Friday, February 24, 2012
Footwork and Efficient Delivery of Momentum
For a strike to be delivered to it's intended target with it's maximum potential, it must be delivered as efficiently as possible. Though numerous components could be accredited with achieving this goal, the most obvious would be the motions made by the arm. Those motions are commonly practiced, and easily understood.
In RyuTe, we teach student's that the hand should remain relaxed (either hanging at one's side, or set to the front of the body, just below the ribs). While the hand raises and motions towards the intended target, it will remain loosely closed.
As it extends towards the target, the back of the hand will tense and the focus is centered upon the knuckles contacting the target. The Fingers remain relaxed throughout the impact.
With only limited practice, one can learn to extend the striking arm with minimal wasted motion (that doesn't distract from the intended direction/target). The majority of a student's practice should be spent on combining that motion with the remainder of their body's motions.
Although it doesn't always, efficiency can be correlated to expediency. Having efficiency with our body motion allows us to concentrate on the arm motion, knowing that the full potential of our body mass will be utilized.
Momentum is the motion of a body (or system), equal to the product of the mass of a body and its velocity. More simply, momentum is the continuing result of your bodies weight (mass) combined with the speed (velocity) that it is being propelled at.
It's very common for student's to interrupt their limbs momentum by pausing during the motions application (practice). We constantly remind our student's that they will perform, as they practice. If/when a student consistently pause during a practiced motion, they will most commonly do so when implementing it during an actual defensive situation.
Student's will usually (first) attempt to increase the speed of their practice in order to do this. More commonly though, the result is only a sloppier execution of the techniques.
As long as the desired motions are done fluidly and without pause during their execution, as well as being done with speed, then there will be a minimum loss of momentum. Part of that attempt is accomplished through performing correct body motion. Correct motion (in this case) means efficient motion.
Basic motion starts with the tori turning the opposite foot (#1) slightly (to the outside of the intended direction) approx. 30º (outward), along with lifting that heel (about the distance of a thickness of a piece of paper). The striking sides foot (#2), should slide in (towards the opposite foot) and arcs, passing beside and beyond the other foot.
As that foot passes by the rear foot, that rear foot will pivot (on the ball of that foot) inward to approx. a 30º (inward) angle. As the forward foot reaches it's desired position (#3, pivoting inward 30º as the rear foot did), the rearward foot will additionally slide forward a few inches. This should happen in conjunction with the strike landing upon it's target.
Depending upon the individual circumstances, the stance could be performed in a more shallow manor with the rear foot's shuffling motion traveling a greater distance (to come to rest directly behind the forward foot, a.k.a. The RyuTe shuffle punch). The essence of these (types of) strikes, is performing only forward motion (by any part of the body) while executing them.
Though often done in conjunction with a forward (hand) punch, it can also be done with a reverse punch (as is done in Seisan kata). Seisan kata is actually a perfect example of forward (only) motion with a punch. In this case the forward hand performs a forward motion while the reverse arm is punching. This is done 3 times at the beginning of the kata's performance.
Though each can illustrate an individual technique, the three can also represent a (single) technique's execution. This was described by Tashi Logue once. The three strikes and steps, were explained as not (in every bunkai) representing forward motions, but three motions being performed consecutively (essentially, in place).
Footwork does not only include motioning the performer forward or back. I could example numerous technique applications where the tori never moves from the initial location, yet performs several stance changes.
Footwork is about directional motion, that motion is made in the direction that best aids the application of a technique. Usually, that motion is being done to apply body weight to an application (be it the body weight of the tori, or that of the uke). Sometimes it's to weaken the aggressor's position.
Regardless of which, or how it's being done, it's a relevant part of any/every technique application.