How To Generate More Punching Power Using The Chest & Lats

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 is 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.

 

The Secret To Hangetsu (Seisan) & Nijushiho (Niseishi)

In all styles, we learn our basics and from that most of us get to understand the theory of generating power in our own martial art.  Quite often we later learn katas/forms/patterns where we sometimes have to move in a completely different way to how our basics (and hence method of generating power) were explained to us.

Hangetsu kata (also known as Seisan) and Nijushiho kata (also known as Niseishi or E Sip Sa Bo) are such katas where there are a lot of movements that are completely different from our usual basics.  Or at least that is the case in Shotokan Karate – my primary style; though I suspect most styles will be able to find similar examples.

The usual idea in most Karate & Korean styles of moving the body mass rapidly forward, generating powerful forward momentum does not apply to large sections of these katas.  Instead, the legs and torso sometimes have very little visible movement at all whilst the arms do move very rapidly. This clearly contradicts the conventional wisdom of forward momentum of the body mass creating inertia.

It also contradicts the conventional wisdom of many Chinese Kung Fu styles which uses much larger rotational movements of the torso to generate centrifugal force.  In particular some of the double punches in Nijushiho has no hip/waist rotation at all and no forward momentum.  So how is power generated? Continue reading “The Secret To Hangetsu (Seisan) & Nijushiho (Niseishi)” »

Generating Power From The Hara (Japanese) / Dan Tian (Chinese)

Many of the old Okinawan/Chinese masters talk about moving from the Hara (as it’s known in Japanese) or the Dan Tian (as it’s known in Chinese).  It’s just behind and slightly below the belly-button.  Yet in many martial arts, especially Japanese and Korean styles, we are taught to focus on moving from the hips.  Although the Hara is very close to hips, it is not quite in the same place and when we train to focus on moving the hips, we are not moving from the Hara as the old masters described!

How could this anomaly come about?

Well I’ve been saying for years that many martial arts have been dumbed down.  It’s very easy for a master who wants to teach the public, yet not give away hard earned secrets; to make a small adjustment to the way they teach so that it looks the same but is not.  The students see how fast and powerful the master is and hang on his every word, accepting without question.  Why would you question somebody who is obviously so good!  The student get good results.  Not as good as the masters (even after many years of training), but it’s easy to dismiss that as the master is . . . . well . . . . the master!  Then you get a new generation of masters who have only been taught the dumbed down version; and so it goes on. Continue reading “Generating Power From The Hara (Japanese) / Dan Tian (Chinese)” »

3 Forearm, Wrist & Knuckle Alignments To Improve Punches & Strikes

Below is a 3 part video looking at alignments of the bones in the forearm, wrist and knuckles that are seldom (if ever) explained in martial arts.  Occasionally some techniques do not use the best alignments simply due to style dogma . . . . . . . “we do it this way in our style” . . . . . without critically thinking it through.  Yet big differences in the effectiveness of your punches and strikes can be made with very small adjustments.  If we take the attitude that we are a martial artist first, and whatever style(s) we practice second; then we can keep an open mind to learn from anybody and everybody.  When we identify ourselves by style first and foremost we risk shutting ourselves of from learning better ways. Continue reading “3 Forearm, Wrist & Knuckle Alignments To Improve Punches & Strikes” »

How To Improve Lower Back And Knee Function When In Pain

I recently received a email question from a gentleman who practices Shotokan Karate and is challenged with lower back and knee pain.
He has already adapted his stance accordingly and no longer pushes his lower abdomen/pelvis forward as he was originally taught to do.

His question to me was, did I have any further advice on improving knee and lower back function?

I’ve given a full answer in the video below, so I’m not going to repeat it again here.

If you have a particular challenge to your own martial arts training, feel free to drop me a line and ask me!

Ideas For Training At Home (Part 6 – Breathing: Isolating The Diaphragm)

Diaphragmatic breathing is something I’ve covered in detail before, but it seemed a good time to revisit it with a lot of people self isolating and training from home at the moment. Correct breathing is very central to keeping you relaxed (hence fast) and generating high levels of impact. Some of this video may go against conventional wisdom, but give it a try and you’ll see it really works.

Ideas For Training At Home (Part 5 – Turning The Hip/Waist More Efficiently)

In most styles of martial art, many techniques involve turning the hips/waist one way or the other in order to transfer the body weight into the striking limb. This in turn adds power and speed to the technique being performed.

In this video we look at enhancing that hip/waste turn by maximising the way we use the legs.

Ideas For Training At Home (Part 4 – Learning To Engage Your Fascial System)

Part 4 of ideas for training from home. This looks at a simple modification to your technique for more efficiently engaging the fascial system in the arms to make them faster and more powerful. After you’ve seen this, you’ll realise what’s been there all along in plain sight; yet most people never realised!

Please leave your comments and feedback below.

Ideas For Training At Home (Part 2 – Improve Kicking)

Part 2 of ideas for training at home, to help people who are self isolating or in an area that is currently locked-down. This one looks at how you can use furniture to help improve your kicking technique, by forcing you to raise your knee and retract it properly as you kick.

Please leave your comments below and let me know if you found it useful.

Relaxed Power: Release From Wrist Grab

Sometimes it’s a paradox that less is more.  With this release from a wrist grab, it definitely works better the more relaxed you do it.  The less strength and force you use, the better it works.  This actually gives some advantages to women as men tend to rely of strength more than ladies do.

One thing that I didn’t quite explain in the video, is that when you have skin on skin contact (such as with a grab), any changes (such as one person tensing up) can be felt practically instantaneously by the other person.  This is because the information is transmitted directly via the nervous system.  It is quicker than seeing something happen, as there is a very small delay between the eye detecting a movement and that information being relayed to and recognised by the brain.  This is why so many Chinese martial arts do “sticky hand” exercises as it trains and develops this sensitivity.  Also, you can tense without actually moving, so the eyes might not notice, but the nervous system will straight away.

Anyway, I think the video will be self explanatory without me explaining it all here.  If you find it useful please like, share and leave a comment below.  Thank you.