Monday, January 11, 2016

A Punch is Just a Punch

One of the most basic striking techniques in any martial arts system is a punch.  Humans have been punching each other to settle their differences for centuries.  However, even though the punch enjoys such historical longevity, that doesn't mean that we inherently know how to properly execute the technique.

Many times, untrained fighters will injure themselves when attempting to attack with a simple punch.  Broken knuckles, sprained or fractured wrist bones, and jammed elbows are some of the more common injuries to be had from incorrectly punching another person or even a punching bag.  Even trained fighters can injure themselves throwing a punch.

Professional boxers and mixed martial artists wear gloves and wrist wraps to help minimize the damage done to themselves through continual punching during a bout.  How can a beginner or intermediate level martial artist hope to get through their training without rendering their own hands useless?  The answer is proper technique.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Simplifying Complex Commonalities

An Essay of Analysis and Understanding

Sensei recently assigned an exercise to write a paper connecting an abstract thought to physical technique.  We were given a list of excerpts to choose from which would be the basis for our paper.  I selected the following excerpt.
If a system is created, affected, or destroyed by an exchange of polar opposites, then we must examine like effects in similar systems.  If in standard striking arts it is accepted that a curved attack is best countered by a straight defense and vice-versa, then we must examine the representative concept in non-striking arts.  If there are exceptions to this concept, we must likewise search them out in like systems.  If we can break systems down to the physical, mental, and philosophical concepts, then many systems become the same.  That which increases our focus in a punch also increases our focus in a throw, a kick, a cut, or communication.  The action, while we can see and feel and measure it, is less important to the properly trained mind than the law that governs it.  When systems become the same, a difference that makes no difference is no difference.
The paragraph instantly reminded me of a famous quote made by Bruce Lee when talking of Jeet Kune Do and how it was born of simplicity.
Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I've understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. The height of cultivation is really nothing special. It is merely simplicity; the ability to express the utmost with the minimum.
I believe that I could write a book on how this idea correlates many facets of life (sports, musical instruments, computer science, wood working, relationship building, etc.) but that's not the assignment.  The assignment is to describe how this idea pertains to physical, martial techniques.  Therefore, in the next few paragraphs, I shall do just that.