Kenpo Budokan Karate: White Belt: Lessons: 20 – Range of Attacks/Defense

Range of Attacks/Defense

“If you can Touch it you can be kicked”

What separates a beginner from an intermediate student? Is it the total number of techniques and forms they can perform? Is it the hours of practice they have put in? Is it their mindset and ability? Yes, yes, and yes to the above. But something else separates beginners from intermediate students, something much more basic. We already touched on it briefly in the lesson on angles of attack. An intermediate student not only knows the techniques and forms, much more importantly, they know their limitations.

Understanding your limitations is a key to being successful in any thing you do – not just martial arts. In the martial arts, knowing your limitations means you have something to work towards (improving your limitations) as well as knowing what you can do really well. There are no limitations within martial arts that proper training and practice can not over come. The mantra in Kenpo Budokan Karate is do what works – and this means, based on your limitations, do what works for you. This does not mean that if you are bound to a wheel chair martial arts will suddenly make you able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but what it does mean is that you will be able to defend yourself as effectively as someone who is not wheel chair bound – because you are working within your limitations.

To be truly effective as a martial artist, you have to throw your strikes at just the proper distance in order to get the most effective use of power out of your techniques. Too close and you end up jamming yourself, too far you either miss completely or overextend yourself. This lesson is all about understanding the proper distance for your techniques.

David vs. Goliath

Martial arts, like many things in life, is all about the numbers game. Knowing your numbers can really help improve your chances of success. The first part of this is understanding where you fall on the scale of “average height” within the country you live in. If you are taller than average, your chances of being attacked of someone taller than you are much smaller than if you are shorter than average. Being taller is not always advantageous. While you might have a great distance game, your short game is going to be off considerably against a shorter opponent. Being shorter is not a death sentence, but rather, it means you need to get into your range – and when you do, you will most likely be too close to your opponent for them to have full power in their strikes (you end up jamming them by default). The rule of thumb is that if you are taller than someone, if you can touch them, they can’t touch you, but if you are the same size or shorter, if you can touch them, then they can definitely touch you. What this means, when translated into self-defense, is that you need to operate under the thought that if you are close enough to touch your opponent, then they are close enough to hit you back.

Gauging Distance

A good rule of thumb when practicing, if you can touch the target with the tips of your fingers, you should be just far enough out of range that you can hit with an effective kick. Taking a half step in from there and you should be close enough to execute techniques with both your front and rear hands. It all comes down to practice, and it is why we emphasize practice so much. With the proper practice, you will start to understand how far you need to be from a target in order to hit it, not too close, and not too far – the Goldilocks distance. When practicing you should be at least one whole step outside of the range to the target – practice getting into and out of range of the target from various distances, so that you start to learn the limitations of your range. Some people are much more flexible than others and can kick much higher than others – however, it is up to you to start understanding this limitation. As you see, most kenpo kicks are below the waist, and most individuals have the flexibility to perform these kicks. However, some people have very limited flexibility, and as such will need to modify their techniques. Practicing your range and distance to your target is a vital exercise so you understand both how far away you can be, and how close you need to get in order for your strikes to be effective. In addition, the practice of getting into and out of range, enables you to better judge distance to target, effectively giving you an edge in a combat situation. And although we don’t teach sparring drills as part of our online curriculum, we do go into sparring in heavy detail in our in-person lessons. It would benefit both yourself and your partner to practice sparring drills so you can start working on dynamic range and motion that can be applied in a combat situation. In a later lesson we will discuss the fighting stance and rudimentary sparring drills, but for now work on understanding your limitations and the range you need for your strikes.

Closing Thoughts

Understanding proper range and distance to your target, as well as where you need to be in order to properly perform the technique is vital to your progress and study as a martial artist. One of the reasons we consistently ask you to send in your videos for review, is so that we can ensure that you not only have proper form on your techniques, but also are maintaining the proper distances and ranges for the self-defense movement. Without this practice and focus, your techniques are not as likely to be successful against an opponent, and without understanding your proper range, you will either be too far outside of the target that you miss or over-extend yourself, or wind up being too close and jamming yourself. In the later lessons on range, we will go over things to do if you wind up too far or too close – remember, Do what works. This means that you need to dynamically adjust your techniques to ensure proper coverage at any distance. Proper practice, both alone and with a partner, are vital to ensure you start understanding these ranges.

Kenpo Budokan Karate: White Belt: Lessons: 19 – Environmental Awareness

Environmental Awareness

In our previous lesson on situational awareness, we discussed the need to understanding your surroundings to ensure that you don’t walk into a situation which requires you needing to use your self-defense techniques. The focus of this lesson, is environmental awareness during a self-defense encounter – meaning being aware of what is going on around, as well as your physical surroundings during a scenario. For every news report about a violent altercation, there are usually reports of “innocent” bystanders getting caught in the cross fire and being injured. This is why, as a martial artist, you not only have a responsibility to defend yourself, but ensure that those around you are also not put into harms way.

Muzzle Discipline

One of the first things you learn when training with a weapon in the military or police forces is the concept of muzzle discipline. This translates into any of the NRA training courses, or any course on handgun safety. The concept is fairly simple – wherever the gun is pointed is where you will be causing damage – therefore, NEVER point the gun at anything you do not intend to shoot. When it comes to self-defense, the concept of muzzle discipline takes on a similar meaning – when dealing with a self-defense situation involving a gun, you need to make sure that the gun is NEVER pointed at anyone.

In the heat of the moment, it can be very difficult to determine your surroundings, which is why you need to start training to be observant of what is happening around you. Based on the people around you, you may need to modify the movement so that you aren’t in a situation where the gun is pointing to the people standing next to or behind you. Even though you would eventually be found not-at-fault for the death of a bystander in a self-defense situation, the ramifications that your actions caused the death of another will most likely haunt you for the rest of your life. Sometimes, it can’t be avoided, and the gun will end up being pointed at someone (e.g. in a crowded situation), however, as the martial artist, it is your duty to ensure that surrounding casualties are minimized. By the same thread, you don’t want to “not take action” for fear of injuring someone else – its much better if one person gets injured and you are able to stop the situation, rather than it escalating and yourself and many others are injured as a result. On the other hand, as we discussed many times, sometimes, the best action is inaction – if you give up your wallet, or the bank robber their monies, many potential injuries can be avoided.

The Bystander Effect

Unfortunately, the more crowded a place, the more likely there will be bystanders getting injured – and at the same token, much less likely that someone surrounding you will help out in the situation. When dealing with a self-defense situation, you should take into account the muzzle discipline at all times, even if there is no gun involved. What this means is that you need to ensure that the technique you are doing, say throwing your attacker to the ground, does not inadvertently injure someone else as a result. In a self-defense situation, you need to think of the scenario as a complex calculus of who you can and will save as a result. For most individuals, yourself, your family, and your friends will come first, with all others coming in secondary. It’s a cruel calculus, but better someone you do not know gets injured than someone you do. The ultimate scenario is where no one gets injured, but if you have to maneuver through a crowded situation, you need to prioritize your motions to protect those who are most important.

The second component of the bystander effect, is how vocal you are with your defenses. As previously discussed, if you are shouting “back away, get away” to your attacker, the perception of those around you is that you are the one being attacked, and as a result, they are more likely to come to your defense (or call for help), than if you are just pecocking and they whip out their camera phones to record the latest installment of bum fights. Your voice is a potent weapon and tool, and should not be overlooked – don’t just mindlessly go into performing the techniques, make sure you are using your command voice to get better control over the situation. Many a fight and situation has been diffused simply by the presence of one or the other parties using their command voice. Remember, as martial artists, we want to take the path of least resistance which results in the minimal amount of physical damage to ourselves and others when possible. First we avoid situations where we might have to use our skills. Next we try and leave the situation. Then we try and diffuse the situation, or use our command voice to stop the altercation. Finally, as a last resort, we use or skills to defend ourselves and others.

What the Eyes See

We’ve covered the issue of weapon control and ensuring proper muzzle discipline. We’ve discussed the need to be aware of those around you so you don’t cause any undue harm to bystanders. We need to redress the issue of movement in a self-defense situation. As we’ve mentioned many times before, when moving in a situation, you need to move to where your eyes can see, and limit the backwards motions to a minimum. Normal vision is considered 107 degrees off to each side, 80 degrees upwards, and 70 degrees downwards (60 degrees inward per eye), however your individual range will vary widely, and your training should account for such. A single step backwards is not terrible – however, a leap backwards, or several steps is. However, if you are aware of your surroundings before you get into a situation, you should be well aware of any physical obstacles around you. A technique that is very helpful, is ensuring that you are constantly scanning your surroundings – I talk about oblivions in another lesson, and you need to ensure that you don’t fall victim to the lure of technology. Whenever you are traveling, or moving from one area to another, you should be scanning to ensure you have a good mental picture of the area. In this way, even if you need to move backwards, if you have scanned the area ahead of time, you can do so with a lot more confidence than just acting alone.

This being said, even with scanning, in the heat of the moment, your muscle memory will most likely take over, and as such, you need to be prepared to press forward and outward in your defense, rather than consistently retreating. What you don’t want to occur is you getting your back up against a wall, or you stumbling and falling by moving backwards (or worse yet falling off a ledge). It takes time and training to get good at the scanning process, and it’s why we don’t start testing this skill until the advanced belt levels (see the upper belt lesson on the gauntlet). At this stage in your training you should be primarily focusing on the proper execution of the techniques, while at the same time start working on your scanning skills so that you become much more environmentally aware of your surroundings.

Taking Care of Business

The last thing we want to touch on during the white belt lesson on environmental awareness (don’t worry we’ll be circling this topic another 4 times by the time you reach black belt), is what to do in situations when you are not alone. Let’s say you are out walking with your daughter in the evening and someone comes up to mug you. What do you do? First, you need to assess the situation and see if this is just a grab the money and run situation (99.995% of the cases) or something much more sinister. If it is the former, give up the money and let them go. If it is the latter, you need to be aware of what and how your daughter is reacting to ensure you have control of the situation.

As a martial artist, we spend most of our days practicing and imagining “what if” scenarios. If you are frequently around friends or family, you should include them in your training to the extent that you prepare them for what to do in these situations. Spend some time with them showing them how they should react, and what you are most likely to do in these situations, and ULTIMATELY make sure that they are prepared to follow your commands without hesitation. It doesn’t need to be anything formal, but the more prepared they are, the more prepared you will be for these situations.

So what do you do if you are accosted and need to react. The first thing is to get your relative out of the direct path of harms way, which usually means placing them behind you or off to the side, you want to be the barrier between them and the attacker – but if you do this, you also need to be aware of their movements to ensure you don’t end up tripping over them. If you’ve been training with them, you should prepare them to run off to a safer location (get behind something solid), and call for help. In a situation where there are multiple attackers, this is not always the best recourse, and your read of the situation should be good enough to determine your course of action. In many cases it’s a catch-22 situation. If you stay together, there is a greater chance of both of you getting injured. However, if you split up and have them run off, the attackers will need to split up their attacks on multiple fronts and become less effective – but, if they do catch up with your friend they are much more likely to be injured. Again, it all comes down to your preparedness and practice.

Concluding Thoughts

This lesson was all about ensuring you know what is going on around you during a self-defense situation. It starts with understanding how your techniques may put others at risk, it follows up with the proper movement and directional motion, and finishes up with scanning and protection concepts. Again, at this level the main focus should be on the performance of your techniques, and start expanding your awareness in your daily interactions. A good practice to start is the 10 second flash test. Whenever you walk into a room, take 10 seconds to memorize everything you see in the room. Leave the room, and in 30 seconds write down everything you can remember. Go back into the room once more and see how correct you were. As you practice this exercise, you will find yourself becoming better and better and recognizing more and more details each time you perform this task, and eventually when walking into a room, you will be able to know the location of things without having to focus on them. It will start becoming second nature to you, and will set you well on the path to becoming much more environmentally aware.

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.

Kenpo Budokan Karate: White Belt: Lessons: 17 – Angles of Attack/Defense

Angles of Attack/Defense

Universal Kenpo Crest
Universal Kenpo Crest
3d Kenpo Crest
3d Kenpo Crest

The kenpo universal circle/crest/patch is a tool that most martial artists should become familiar with. The basis for the design is the combination of possible movements and directions that a technique can encompass. You have your basic directions, up and down, left and right, as well as eighth movements along the diagonals. In addition there are the circling motions both externally and internally. As you go through your techniques, you should notice that each movement (both hand and footwork) usually follows along one of the pathways shown on the Kenpo Crest. The Crest is not just 2 dimensional as represented in the standard crest, but fully 3 dimensional, as the directions encompass everything within your sphere of influence.

In addition, because of your motion, the point of origin for each of your movements continuously changes, and as a result, we are not only dealing with the full 3d movement, but motion within motion within motion. Unfortunately I don’t have a nice animation to show this in action, but I imagine that someone out there has something like this done for a kenpo technique. If not, some animator out there might be nice enough to create one for the Kenpo community.

Poetry in Motion

The Kenpo Symbol is not designed to be a restrictive tool and is not indicative of all possible motions available to the techniques – but diagrams the vast majority of potential movements throughout the techniques. The first step in understanding the kenpo crest is to understand the motions involved within the symbol itself. Get into a horse stance and chamber your hands. Focus, for now, on your right hand. Envision your hand being at the center of the crest looking downward. Throw your punch forward, and notice the direction of travel in relationship to the circle (going along the top vertical line). Pull your hand back into the chamber and notice the motion (going along the bottom vertical line). Next, perform an inward block. Notice that the hand doesn’t travel in a straight line to get to the inward block, but it traverses a circular motion. Extend the hand forward into a chop (as in Five Swords), and again, notice that the motion it takes is not linear, but circular.

Over the next week or so (and really from here on out), you should focus on each of your techniques and see the universal pattern being applied in the motions of all your movements. Instead of using both hands for the techniques do each one individually to emphasize the motion and see how it translates into the universal crest. Once you do this for a while, you will start to see the motion and angles in all of your techniques.

Angles of Attack

Force = Mass x Acceleration. We have a saying in Kenpo that there are no blocks. Each block is a strike against the attacker. Thinking of this with our marriage of gravity concept, your angle of attack should correspond to the incoming force of the attacker (meeting force with force). The second stage of understanding the angles of attack is to start applying the concepts of the kenpo crest into your techniques, and analyzing what the attacker is doing in terms of reaction when you perform the technique. How is their body moving during the attacking phase, and how are your defenses poised to utilize this motion to the fullest potential. Looking at the kenpo crest again, you should see the motion the attacker is following, and meet with an equal and opposite force, circular motions against straight motions, straight motions against circular motions – getting you to the most efficient path to attack possible.

A good practice at this level is playing the part of the attacker, and analyzing how you react to the technique being performed against you. In this manner you can start to move into the theoretical application of the technique much quicker. By analyzing the attacker’s moving parts (by being the moving parts), you can start to see the patterns of attack and start to be able to anticipate much of what an attacker is going to do before it occurs. Working the technique from both angles gives you the best coverage of how the move should work and how you will react in a self defense situation.

Angles of Defense

Everything you do in Kenpo should be contributing to the attack. You should not just block for blocking sake, but block to either strike the opponent causing a reaction, or use the block to set up your next attack. Never in your moves should you be in a situation where you are just blocking attacks. This being said, you need to understand the angles of the attacker, so you can best plan your reaction. If an attacker is coming straight at you, where is the best place for you to move. If you move backwards, you lessen the blow somewhat, but you have the risk of stepping on something and tripping because you don’t have complete visibility in the situation. If you move off at an angle backwards from the attack, you will be hard pressed to be in a good situation to start a counter attack. Sure many of the moves we teach at this level have you move backwards, but this is merely to set your base in reaction to what the attacker is doing to you in the attack. Moving straight at the attacker is an option, but your reaction will have to pristine to enable you to defend yourself properly. Stepping off to the side, again, the distance means you will be hard pressed to counter attack. Moving towards the attacker, off at an angle incident to their direction, therefore is usually the best place for you to move in a self defense situation.

In this, you close the distance gap between you and the attacker, allowing you to counter attack, you have full visibility into your path of motion and won’t have to worry as much about tripping, and you have your momentum plus their momentum to combine into a powerful counter attack. This being said, there isn’t one size fits all defense motion you can follow to be 100% sure to be safe, however, moving incidental towards your attacker is a pretty safe bet – provided you are following proper kenpo motion (moving to their outside, not inside, and along a path out of harms way).

Concluding Thoughts

There is a lot more to the universal motion than we can get into during this lesson, but should have enough concepts for you to practice as you work through your techniques. Make sure to spend some time, going forward, analyzing your techniques, and see how the universal pattern comes into play – both your motions, and the reaction of the opponent. This comes into much bigger play when we start talking about the Dimensional Zone theory in a future lesson. Until then, keep up the great work, and make sure to contact us if you have any questions or comments.

Kenpo Budokan Karate: White Belt: Lessons: 16 – Marriage of Gravity

Marriage of Gravity

In this lesson, we cover one of the most important fundamentals of almost all martial arts – the marriage of gravity. And while there is no wedding involved, the concept of marriage of gravity should be wedded to your techniques from day one. To simplify things, marriage of gravity refers to putting your weight behind your techniques. Instead of just using your muscles for power, you use your body weight to help derive a lot more power and intensity in your techniques. The motions you will see drive the force, in, vertical, and downwards – it also directs us to move the opponent upwards, shifting their center of gravity and throwing off their own internal power. In addition, it means solidifying your stances so that you can transfer the motion you are performing more effectively against the friction along the floor. It is the unification of all these components which lead towards the fullest potential of the marriage of gravity concept – in essence it’s directional harmony in motion.

The Scale and I

Go find yourself a scale to stand on – preferably one that can support more than just your body weight (with a little give and room – the big industrial weighing scales they have at supermarkets are good ones to use). Step on the scale and wait for the scale to balance out. Next, explosively bend your knees, drop your body weight downward, like you are preparing to jump upwards. What happens to the scale? You should notice that the action of dropping your body weight, changes the forces the scale is measuring, and that through the motion, you should have an indication at the level of power you can elicit when using the marriage of gravity in your techniques.

So the question now becomes, how do you translate this vertical force into a force directed in other directions? This is where the marriage of gravity comes into play.

Infinite Insights

From Infinite Insights we have following definition of Marriage of Gravity:

The uniting of mind, breath, and strength while simultaneously dropping your body weight along with the execution of your natural weapon(s). Timing all of these factors with the dropping of your body weight greatly adds to the force of your strikes. This combined action literally causes a marriage with gravity, and makes vertical use of BODY MOMENTUM while employing the dimension of height.

To further aid in understanding, Body Momentum is: Body weight used to increase the force of your action. it involves the coordination of mind, breath, strength, and body weight so that all forces are moving in harmony in the same direction (DIRECTIONAL HARMONY.)

Just as a side note, I would highly recommend any avid kenpoist to pick up the complete 5 volume set (you can get it from amazon here). It contains a lot of background information and more expansions on topics you learn in your studies, and is an invaluable resource for learning Kenpo. It also should be your first resource to turn to when looking for answers about a particular concept or technique. Note, that while not all techniques are described in the manuals, the concepts are.

Translation, the mark of a seasoned Martial Artist

You see a distinct difference between novice students and those students who have been studying for long periods of time. Novice students attempt to use their muscles to power through their techniques – and while this is a valid way to perform your material, it also limits the amount of power you have to your muscles alone. Some of the most difficult students to teach are those who are naturally stronger, because they already have power in their techniques, it becomes difficult to get them to modify their body mechanics to emphasize form over raw muscular power. As the student progresses, you see them start to use more torque and more body mechanics behind their techniques – becoming more efficient and more powerful at the same time. The students who are around the longest, not only have these mechanics down, but they employ the full range of marriage of gravity, sinking into their stances and translating their vertical power into horizontal thrust.

One way we get students to this level of using gravity and their body weight is through exhaustive training practices – the scene where the martial artist in the movies is practicing punches 10,000 times comes to mind. By the time you get to 10,000, you either have a huge amount of endurance (not the goal), or are punching so efficiently that they become effortless, and your body mechanics are contributing to the power, not your raw muscular strength. If the student can do 10,000 and is all due to endurance, you push them to 100,000, then 1,000,000 until they can’t help but use the proper mechanics in the movement.

Practicing this concept takes nothing more than grit, determination, and a ton of practice. If you have access to hand targets and your partner, or a heavy bag, start off your practices by performing your techniques against your partner for 2 minutes, then 5 minutes, then 10 minutes. The goal is not to build endurance (although this will definitely be part of the result), but rather to fatigue your muscles to a point where in order to get the strength and power behind the movements, you will need to use your body mechanics rather than raw muscular strength. If you’re at the point where your first punch is as powerful as your 10,000th punch and you arm’s aren’t too fatigued, then you’ll be finally training with the proper mechanics.

Three Carat Karate Diamond

There are 3 key points in working on your marriage of gravity:

  1. Ensure you have a proper base and solid stance
  2. Ensure you have proper form in your techniques (torque and forward motion)
  3. Ensure you are sinking into the movement rather than just throwing it out there

Although kenpo does not stress super low stances, it does stress solid stances, so the first thing you need to work on is ensuring your stances are solid. Get into your stance, and have your partner push you from different directions – if your stance is solid, you will find that many directions it is pretty difficult for them to move you, while other directions relatively easily. Once you find those directions, work on solidifying your stances and resist your partner’s pushes. If you don’t have a partner, a solid wall (not just drywall) will work the same. Go up to the wall in the stance you are practicing, and push against the wall. The idea is that you should not be able to move yourself when pushing against the wall, but keep the solid stance locking you onto the floor.

The second thing to work on is ensuring that your techniques are executed properly – this is why it is very important to get feedback and mentoring early and often in your martial arts training. We offer free video mentoring to review your material to ensure your techniques are being performed as expected. It behooves you to take complete advantage of this service. The motions that both your hands and feet take, along with the motion of your body all are incorporated into proper technique form. Each strike has a proper form, and you need to make sure that for each part of the technique you are executing proper form. It also means that you need to be practicing the technique with a partner so you can understand how both you and your partner will react when the strikes are thrown. Once you get the motion down, it just clicks and starts feeling right.

Finally, and most importantly, when you are throwing strikes, you need to make sure you are not just throwing strikes for the sake of throwing strikes, but connecting with both body momentum and sinking your stance to drive home the most powerful techniques. In the video I demonstrate the difference between just punching with the arm, and sinking the strike. Even though the “sunk” strike has the same muscular power behind it, the sunk strike also has behind it body weight and power, the results are striking. When practicing with your partner, or against a heavy bag, try both ways of striking – first with just your arms, then with your whole body behind the punch sinking as you strike. If done correctly you should notice a huge leap in the overall power of the technique.

Concluding Thoughts

Marriage of gravity is one of those concepts that never goes away, and when it does start working, everything just starts to make sense. It will take a lot of practice, and corrective feedback to get the concept down, but the results is well worth the effort. Continue your practices, focusing on ensuring that all of your techniques utilize some form of marriage of gravity, and be sure to send us your videos so we can provide feedback and reviews to keep you moving in the right direction.