- Striking and the transfer of energy -
It would be my contention that most people, if asked where exactly the power in a strikers punch comes from, that many would reply with answers such as the arms, shoulders, hips or core. However, all of which are wrong to a degree, because these tenets of a strike are all secondary to the source of energy from which force can be generated: the ground. It is in fact the surface beneath a strikers feet from which much of the significant striking energy is generated up into the tips of their fist, with the mediator being technique. This knowledge alone of course does not produce an effective strike, however, this conception within the mind of a fighter alters how they see the process, for making a strike is simply the transfer of energy from one point to another.
How exactly that energy is transferred from the ground into the target is of course a matter of technique, but many traditional Martial Arts will teach the importance of the Stance in striking, particularly the rear leg. Before making an effective strike from a stationary or moving position, in many cases it is crucial that one's rear leg be straightened and not buckled at the knee, because, as the energy is generated from the ground into your target, that energy on impact will want to go back into the ground. However, by straightening the rear leg in your stance, much of this process will be eliminated as your body remains strong and upright upon impact. There are also many subtle nuances that can be developed regarding the Stance and the Strike, for instance, a short and strong push off of the rear foot before delivering a strike (whilst maintaining a straightened leg) can generate greater forward motion into your target. This technique can be developed through functional training of strength in the toes, ankles and lower leg, such as bouncing on the toes, jumping squats and other forms of exercise.
To use the example of the right hand straight punch (Gyaku tsuki) from a standard stance, it is also important to keep one's right side hip and shoulder locked back in a strong position, almost as a bowman draws his bow, as this creates a stance from which a tremendous transfer of weight can be shifted through your body. On making the strike, the sharp twisting of the hips and release of the shoulder will result in a launch of the striking hand out towards the target, not only creating speed and power, but also covering more distance via extending the shoulder and twisting the hips. This is why traditional Martial Artists are often able to fight from a distance and cover distance rapidly in making strikes.
Furthermore, to increase the power in a strike, it should be delivered in a whipping motion, and not in brute muscular strength. Many have a tendency to use the muscle strength in their upper body to create force, however, it is greatly more effective to relax these muscles when the strike is in motion, tensing only at the last minute in order to generate a whipping effect (sometimes refereed to as elastic recoil). Other ways in which this can be done is through a sharp twist of the wrist at the very last second from knuckles facing down to knuckles up (body punch) or to the side (face punch), as this will truly drive the strike into the target, also helping to generate that whipping effect on impact. On making this strike, as one's fist is thrown forward toward the target, a very slight and nuanced control of one's own body weight is too, greatly effective, as it is possible, through a short ****** of the upper body (whilst not lunging) to throw your weight through your arm, whilst remaining upright. This technique is so subtle that it is difficult to explain without demonstration, however, what is done is that as your leading foot lands before making the strike, one's body weight should follow that forward momentum for just a split second before releasing the strike which will create a kind of kinetic chain. This technique can be very effective if developed with control of your own centre of gravity.
Another greatly important tenet of making a strike that is often overlooked in many traditional forms of Martial Arts is protecting yourself whilst striking. It is important as you are most vulnerable when on offence (which is why timing is vital). Because of this I have tried to develop techniques that eliminate risk when striking, though, of course there are multiple methods that can be taken to minimise risk offensively, I will focus on what can be done regarding positioning. For instance, when throwing a right hand punch as your primary strike, to negate your opponents counter strikes, rather than advancing straight forward, it is possible to advance at an angle, i.e. stepping off with your leading foot to the left. This technique is more effective against straight punchers, however, can be effective in general as many are familiar with opponents advancing linearly toward them, thus the step off can be offsetting and will likely result in their punches travelling past you instead of into you, similar to how a boxer slips punches. What can also be added to this technique is that as you step off, rather than simply stepping with your foot closer to the ground, is to step with a swinging motion, lifting your foot clear of the ground. This will negate any possible sweeps to your leading foot that an opponent might make and will check any leg kicks. When defending yourself to counter attacks, your free hand can also be an effective tool to guard yourself. For example, it can be used to protect the left hand side of your head in a fist whilst the shoulder of your striking arm can be extended to protect your jaw. Alternatively, your free hand can be used to protect the right hand side of your head by crossing it across your body and having your palm outwards.
Finally I should add that a strike is most effectively made when your opponent doesn't see it coming.
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