Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Friday, June 22, 2018

Force and Structure in Martial Arts

Below is an excerpt from a post at The Martial Body on the topic of force and structure in martial arts. The full post may be read here.

In this article we are going to look at the ways in which force being applied to us can be handled by our body without the requirement of movement. This subject is the first to look at, before we discuss movement, tactics, attacking, returning, etc. As soon as we touch someone, or they touch us our body is interacting with a new force. How we deal with that force is an expansive topic but here I will simply highlight some of the most common, and slightly less common methods that we use.
Firstly, we need to think about why the mechanics by which we deal with forces applied to us may be important. Is it not simply enough to ‘resist’ until the opponent changes? Well, frankly, in most cases no it isn’t. The opponent, if trained will take advantage of this. Simply imagine the implications of ‘resisting’ a punch to the face until the opponent give up! … not ideal.

The ways in which we use our trained body can have a direct impact on our ability to defeat the partners force, even if it is of a superior magnitude. The way force is initially dealt with can help us create or utilize movement, can help us protect our stability or provide us with much needed breathing room.

A simply analogy for the varied ways in which force applied can be dealt with would be to imagine a seesaw. The classic seesaw is a long solid length over a pivot, as force is applied to one side the other side rises, and vice versa. Here it is the solidity of the length that is important.
We can also imagine a seesaw that is a series of lengths spanned with elastic. In a static position it appears the same, but as force is applied, the elastics stretch, and the length distorts until finally it moves. Further we can think of the pivot being moved closer to the side where force is being applied, and how the force required to move the other end increases as a result. These ideas are crude when we apply them to the human body, which far from having a single pivot, has multiple points of 3-dimensional rotation across multiple joints.

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