I’ve always been a stickler for detail in many areas of my life. But that attention to detail has helped to understand martial arts much better and to be able to analyse the movements and applications in a lot more depth.
This is why I do these videos from time to time to try to help others. In the video below, I look at using the chest and lateral muscles to help generate more punching power. Most traditional Eastern martial arts keep the shoulders down, relaxed and engage the lats, whilst Western fighting systems like boxing and kick-boxing tend to raise the shoulder and turn it into the punch. In the West, broad shoulders and a narrow waist is seen as a powerful build. So if big shoulders are powerful, it would seem sensible to use them and turn them into the technique.
Yet in the East, big hips are more often seen as a powerful build and this is reflected in their fighting systems focusing on moving the hips/waist to generate power.
When we’re scared or stressed we tend to hunch (raise our shoulders). This is why prolonged stress often causes tension & stiffness in the shoulders. When somebody confronts and threatens us, it’s a normal to feel scared and stressed (hence hunching). Also, if something comes towards you head fast and unexpectedly, it’s a flinch reaction to raise our arms, including the shoulder too. We instinctively feel safer that our head is more protected by hunching the shoulders upwards.
All these factors make it very counter-intuitive (especially to Westerners); to relax the shoulders and keep them down. It also feels more vulnerable at first too. So I’ve put together the video below to explain why we keep the shoulders down and what the benefits are for us. Many of you will already be doing this as it is part of good technique anyway; but if you teach, it may help you to explain to your students why we do it this way rather than just do it because I said so. That in turn will hopefully help them to achieve the results faster than just telling them. If you find this video useful, please share and comment below.