Monday, May 23, 2011

Using the Body, when Striking

  When observing student's practicing their striking, we often tell them that they need to utilize their body-weight (with the strike). This is often misinterpreted as swinging their body and/or limbs (in a circular manner). Taika has repeatedly corrected us on this subject.
  Prior to instruction, student's will commonly twist their body/hips when attempting to include their body-weight into a strike. By doing so (twisting), they are (in fact) causing a substantial portion of that momentum to be diverted away from the strike.

  What should be understood, is that any body motion that moves in a/any direction other than the intended strike, takes momentum/energy away from that strike. Performing a strike in this manner, is (often) in direct opposition to the manner which many systems teach (on how to execute a strike).    
  Learning how to practice not including these extraneous motions, begins when the student practices their punching in cadence/formation. Standing (commonly) in a horse stance, the student will alternate (Right/Left) performing a punch. While doing so, their attention is usually on confirming the hand/arm positions and/or extension in conjunction with breathing with the requisite hand position and milking action (for the striking manner being practiced).   

  In RyuTe, further emphasis is included on not including any shoulder or hip motion. The only limb that (should) make any motion, is the striking arm. When alternating striking arms, the returning arm (only) lowers/returns to a position in front of the tori's hip. The strike should not “wind-up” (to the tori's side), but only motion upward and forward (from the position in front of the tori's hip).
  While performing these motions, the student should note (and correct) any other/additional body or arm motions being done. It's during this manner of practice, that the student should be eliminating any of those extra (and unnecessary) motions.   
  Those extra motions, though feeling as if (they are helping) more power is being included, are in fact taking power away from the strike. By rotating, the energy (of the strike) is being bled outward (instead of forward, with the strike). Though some would argue, that the amount of energy (bled off) is small, the cumulative amounts of energy/momentum (from the rotation of the hips, shoulder, torso, even the arm itself) are enough to view it as being detrimental to the strikes effectiveness.   
  I've had individual's attempt to present speed/momentum theory's as an argument for use of these rotations (the same is often presented for the PR-24). Just as with the PR-24, the circular motion/speed can (in theory) provide a difference in power potential. The part (of the formula) that they ignore/leave out, is that the transfer of that power, is not made into the target, it is reflected back (into the delivery source), in this case the PR-24, or the striking arm. By doing so, the user feels the strike, making them believe the strike is more powerful. 

  Additionally, student's are often told to imagine punching through a target. This is misleading (if not wrong). If your striking a person, your not going to punch through them (despite any movies you may of seen). We inform student's to visualize punching into the target (only as far as their natural extension allows). If one imagines punching through a target, that strike will become a push. 

  The addition of any rotation, will (further) reinforce this pushing action. A strike, only has a limited range of (full) effectiveness. Formation, and free-air practice (of performing strikes) reinforces the awareness of that range (for the individual).
  Beyond the cadence/formation practice of performing strikes, RyuTe utilizes (what we call) a shuffle-punch. We have student's begin in (either) a natural or step-stance, and shuffle one foot forward towards a target (or in free-air) and strike (using alternate hands/arms). As the strike is executed, the rear leg is drawn forward in conjunction with the striking arm (regardless of which arm is utilized with the strike). As in formation, there is no rotation of any (other) part of the body. Attention is made to not rotate/extend the shoulder of the striking arm, or hips. The student's emphasis is on motioning the whole body (forward) as one action. 
  Tactically, there are numerous advantages to practicing to strike in this manner. By not rotating, the student doesn't place themselves off-balance (thereby creating the opportunity for counter's by the uke), and will maintain a stable positioning for follow-up techniques. They also will be delivering their full potential of momentum/energy into their strikes/techniques. One will also become more familiar with knowing (if not feeling) their (personal) range (of technique effectiveness).  

  Though I often stress feeling techniques, I'm (usually) referring to a particular motion and/or reaction. If/when your feeling the energy of your own strikes, it may be in your best interest to figure out why. Energy, should be transferred into your target (uke), not reflected back (into yourself).

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