How important is physical strength?

S

SingingTiger

Guest
In Ian's thread about his friend who got stomped (I hope he continues to get better, Ian), he said this:

I think he thinks that because he's so small he'll be no good at it, but I've tried to convince him otherwise.

That reminded me of a question I've been thinking of for a while: how important is physical strength when it comes to Kenpo effectiveness? Not important at all? Somewhat important? Critical?

There's a little bit of strength training in the workouts at my school, but it's more of a "conditioning" thing than an attempt to actually build a lot of muscle mass. I see a lot of posters here who mention working out with weights many times a week. I lift weights, but only occasionally, and I'm not very strong; I just thought I'd get some opinions on whether or not that will negatively affect my effectiveness as I learn more Kenpo.

Thanks,
Rich
 
Originally posted by SingingTiger
That reminded me of a question I've been thinking of for a while: how important is physical strength when it comes to Kenpo effectiveness? Not important at all? Somewhat important? Critical?

Physical strength is just a tool, like any other. Don't get too reliant on any one tool because, eventually, all tools will fail (either through deterioration or because of situational factors).

In my estimation, though, the most important tool is timing. Tying for second would be body mechanics and relaxation. These form the foundation that make everything else work; they're like the undercarriage of a car. The engine provides power and speed, the wheels provide mobility, the body provides defenses, the windows provide awareness. If any of the other aspects fail, other aspects can be there to pick up the slack; if your strength fails, your speed or mobility may be able to pick up the slack. But if the undercarriage fails, the car won't go. If your timing fails, you're pretty much hosed. If you get too tense or have poor body mechanics, then everything else better be in absolute top form for you to have any chance.

And, of course, always watch for ice on bridges ;) Luck is always a factor in a fight.

Mike
 
pesalit,
I will agree with your post to a point. All the attributes you stated are important, but physical strength hold a high position than you give it. This is because physcial strength allow you to make small mistake and live to tell about them. Strength and durablity can compensate for timing, but not totally. Further, particular skills are more important in particular arts, example balance is more critical in judo than a pure striking art and it dependant on the persons physcial size, I am large and strong, so timing isn't as important a balance and relaxing, a smallere person timing would be important. Bottomline is that being balance in all skill is the most important.

Mountain Sage
 
SingingTiger and other fellow Kenpoists,

I believe you have brought up a very interesting question. Recently, I have been instructing a weekly self-defense course at a local fitness facility and after much thought I feel that physical condition is definitely going to either help or harm you.

An interesting note is in Mr. Parker's volume 5 of Infinite Insights, he lists 12 priorities in self-defense techniques and the last priority is "Physical and Mental Conditioning." I might be in the wrong, but this meant to me that your physical condition is really going to matter. Some people might be limited as far as what they can do. It can only benefit you if you are in better physical condition... you can generate more power, last longer, and it might be the one thing that will help you overcome your assailant.

Good journey!

Respectfully,
Joshua Ryer
UPK Pittsburgh
 
If you really want to take someone down, it's going to be about hitting the right spots, and usuall they're not the sorts of places that need hitting hard to get good results.

Throaght, sternum, groin, kidneys and knees (as well as more serious targets such as eyes) are all excellent targets that people with little strength can strike effectively, there's really no need to come in with a big knockout punch!

As well as this, kenpo teaches situational awareness, situational management and also frame of mind as well, which are all important tools that might stop being getting into these situations in the first place.

There is a lower limit though, of course some degree of stength is needed to strike all but the softest targets effectively, so I would never go so far as to say that it isn't an issue; just less of an issue than many people imagine.

Ian.
 
In the sense of gathering all the tools you can to ensure survival, I think it's important to develop some physical strength. Also flexibility, stamina, confidence, and a strong spirit.

In many arts (and often in Kenpo) I see big guys. In fact, the default body type seems to be: male, 5'8"- 6'2", 180-240 pounds. Muscular or heavy or some of both. I know one guy who is so strong he could probably bench my car, but has zero flexibility. I also know a 5'10" guy who's 300 lbs- and he is FAST and flexible, but has zero endurance.

Personally, at my size I NEED some strength training to increase my odds at surviving an attack. Absolutely. But my brain is still the best weapon I can have. Knowlege, experience, common sense, confidence. I try to bring them with me when I go out.
 
The way I understand it's not the strength. It is more of the marriage between speed, gravity, and torque. The marriage of the three can make the smallest person into a fairly powerful person. ANd of course I think kenpo is perfect for smaller people.
 
I believe that strength is more important in a confrontation where less than lethal force is called for, unless you are skilled in arts that rely on holds, throws and chokes. Strength gives you an alternative.

When my karate skills were at their peak I was deadly, but in a "horsing around" mode - I was useless. What is one going to do, break your brother in law's nose, ear drums or arm to stop him from wrestling you to the ground. That was a choice I faced about 15 years ago on my birthday. I love my brother in law and we had been drinking and he decided I'd look better without my bathing suit. He is strong, works out and has unbelievable stamina. All I could do was severely hurt him; which was never going to happen. So my suit wound up in a tree.

Unless you are proficient in those arts that focus on less than lethal force you only have one mode - do serious harm. Anything less and you are a danger to yourself.
 
It seems that speed is more important than strength, but when I look at all the "big guys" in the kenpo world (i.e. the high-ranking old-school BB's) they are all very LARGE (you know who you are!). I am 5'6" and weigh about 140 and I feel very confident about my techniqes and so forth, but then I stand opposite some 300 pounder and I'm like "give me a break". Talk about back-up mass!
 
They're not ALL large (the seniors). I'm a 300 pounder, working
becoming less. The instructors in my school are all just under 6',
and I'd say about 165, average weight. They throw me around
like rag dolls!! I have no trouble in admitting they could royally
kick my butt. But take another average student, say of their
weight and height .. and they don't have to work quite so hard to
do the same thing to them.

On the opposite extreme, I've worked with some people that are
90 lbs soaking wet, and when the two extremes meet (of
beginner and intermediate levels) size AND strength do come into
play. The lesson I learned from it all is, play to your strengths! I
can't move as fast as some "weaker" students.

So in short, I think it's a factor, but it's not a dominating factor,
nor a main factor.
 
Since I'm 5'5, it makes a great difference for me when young pups get the idea that they can take me. I've lost a step, or two, so that serves as my back up. Since I teach in a High School, it's a nice deterent, and elsewhere.:asian:
 
strength? boy it's good to have off at work so i can look at all these things today ,look if you have a problem with someone and you can't talk your way out of it?
don't worry what tecq you should use? and don't worry about the ideal phaze(hope i spelled that right?) do (if you guys do this yet)
go to the WHAT IF, and if you don't know what i'm saying?
than put your finger in his eye,
now i ask you how much strength will that take??
you do the math.
yours in kenpo


:asian:
 
*POKE* Captain Insano shows no mercy
-Bobby Bouche Waterboy-
 
Originally posted by lonekimono
strength? boy it's good to have off at work so i can look at all these things today ,look if you have a problem with someone and you can't talk your way out of it?
don't worry what tecq you should use? and don't worry about the ideal phaze(hope i spelled that right?) do (if you guys do this yet)
go to the WHAT IF, and if you don't know what i'm saying?
than put your finger in his eye,
now i ask you how much strength will that take??
you do the math.
yours in kenpo


:asian:

That's jus it, I'm terrible at math!:rofl:
 
Why lose any advantage possible if you are training for life? Strength, like anything else is but one component; Why give any advantage to an adversary?

I am not saying to be a bodybuilder, and yes, I have had students that a strong wind would make them fly sideways like a flag; but strength training (not to be confused with bulking up) is an important part of the complete warrior. It offers me the opportunity to utilize options not otherwise available, I am thinking specifically of some contact manipulations, controls, and immobilizations. Now I have sparred with others much stronger than me, larger, less body fat, etc., and come out ok, but that is because of the other "components" that are also trained, and the knowledge of how to use them.

Respectfully,
-Michael
Kenpo-Texas.com
 
I spend an awful lot of time devoted to physical fitness. Today I ran 3.2 miles on the treadmill then biked 10.1 on a stationary bike. Lifting weights is an important aspect of my life as well. I'm trying to rehab some ribs and when it comes to chest day it makes me feel soooo much better. Anyway lifting weights and cardio I think are important as a martial artist. Just my opinion.:asian:
 
I'd have to say that strength is a tremendous asset. It's easier for a big guy to throw his weight around and make something happen than it is for someone else to try and set up a throw or strike.

I'm about average size 5'9" 175 lbs. I've been busting my butt at the gym lifting like a mad man, and I can't gain any weight. Fortunately though I've gotten a lot stronger and as those things go, a lot more confident in my kenpo. It's always better to have more resources than you need, than not have enough when you really need it. That goes for everything from strength, to cardio, to time, and finances (don't ya just love how martial principles can influence your daily life).

Anyway, I think that strength is important but stamina is crucial. If you have no cardio and you get put in a stressful situation you are going to fatigue faster than you would otherwise. Look at it this way, if you're gasping for air after running through a technique line a couple of times or sparring a single 2 minute round (no matter how vigourous), then you should probably work to increase your aerobic and anaerobic capacities.

Strength training is important but I think many overlook the cardio conditioning aspects of their workout routine.

Just my thoughts.
 

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