Alas, I must draw this mini-series to a close. I will end this mini-series with how footwork can greatly increase your power with punches. A dancer’s feet are one of the most important things to her craft. Her feet propel her forward, lift her to amazing heights, and can gracefully glide across the dance floor. Understanding what parts of the feet give you agility, stability, and how to transfer your weight back and forth is key to creating graceful movements. Once you understand the amazing power of your feet its time to align the rest of your body with the movement of your foundation.
Footwork and Punching
Understand your feet and what they can do for you in a fight. The balls of your feet give you speed and agility. Your heels ground you and give you pushing power. When it comes to mobility you want to use the balls of your feet. As you move, keep your weight centered over your feet. Imagine there is a string attached at the top of your skill, travels down your spine, and connects to the floor. You want to keep that string as straight and upright as possible. As you begin to move use your hip to start the movement followed by your shoulders and feet. You want to make sure your foot is on the ground before you connect with your punch. Timing is key to power generation. Your foot connects to the ground propelling you forward, your shoulders are already rotating into the punch, all that power is traveling from the ground up your body and out your fist. It takes large movements to train muscle memory and timing. Then as you get the hang of it to make your movements smaller and smaller. Who knows you may even master the 5-inch punch with enough training.
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Here is the third video for my mini-series “Dancing: Martial arts secret weapon.” In the first post, “Dancing: Martial Arts Secret weapon.,” I covered warrior cultures who teach dancing as part of their warrior training. In the second post, “Dancing: Martial Arts Secret Weapon Part 2,” I focused on body movement and transitions. This video covers the 5 basic attack angles most bladed weapons styles use. In this video pay close attention to how the length and weight of the weapon change the body movement. There are subtle shifts in the wrist, shoulder, and hips. Those subtle shifts can easily double your power and effectiveness. I have a playlist on my YouTube channel with all the videos I have and will create for this mini-series. The YouTube channel is called Ironside Medieval Combat and the playlist is called “Dancing vs Martial Arts.”
The type of weapon greatly changes how and why you should move. A knife is a small and short weapon. The trick is to keep your arms close to your body. Small efficient movements that are quick. The more you move your arm away from your body the more wasted energy you have, and the slower you will be. A machete is longer and heavier, which means you also have a high risk to your hand. Machetes don’t have handguards. To protect your hands try cutting with the tip of the weapon. You still need to keep your elbow tucked to protect your arm from getting cut. That means you have to use your shoulder and hip movements to move a longer weapon and generate power. Last is a dancing sword or saber. Due to the curve of the blade, length, and extra weight it cuts with the blade more than the tip. Again there isn’t a handguard, and sadly no armor, so keep your elbows safe and tucked close to the body. Shoulders and hips are used for the same reasons as the machete. With the dancing sword, I used my wrist to keep the blade in constant movement. Small movements of the wrist translate to big movements of the blade. When it comes to dancing and play that is pretty and fun. When it comes to fighting that can be sloppy. Start with big movements then develop the muscle control to generate power without showing off with the blade.
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When it comes to generating power in martial arts it is about fighting smarter not harder. Raw strength is a great asset for martial arts, however, muscles often distract from using body mechanics to increase your power. The other benefit for using body mechanics is conservation of energy. You can throw a significantly high number of hard hits blows faster and longer when you use body mechanics instead of the muscles in your arms.
Use this drill as a warm up to start training your core to help generate power instead of your arm:
This drill is designed to practice the downward strikes at the neck and shoulder. The strike comes in at a 45 degree angle. When practicing this strike on a straight pell like the one in the video it is normal for the sword to slide down. Make sure your initial contact is edge on at a 45 degree angle to the pell. Be sure to over exaggerate your movements as you learn this drill. It’s about teaching your muscles timing and firing to add speed and power to your strikes.
This next drill is training your feet to step in time with your body’s swing. Many new fighters will strike before their feet are on the ground, which results in having a foot in the air as they are trying to hit. That means they lose 25-50% of their power from poor footwork.
Be careful with this drill! You will need about 3 feet of rope with some kind of weight on the end. I used a 2.5 pound weight. Do not go heavier than 2-3 pounds. You just need the weight to get the rope moving and feel the drag of the rope. Start with the rope a little shorter as you learn this drill, then you can go longer once you get the hang of it. Start by just swinging the rope around your head like a cowboy. Focus on the feel of your core muscles and how you are engaging your muscles with this movement. As you get used to the movement start to add steps. You want all of your muscles to move in the same direction driving your power into your opponent
Time to put it all together and start learning how to apply this technique in a fight.
The secret to this technique is turning your body into a whip. Your hips generate the power sending it through your shoulders into your arms. Once the power has been released you pull your hips, shoulders, and arm back to create that extra whip at the end. The video above is a quick explanation of this concept. If you want a more detailed explanation of this technique check out “Team Ursus: Jeffery Galli Polearm Training Exercises.”
This article gives you a preview into the type of training found at Ironside Medieval Combat. If you like what you see come give one of our classes a try! We also offer online classes for those of you who live far away – Sign up for Online Classes.
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The longsword tutorial videos and drill for this week have been posted to our new online class. This week is focusing on power and body mechanics. When done right you will have precision, deadly accuracy, and a ton of power. I have had TV analysts measure the power of my longsword strikes and they calculated my strikes coming in with several hundred pounds of pressure. In this video I’m using a functionally sharpe (sharp enough to cut your finger, but not razor sharp) sword to cut a pig in half. I was able to punch through muscle, bone, and the spine of a 100 pound pig while it was swinging freely. Make note disputes the pig moving my strike landed in the same place every time. If you would like to learn how I did that sign up for our online class and learn my secret!
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