Why chamber a kick when we can throw it faster without chambering?

A question was posed to me about the issues between how traditionally we are taught to chamber a kick, and then what you have in sparring where kicks are thrown without the chamber. This was my reply, edited to be read on this blog.

From a historical perspective, and this might not relate fully to the chambering itself but may be of interest to your background, I believe I read somewhere that Funakoshi sensei was an advocate that the snap back of the kick was essential to deliver the full power yet reduce the injurious recoil or the vibration going back to your joints.

From my perspective, the chamber allows for the full range of motion. This means that one can deliver a textbook perfect technique at the prescribed range and towards a prescribed target. This is a teaching approach for beginners, and for instructors to ensure everyone is learning the prescribed biomechanics, understanding angles of entry, and 'parameters' (my instructor's term not mine) of various fundamental strikes.

However, for the sake of tactical delivery, the full range of motion is not always available or preferable. To reduce distance to target, it may be better to strike from where the tool is, rather than to bring it back and go for the full range of motion. Thus the end tool is picked up from where it is at, thrown at the opponent, and 'rejoins' the flight path of your textbook perfect technique at some point.

Additionally, facing off a more adept opponent may require you to explore additional angles of entry - the practitioner is forced to adapt the flight path, while considering the framework provided by the various basic kicks, in order to fly the weapon through three-dimensional space and deliver its payload to the target, and not to the obstacles placed in the way.

Lastly is the issue of makiwara training and power generation vis a vis the chambered kick. Before I trained the makiwara, I powered most of my punches through shoulder rotation, speed, and effort. I lifted heavier weights to gain more muscle mass. I hit the bag like a boxer. However, when I gained insight through the makiwara, I understood that I could pulse the legs and hips, and send much more body weight through the core, and transmit that with incredible effectiveness into the end tool. This traditional training spurred me to apply the insight that power generation is influenced by transmission of body weight at point of impact.

For the chambered kick, and for all processes we get student practitioners to go through - this is as much for timing, as it is for biomechanics. The student needs to deliver the strike within possibly 2 or 3 inches - whilst throwing a technique at considerable speed and performing under duress. This means to be able to structure the body most effectively to time the transmission of as much body weight as possible whilst remaining tactically effective and staying in the fight.

For this reason ... as a 47/8 year old practitioner, I am able to generate a heap of power whilst not having an equal amount of muscle mass as other students who are much younger and stronger than me.

On a separate note, the act of chambering a kick has additional tactical use aside from delivering the kick. In this video applying the low side kick from Bassai I show a chamber for a side kick used to clear the lead leg. It could variously be used to knee strike other parts of the opponent's anatomy or defend against primary attacks. Similarly, the chambering of the front kick can stop another front kick. The chambering of a wave kick can cause the practitioner to defend the wrong part of his body - before sidekicking the knee or ankle. Etc.

Something to think about - the chamber of the kick and its full extension lengthens the movement and stretches out the power cycle of the technique. Shortening the power cycle requires a fairly good grasp of its dynamics, and allows the practitioner to go for the zippy and punchy moves more appropriate in a sportive arena. Delivering power like this however, takes much more skill IMO. I'm not saying I don't see sloppy techniques knocking people out. I'm just saying a correctly applied kick is not only hard to read but frightening.

Anyone care to talk about chambering and combination kicks? :-)

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