en&fs=1]

A couple of things spring to mind, firstly a kata mushin would be of limited value if faced with any of the fighters in the clip, most of whom seem to be close to the raging extreme of the arousal continuum. Secondly, these fighters seem over-aroused, they are so close to raging that they are unable to stop once the fight is clearly over. This may very well seem like an appropriate mindset for fighting or MMA, although successful in the examples in the clip, there is a danger of a fighter gassing if the opponent survives the storm. Alternatively, the raging fighter might end up losing quickly as in the following clip.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7BWp9ARB7I&hl=en&fs=1]

To me it’s obvious that Thompson was overly aroused, while Fedor’s brother Alex had a more appropriate mindset. The Emelianenko brothers and Cro Cop amongst others have a calm exterior which belies vicious explosive action when required. These highlights of Fedor and Cro Cop clearly illustrate this. Sure they are highly aroused, you can’t strike like those fighters without being so, but, importantly, they are not overly aroused. This state of highly aroused yet calm seems to me to be very close to that described in the first Wiki quote, which while being toward the raging end of the continuum its not too close.

To reiterate, the ideal state would be highly aroused but not too close to raging, free from thought and emotion allowing intuitive action; feeling not thinking. Mushin, if you like, but fight mushin NOT kata mushin! I’m not suggesting that a mushin man would always beat a raging bull in a China shop (to quote the commentator in the last clip), that would be absurd. Rather, I’m suggesting that raging is not optimal, a calmer yet highly aroused state, possibly synonymous with mushin, would be more appropriate both during the fight, so strikes can be delivered with optimal power, but also afterwards, so an opponent can be shown respect, unlike some of the fighters in the first clip.

Originally posted 2009-04-10 08:39:46. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Power Punching Tips from a Tai Chi Master

The following video was posted on Facebook a little while ago which shows results from lab tests on a Tai Chi master using some highly sophisticated equipment (thanks Steve). This post covers the first insight from the clip which illustrates how ground reaction force contributes to powering a punch.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN88QIsMHqA[/youtube]

Assuming the tai chi master is able to transfer the force produced into the target, I’m sure he can, potentially there is 2200 Newtons heading into the bad guy, which as the clip says is equal to about 3x his body weight – 220kg. That’s pretty good and is some target to aim for! With practice similar levels of force should be possible to all of us.

While I am a huge advocate of ‘punching with your feet’ and having been doing so for some time this video encouraged me to reconsider the role of ground reaction force in punching. It occurred to me that maximizing the force production at the feet was more important than merely producing force there. It reminded me of something a friend who does soft Chinese Martial Arts showed me. Whether it is from Xing Yi or Bag Hua, I’m not sure which, it involved stamping the front foot and punching with the stamp, if that makes sense…..

Power Punching Tips – Ground reaction force and stamping

The punch follows a sequential action starting with the stamp, followed by a rotation and ending with a straight punch. This is similar to the sequential whipping punching action but with greater emphasis on the involvement of the foot, however, the stamp can power any type of punch there doesn’t need to be a sequential action per se.

Focusing on stamping with the foot can increase punching power, certainly this video suggests it while subsequent testing confirms it. When trying it on the pads some people get the timing wrong and struggle a little with alignment until they get used to it. Another mistake is to merely turn the foot toward the target without stamping which misses out a significant portion of power, the result is a weaker punch.

When moving in relation to the target and using tiny steps to align to it correctly GRF plays its part again. By connecting the feet to the hands (or elbows, head etc) each tiny adjustment step can precipitate and provide force for a punch. It’s a little like sprinting on the spot, which is how I start off teaching kids to use their feet in their punches, and most adults too…..

The greater force at the foot the greater the increase in punching power at the target. There are limits of course but if the Tai chi master can muster 220kg of force what can you manage?

Originally posted 2011-02-17 12:18:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter