Monday, January 5, 2015

Wasted Energy

While studying the martial arts, one of the lessons I have learned and continue to work on improving revolves around the efficient use of energy. This lesson and my ultimate need to continue my work on this concept was impressed upon me many times over the years. Most recently working with Kris Wilder (a couple of years ago) and with a Wing Chun Sifu in Shanghai last year.

Not that I am necessarily performing poorly, only that I still have some fine tuning to do. Fine tuning my art is, after all, a lifelong pursuit. Anyway, this lesson has a lot involved in it so I want to sum it up and let you investigate on your own.

If you execute a punch. Any punch: front hand, back hand, straight, circular, etc... any motion that does not contribute to the energy delivered by the punch at the moment of contact with the target could be wasted. Or at least wasted in terms of not being applied to that punch.

Understand that there are techniques and tactics specifically designed to move in a manner that does not contribute directly to the force of a punch. If this is a conscious decision on the part of the artist that is fine. It may still deserve some investigation but at least it is not an unaccounted movement.

I know many practitioners of the arts that when they execute a punch will move their legs one direction or another where the resulting energy is not in line with the attack. Some do not even realize it is an issue. This is not criticism in the sense that I am placing myself above them. I find myself doing it too from time to time.

Note: Things get more complicated when we account for energy delivery in terms of linear (structural) versus rotational (torque) based. But that is information for another post..

Anyway, here is the test strikers. Execute a punch or a kick. Have someone help you or film yourself performing the techniques you have chosen. Watch to see if you body moves at a different angle to the attack. If so, you have some of your potential energy becoming kinetic in a way that might not be contributing to the total power you can generate.

Do your technique again. This time watch your hip level. Does it rise or fall when you execute? If so, again that is energy going up or down and not necessarily into the technique.

Without going into it too much. There are times where this "wasted" energy is not wrong. All I am asking is that you be aware of movement that is not helping you. If it does not add to the result you desire in your exchange then research needs to be done to determine its value. Might be something you need to train-out. Might also be a technique of which you were not yet aware.

I will try to include pictures in the future. When I am not in Korea and have more people around to help me demonstrate and take pictures. Train diligently!

Nick