Training Warriors for the 21st Century

Training Warriors for the 21st Century
Joong Do Kwan Traditional Taekwondo cross training with Kidokwan Perth

29 Feb 2012

The Striking Post

The makiwara is a traditional martial arts striking post which allows you to practice your techniques with good focus, posture and breathing. Beginners to the martial arts might look at an expert practitioner and marvel at calloused knuckles and gape at their powerful strikes. And then some might associate the pain of training with the ultimate prize of attaining the secrets of this lethal 'killing blow'. Do people think that the idea is to disfigure your hand, to create deadened nerve endings, in pursuit of an art?
Striking the makiwara allows you to increase kinesthetic awareness so you can increase striking force. Performing the same technique in the air does not give you the force feedback necessary for you to 'feel' how your body supports a strike. Remember the first time you got struck in the head? Did you feel that vibration go right into your neck? There's no real way to explain it until you feel it. Just like that, with strike post training you are better placed to gauge how the body structure supports each strike, and are better placed to acquire the necessary coordination to deliver a more optimised blow.

When I first used the makiwara, the tension in the body - whilst sufficient for shadow boxing and light gap closing type strikes - was inadequate for a powerful strike. Most of the power seemed to come from the shoulders and a lot from the arm. The strike of course only seemed powerful because the upper body generated the tension and was the source of the strike ... and this can be misinterpreted as having sufficient striking force.

The secret here - yes, the usual cliche - is to generate the strike from the legs and hips, amplify it through your core, and then transmit it into the striking tool. The factor for success is to make sure that this pulse sent along the body is synchonised very quickly, to not overly use your arm or shoulder muscles to generate power, and to strike with your body mass as a single unit.

When you're hitting that target correctly - you'd know it. There is absolutely no way to hit more powerfully unless you pack on an additional 30 to 40 pounds of additional muscle. And when you do so, the strike will seem easy - not more powerful. It would be like your body was acting in concert with itself. You will however be rewarded with a resounding thump on your strike post - if you're hitting it dead on.

Check out my post How to Hit a Striking Post


Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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27 Feb 2012

Smash with Your Foot Workshop Feb 2012

Kicks have literally run away with themselves. You've got yourself up against how Hollywood represents kicks, the association of kicks with fitness and flexibility, and then your own poor aching hamstrings and inner thigh muscles.

I held a workshop this past weekend to talk core concepts of basic to advance kicks - to look at parameters of movement, basic power generation ideas, tactical pros/cons, and strategic usage of kicks. The idea wasn't to change stylistic approach for the guests participating, but to prompt people to look at the equipment you've got to work with and to see opportunities when delivering strikes in a dynamic environment.

You can barely see anyone, but here's the lineup of instructors who attended. The short one in the middle? That's me.

What we did not touch on very much is the somewhat opposing yet very related ideas that 1) it doesn't matter where the kicks comes from, so long as it lands (and delivers its payload), and 2) understanding 3-dimensional space and obstacles help you plot a flight path to your opponent.

All at once when we're introduced to the world of kicks we are taught specific techniques that are applied in specific ways. However, this specificity or 'tried-and'true' training approach doesn't always help you gain the most out of the kick, especially when you know how versatile this weapon could be. This is because the basic kicks are not as important as basic power generation techniques. I.e. it's not how you lift your leg up or extend it, it is how you transmit mass and acceleration through the weapon into your target. It's really no different from hand strikes.

Habitual movements will be the undoing of a good kicker. Here we are horsing around in order to understand how NOT to flail your arms when you throw a kick.

What is different is that the kick originates somewhere in your hip, and that you might not have use your legs enough to enjoy the articulation of your joints or how accurate kicks could be after a little 'recalibration'.
97.7 Classic FM can still deliver ROCK 'n ROLL!

So when starting to really learn how to deliver the kick, we must stop thinking about the kick in hard angles - oh, this is a vertical front kick, or this is a horizontal roundhouse, or a 45 degree turning kick. We need to identify what we are hitting, place the kick, and then transmit the mass through the fulcrum into the target. This is where basic techniques get you to - a place where you can draw lessons from the 'basics' in order to figure out what this weapon has in store for you.

While most participants enjoyed a relaxing albeit early Sunday morning workshop, here is Sensei Phil  laying it on thick.

On a higher level, understanding the kick's flight path allows you to be aware of the risks you're undertaking with that particular kick. This is not some foolhardy notion that hard stylists can take whatever pain, so long as you demolish my opponent. It is a wiser approach to understand how to maximise impact, how to reduce risk to oneself, and how to effectively weave past opponent's defences and coverage. Looking at 3 dimensional space and objects placed between yourself and your opponent helps you fine tune your kicking weapons and deliver them with more accuracy and better effectiveness.

I move to increase attendance fees to $50 next year, remove the carbon tax, and stop the boats. 

Once again these ideas do not ... or should not contradict any solid self defence or safety advice. There are always inherent dangers with using any specific technique. It is merely our job to find out what they are and apply such knowledge appropriately.

I enjoyed having everyone participate over the weekend.

More pictures are available on our FB page and in the Smash with Your Foot FB Album.

How well do you know Taekwondo?
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Links to Articles that were reference on the day


Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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