For all external martial arts, true power is gained by four principles:
- core focus/strength
- technique/follow through
Flexibility -- If I throw a straight punch, I need to follow through my target for maximum impact. Tightness in my anterior deltoid ( front shoulder) or countless other places in the shoulder cavity can cause the arm not to fully extend -- thus causing the arm to fall short of its mark.
Core focus and core strength -- Here is the true reason for writing this particular blog. Last weekend, I was talking with my daughter's boyfriend about a person he saw on television who was breaking stones with his shoulder. The only time the breaks were successful, he said, was when the person doing the breaking yelled on impact. When the breaker didn't yell, he said, the stones did not break.
Let us look at this from an anatomical viewpoint: the breaker ran into the blocks with his shoulder. Power was generated from the floor as the breaker shifted his weight forward onto the balls of his feet. Next, the breaker yelled, thus tightening his core -- and the break was successful.
By tightening his core, the breaker did not leave space in his body to absorb any recoil. All power was generated outward. If his core was not braced for impact, there would have been recoil through the body.
It is similar to holding two poles, one solid and the other with a spring in the middle. If I were to take both poles and bang them on the wall with the same force, the solid one would do more damage because it would stay stiff while the pole with the spring will give in the middle and create some recoil.
That brings us to the concept of speed.
Speed -- Good muscle memory (lots of repetition) allows for speed of movement. As we learn a new movement and develop the ability to do it smoothly without thought, we gain speed in the movement.
Speed as it pertains to power is simple. Einstein's theory (E=MC2) tells us that power is equal to velocity x mass squared. So assuming my punches do not change in mass then to increase power I need to move faster.
Lastly, we need to look at technique.
Technique -- This really incorporates a few different things, but for our purposes on power we look at proper follow through (which I mentioned briefly earlier in this entry).
With the same straight punch I spoke of before, as my hand reaches full extension on impact of my target, all power is diffused just as my hand hits its intended target.
The best example of this is a batter in baseball. If a batter swings to early on the ball, the bat is fully extended on impact. The outcome is the ball gets hit as the bat is almost perpendicular to the batter. The bat has already begun to slow at this point and power is lost. In order to get proper follow-through, check your distance and be sure you punch or kick through your target.
So, if you feel you are not getting enough power in your fighting ask yourself these questions:
- Are my kicks and punches losing form before the end of the technique? If so, work on your flexibility.
- Is your target moving on impact or are you falling backwards when you kick? If this happens, chances are your core is not stable. Work on core strength or make sure your body is moving in total unison.
- Is balance decent and technique extension good? If so, practice speed drills for a little extra momentum.
- Lastly, what if everything feels good but there is just no power? You definitely are not following through on your techniques. Practice by standing slightly closer to your target. You will feel the difference.