Monday, May 27, 2013

Teach the Essence of All Martial Arts Techniques

What is the essence of all martial arts techniques? What makes them work?

Forces account for the changes in motion and shape of all things in the environment, including the body and body segments (collectively body).

Any time a body starts, stops, speeds up slows down or changes direction, a force has been applied. A change in shape refers to deformation. Deformation of body tissues can cause pain and injury. Think about all the techniques taught in any martial art and you will see that they are designed to change the motion of an opponent or deform their tissues to inflict pain or injury.

The beauty of it all is that force is a biomechanical concept that is easy for the layperson to understand and apply.

Without providing the full explanation, the following is how you teach and learn by referring to forces, the essence of all techniques:

1. Identify the points of application of the forces - all contact points between the two bodies.
2. Forces are a push or a pull. Determine if it is a push or a pull at each point of contact.
3. Determine the direction of the force.
4. Determine the relative magnitude of the force.
5. Determine the objective of the combined forces (change the motion or shape (deformation) of the opponent's body).

First teach students about forces, then consistently teach using a force based approach. Students will be taught to, and will, focus on the essence of techniques; what actually makes them work. When they come to correct errors in their performance they will go directly to the essence of the technique.

While the above might appear to have limited potential to improve on teaching striking and kicking techniques, it does not when the third law of motion is also understood. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Action refers to forces. When we hit a body, that body 'hits' us back with a force that is equal in magnitude and opposite in direction.

When we hit or kick an opponent or some training devise, or block an opponent's attack, we must deal with reaction forces. What is being done in terms of posture and stance to increase our stability and ability to absorb those reaction forces?

Those martial arts that describe their stances in terms of mobility (which means less resistance to forces), what are they doing to increase stability when contact is made and forces are experienced?

Everybody understands what a push or a pull is. If a student is told to push or pull in a certain direction they will do so. If that instruction is not an accurate or complete description of the forces involved in the execution of a technique, do not be surprised if the student experiences difficulty in performing the techniques. A force-based approach 'forces' us to consider each and every point of contact where a force may be applied. All of those forces contribute to, or at times hinder, the execution of a technique. A complete analysis of the forces involved in the  technique avoids these issues and demonstrates a thorough understanding of the technique. And a complete analysis of the forces involved in a technique is so simple.


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