Regardless of how big or small you are it is possible through martial arts to generate bigger forces and power than you thought you were capable of.
Everybody who has practised martial arts for any period of time will have a sense of this, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded every so often and to reapply greater understanding to how we practise and develop our technique.
During a recent seminar with guest sensei Philip Rhodes (6th Dan, Bushido HQ) to celebrate 12 months of Knutsford Bushido Ju Jitsu we were all given a reminder and an introduction into the physical principles of maximising strength and power.
Technique really matters. The angle of your arm when doing a block, the position of your hip and shoulder, your stance, the position of the non-blocking arm, these are all critical. Isolated, the arm is relatively weak to the potential momentum and force of an attacker, but can be greatly strengthened by adopting stances and postures that engage the back muscles and core strength to maximise your opposition to an attack.
Sensei Rhodes illustrated this with some simple but very informative experiments that illustrated very clearly how some ‘tweaks’ to our technique can transform the power and strength we can generate. The same principles hold true when dealing with a forceful attacker. Tweaking an opponent’s body (e.g. the angle of their arms when they are pushing forcefully) can completely nullify their power and allow you to have greater control of the situation. When we are throwing kicks and punches our technique should be harnessing all our power and momentum towards the point of impact. Again, a punch carrying solely the power of the arm will be relatively weak compared to a punch where the whole body and forward momentum are being utilised.
From my point of view, kata is the tool we can use to really develop this technique. Through constant practise and analysis, we can work to perfect our basic technique through our katas. When asked ‘What advice would you give to people wanting to get the most out of martial arts?’ sensei Rhodes answered ‘Focus on technique’.
As sensei Rhodes reminded us, translated Ju Jitsu is the ‘gentle science’, and though we do not need to have an expert understanding in the laws of physics to be effective martial artists, we do need to understand that there is a science behind what we do and teach and that working to perfect techniques will allow us to generate more power, speed, force, and ultimately may help us defend ourselves more effectively if that time comes.