Kenpo Budokan Karate: White Belt: Lessons: 18 – Push Pull Motion

Push Pull Motion

Welcome to the world of the One Inch Punch

When I first became interested in martial arts, Bruce Lee was one of the key influences on my early training – his philosophy of Jeet Kun Do really fascinated me (and later to learn that Ed Parker had worked with Lee to help bring Martial Arts to the forefront of America). One of the coolest things I ever saw was the demonstration of the one inch punch. After years of training in both hard and soft style martial arts, I can say, without a doubt, that the one inch punch is a valuable tool for any martial artist’s toolkit. However, getting the body mechanics correct 100% of the time takes a long time of practice and effort. What if there were a way you could harness the power of the one inch punch without having to dedicate years of training to master it?

Enter the world of push-pull motion. The basic concept of the push-pull motion is very simple – for every technique that you are pushing outward, you are also pulling inward with another movement. It helps to generate the torque necessary for the explosive power (one inch punch), as well as ensuring that you have the proper body mechanics in place to deliver the most effective techniques.

Breaking down the Inward Block

As mentioned before, everything in kenpo is considered a strike. Let’s break down the simple motion of the inward block and see how push-pull motion comes into play. Start off in a solid square horse stance with your hands chambered. Have your partner with a set of black hand targets ready for you to practice on.

The first part of this exercise will be to isolate the motion that the hand and arm travels to perform a proper full range inward block. Starting with your hand chambered, cock your hand up to your ear, then execute the inward block across the mid line of your body. During this practice, make sure to bring your other hand all the way back into the chambered position before practicing the inward block – it might even be beneficial to practice with one arm at a time. Once you get the mechanics and timing down, have your partner extend his target and practice the block against the target. Depending on your upper arm strength, you’ll be generating varying amounts of power.

In the next part of the exercise we are going to add in the push-pull motion. Execute an inward block with one hand. This time, instead of bringing the hand back to the chamber position first, you’ll leave the arm there at the start of your next inward block. As you execute the inward block with the other hand, bring your other hand back to the chamber in a quick, explosive manner. Visualize bringing the hand back in such a manner as you are elbowing a person behind you. Once you get comfortable with this new mechanic – blocking as you simultaneously bring your other hand back to chamber, have your partner again extend his target to practice the block. This time, you should notice a substantial increase in the power of the block. You should also have the partner stand behind you (better yet get 2 partners), to see the power and strength of the backward elbow at the same time you are blocking across.

Mechanics in Motion

All your techniques going forward should exhibit some elements of the push-pull motion, as you practice your movements, be aware of your body mechanics and ensure that you are properly pulling back as you are pushing forward. In later techniques, you’ll see even more applications of these dual types of motion, but for now, just think about it as a mechanism to generate more power in your techniques. In simple terms, the action of pushing while you are pulling, enhances your motion through a torque principle. By emphasizing the pull back while you are pushing outward, your body mechanics align to produce this torque.

Do you need the push-pull motion to deliver torque? Not necessarily, however, by emphasizing this motion you will automatically be inserting torque into your movements. In the same thread, push-pull motion is not present in 100% of the techniques, but elements of it are. As you start to examine these principles you will start to see their implementations in everything we do in the CMATOS system. The fundamental concept and technique we are looking to convey in this lesson is ensuring that your body mechanics are in place, so that as you progress through the ranks, your techniques will become more dynamic. Another purpose for the push-pull motion is to ensure that your hands and feet are in the proper position for follow-up strikes. If you hands and feet are all over the place, it becomes much more difficult to follow through with the rest of the technique, but by ensuring you have proper push-pull motion in place, your hands and feet automatically go to the next “staging” area for further movements. Part of the reason we only teach the base techniques and not the full techniques with extensions at this level, is to ensure that your body mechanics, as well as hand and foot position are sufficient so that when the complexity of the extension is added, you can be sure to flow into those movements with little to no problem.

Concluding Thoughts

If you take one thing out of this lesson you should be focusing on ensuring your hands are properly positioned for the next technique. Yes push-pull gives you more power and torque, but even more importantly it ensures your hands are properly positioned. Other than foot work, most beginner students have a hard time performing these minor details in their techniques. In the video I mention rib-thumping as a way of ensuring your techniques are properly executed. Be sure to start incorporating this into your standard practice, and be sure to send in your questions, comments, and videos for feedback so we can ensure your training is progressing along correctly.

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