So, I talk a lot about the value of learning principles rather than just techniques. If you have an instructor the explains the principles to you then you’re in good shape, but what if the instructor doesn’t explain the principles? What do you do then?
If you want to extract the principles out of a technique, then you need to first deconstruct the technique into its components and then try to generalize each component as much as possible. Now, there is not one, unique way to deconstruct a technique and different principles might be learned from different deconstructions. In any case, you’re sure to learn something.
Let’s look at an example of something basic: a rear hand straight punch. Here’s a good example I pulled from gifsoup.com.
We can break this down from the ground up. First, I see a balanced stance with the back heel slightly up. He takes a lunging step forward and to the left of the target. He rotates his hips and shoulders, which seems to give the punch more power. He keeps his shoulders up, protecting his jaw, and his punch makes contact with the target before his lead leg touches the ground. Also, he pulls his punching arm straight back the way it left.
So, let’s see how we can generalize these components into principles that apply to much more. From the stance, I can see that he has both balance and the ability to move forward quickly. In fact, this stance looks like it can move in just about any direction quickly. That sounds like a good thing. So, we can get the principle of having a good, balanced stance. In fact, his stance demonstrates an even more general principle of mobility. Fighting on your feet, mobility comes down to stance and footwork, but on the ground your feet aren’t going to help you so much. The doesn’t mean that mobility isn’t important on the ground. So, I’m going to say that the footwork in this technique is demonstrating the principle of mobility.
One of the goals of a straight punch is to do massive damage. As seen in the picture, much of the power from this technique is coming from the rotation of his hips/torso/shoulders. Is that rotation unique to this punch? Well, if he opened his hand up into a palm strike, that wouldn’t really affect the need to rotate for power. An upward/thrusting elbow strike from the rear arm would likely also need the same rotation. Is rotating this way a striking thing only or does it also apply to other things like grappling? Well, if his hand had started on the target before the rotation, then the rotation would have ended up causing him to shove the target away. That sounds useful. So, I’m going to say that the rotation in this technique is demonstrating the principle of rotation to generate linear force.
In a fist fight, for the most part if you can reach the other guy, then he can reach you too. That means that you might have to deal with an incoming punch while you are punching. Keeping the shoulders up facilitates this defensive goal. I imagine that not wanting to get hit while in the middle of a strike applies to any strike, not just this one. In fact, anytime in a fight that you can hurt the other guy (striking, grappling, etc.) then you’re probably at risk for being on the receiving end as well. So, let’s generalize even further and say that your structure and positioning during an offensive technique should mitigate against the risk of a simultaneous incoming attack.
Watching the animation above, I see that he gets a pretty good result on contact. This is because of the timing of when his fist hits verses when his lead foot hits the ground. That results in all of the momentum and force being transferred through his fist. None of the forward motion is sent into the ground. This certainly applies to other linear punches…probably jumping kicks too (land the kick before the support foot hits the ground). Come to think of it, any time you make a movement that is meant to affect the other person, it would be better if none of your effort was wasted by having it dissipate into the ground (or really anything other than the opponent). So, make sure to use your motion efficiently.
There you have it. Four extremely general principles extracted from a single technique. These principles not only applied to other techniques that are “near” the original like a jab or a front kick, but they also applied to grappling and ground fighting. If you think about it, they apply to some weapons fighting as well. So that’s one of the scientific processes you can apply to learning martial arts. Use this to extract lots of value out of your training!
|Bonus points for anybody who understands
why this picture totally belongs here