Strength and Biomechanics in Martial arts

Steve

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I've been mulling this over for a few weeks now, based on a thread going on in the CMA forums on Wing Chun concepts. The gist of some of the early comments in that thread were that Wing Chun is based upon concepts and not techniques. That this made WC unique. Another was that WC focused on body positioning, leverage and biomechanics over strength.

What I'm wondering is this. Is there any MA style that does otherwise? Does any style emphasize strength at all, particularly over leverage or correct body positioning? I have to admit, I read the comments and my first reaction was, "Yeah? And that's different from every other style how?"

My point isn't to pick on WC at all. Really it's meant to be basically that this thread was discussing what concepts constitute the core of WC. While some of these were specific to WC, many seemed universal in nature. What do you guys think? What concepts can be considered universal? Are there any styles that don't emphasize concepts over technique?
 

mook jong man

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They may not be concepts that are only unique to Wing Chun .
But Wing Chun does take these concepts to the nth degree , to the point where our forms are based on them.

In good Wing Chun the principles will be strictly adhered to , if even one element is missing , then in my opinion it is not Wing Chun.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words , so for people not acquainted with the Wing Chun principles and how we apply them , these videos from my old school will do a better job of explaining them than what I can.




 
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Gruenewald

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They may not be concepts that are only unique to Wing Chun .
But Wing Chun does take these concepts to the nth degree , to the point where our forms are based on them.

In good Wing Chun the principles will be strictly adhered to , if even one element is missing , then in my opinion it is not Wing Chun.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words , so for people not acquainted with the Wing Chun principles and how we apply them , these videos from my old school will do a better job of explaining them than what I can.




I found those videos to be very informative, thanks.
 
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BloodMoney

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This is actually a good point. I guess at their core all martial arts should use leverage or correct body positioning etc, and indeed even the most stiff Karate says they do, just from experience many of them dont, or they dont break it out till your more advanced.

As was mentioned above, Chun does this at its core, its what the whole art is about. Some schools put more on it than others, but so do other arts (the BJJ academy I train at is all about smaller guys being able to defeat bigger guys with body mechanics and leverage, for example). Plenty of triangles and circles in BJJ, thats for sure, but is the same importance placed on them as in a Chun class? Generally not

One criticism I would have of some of my fellow Chun practitioners is there is often the belief that, because so much importance is placed on correct body mechanics, Chun is the only art to do it. It most certainly is not. I think it does it better, and more integrally, than others to be honest (or I wouldnt train it) but its not exclusive to the art. Many schools ive seen say they use such techniques, but then completely go against it all as soon as they start moving their limbs, but to be fair so do many Chun schools!

Id say one of the most unique things about Chun would be simultaneous attack and defense, as opposed to intelligently using your body, or being an internal art that relies on geometry.
 

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A lot of schools and styles say they use leverage, positioning, and an opponent's strength against them, but the reality does not live up to the billing, in most cases. Look at how many schools emphasise strength and speed training. Look at how many schools teach students technique upon technique, but never explain the concepts trying to be reinforced. How many schools train forms as a way to remember techniques, instead of teaching core concepts?

Conceptual training is not exclusive to Wing Chun and not all Wing Chun schools are good at conceptual training. In my opinion, a good school should focus on the concepts more than the technique though. If you have the concepts of a system, you have a blueprint you can refer to constantly to improve yourself. Keep getting hit by something? Well look at your concepts to see where you are failing. Schools that don't have this tend to answer that type of question by increasing physical attributes to make up for the lack of knowledge.
 

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Are there any styles that don't emphasize concepts over technique?

There are some modern dojo that place techniques over concepts, principles. I feel that techniques will address the immediate, but adhering to concepts, principles, will cover all.

They may not be concepts that are only unique to Wing Chun .
But Wing Chun does take these concepts to the nth degree , to the point where our forms are based on them.




I believe that traditional MA have concepts within their kata and forms, but, in some cases this has been watered down for a much faster gratification as in to much sparing, in place of solid drills.
 
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Simultaneous defence and attack I think to me is a good example of a universal concept. I think most arts will strive to achieve this state through their techniques. Doing so is necessary to increasing the efficiency of the techniques employed irrespective of the art I think.

So that is my 2cents fwiw. And Steve you should not have started by mentioning WC now all the WC guys are gunning for ya! Sshhh you should have used your own art as example then universal harmony would be the prevailing concept! :D

Jenna x
 

punisher73

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I've been mulling this over for a few weeks now, based on a thread going on in the CMA forums on Wing Chun concepts. The gist of some of the early comments in that thread were that Wing Chun is based upon concepts and not techniques. That this made WC unique. Another was that WC focused on body positioning, leverage and biomechanics over strength.

What I'm wondering is this. Is there any MA style that does otherwise? Does any style emphasize strength at all, particularly over leverage or correct body positioning? I have to admit, I read the comments and my first reaction was, "Yeah? And that's different from every other style how?"

My point isn't to pick on WC at all. Really it's meant to be basically that this thread was discussing what concepts constitute the core of WC. While some of these were specific to WC, many seemed universal in nature. What do you guys think? What concepts can be considered universal? Are there any styles that don't emphasize concepts over technique?

It's marketing, whether intentional or not. Styles try to talk up their "high points". Watch a commercial for food, they all say "made with fresh ingrediants" implying that the other ones don't. You never hear someone say "made with frozen stuff months old".

Same thing with the MA. There are only so many ways to control and strike another person. The effective methods will all seem similiar in application.

Some styles will at least acknowledge that size and strength are a factor and that strength can be used effectively as a technique in many cases, but not to rely on it.

When you look at the top masters of a style you will really see those concepts in action. Look at Rickson Gracie rolling around and he taps others quickly and without effort. Look at two white belts rolling around and you will see them try to use muscle and strength to make up for the lack of concepts that have not been instilled yet through training. Doesn't mean the art doesn't have them or doesn't teach them, we are just seeing an example where they haven't manifested yet.


And when you see two equally skilled people engaging in a contest, then you will often see that attributes of size/strength matter, which is why we have weight classes.
 
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Stac3y

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It seems to me that boxing emphasizes strength, in addition to technique.
 
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Steve

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You guys all bring up good points. First, I'm sure that we can all think of schools that emphasize one thing over another, even in wing chun.

Also, from the posts so far, I guess my first reaction is that Wing Chun might emphasize things as a policy to an Nth degree, but on a practical level getting to the point where strength, speed or athleticism aren't used, and where specific techniques are supplanted by application of broader concepts is only done at a very high level of proficiency. In other words, it's only when done at a high level that WC concepts can be seen in application.

Same in BJJ. Same in Karate, TKD, Aikido or any other style I can think of. The better someone gets, the more effortless the application of higher level concepts.

In BJJ, we talk about concepts like framing. Framing is simply creating space. For the aggressor, space is the enemy. If I'm on top in 100kilos and looking to pass to mount, I want to eliminate space and create pressure. The more space I allow, the less successful I will be.

On the bottom, I'm trying to create space. Framing is simply using leverage and bio-mechanics to create a structure that will be easy for me to maintain and very difficult for my opponent to counter.

The idea of spacing itself is a higher level concept in BJJ. Creating space, using space, or even more simply put, controlling space.

I was talking to my mom yesterday, who does yang style tai chi. She's pretty new to it and enjoys it a lot. She was saying that tai chi focuses a lot on the legs, generating power, etc through the legs. I told her that it was similar in BJJ, but that we focus more on the hips.

What are my hips doing compared to yours? Where are my hips? Often, the difference between a poorly executed or unsuccessful sweep and a well executed, effortless sweep is your hips location relative to mine. In other words, if your center of gravity is over mine, you're light. The further away you are, the heavier you feel.

Concepts like this are common in every art I've heard of. Aikido, tai chi, wc, karate, TKD and all of the rest.
 
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Steve

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Simultaneous defence and attack I think to me is a good example of a universal concept. I think most arts will strive to achieve this state through their techniques. Doing so is necessary to increasing the efficiency of the techniques employed irrespective of the art I think.

So that is my 2cents fwiw. And Steve you should not have started by mentioning WC now all the WC guys are gunning for ya! Sshhh you should have used your own art as example then universal harmony would be the prevailing concept! :D

Jenna x
:) Simultaneous defense and attack. Thanks, Jenna. And as always, your strategic advice is spot on. :D

Only brought WC up because it was alleged that this is what distinguishes WC from all other styles of MA.

But, correct me if I'm wrong guys, even within the concepts there is technique in WC. The straight punch. Chain punching. How to correctly stand so that your pelvis is tilted in the correct way and all of that stuff... that's technique. Chi sao is technique. Technique that is driven by a higher concept.

Any question that starts with "how" is a technical question, and if you answer these "how" questions within your instruction, you are teaching techniques and not concepts.

And again, my point is that this isn't unique to WC. To the same degree, I believe that all MAs do this. Are they all successful? Hard to say. Honestly, it's debatable that even WC is successful in this. Conversations, even amongst those who train in WC, focus on this very topic all the time.
 
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Steve

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When you look at the top masters of a style you will really see those concepts in action. Look at Rickson Gracie rolling around and he taps others quickly and without effort. Look at two white belts rolling around and you will see them try to use muscle and strength to make up for the lack of concepts that have not been instilled yet through training. Doesn't mean the art doesn't have them or doesn't teach them, we are just seeing an example where they haven't manifested yet.


And when you see two equally skilled people engaging in a contest, then you will often see that attributes of size/strength matter, which is why we have weight classes.
Agreed.

Strength, athleticism and other physical attributes can sometimes shore up gaps in ability. A stronger or more athletic, but less capable person can sometimes overpower a more technical opponent. I'm sure we've all seen it happen. Just last night, I was rolling with a guy who literally bench pressed me off of him. Not good technique, but I can't do that. :)

Strength, size, or athleticism can also contribute to the mental game. When an opponent makes it clear that he's gassing out... breathing hard, gasping for air, groaning... no matter how tired I am, I'll give it a little more effort because I know that I'm winning the mental battle. Sometimes, in a dominant position, just squeezing a little will demoralize your opponent, letting them feel your weight. They feel how strong you are and it saps their will.
 
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Steve

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It seems to me that boxing emphasizes strength, in addition to technique.
While boxing definitely emphasizes fitness (as do many martial arts that incorporate a competitive element), do you really think it emphasizes strength? That's not my impression.

I'm not an expert on boxing, so anyone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but the power of a punch thrown in boxing is very much the same as in other arts. It comes first from the feet, then turning the hips all the way through the shoulders. Not a function of strength, but of solid biomechanics.

While there are techniques in boxing, there are only a very few. I'd bet that there are fewer discrete techniques in boxing than in WC. I can think of the straight jab, cross, hook, and uppercut. Everything else in boxing is conceptual. Head movement, foot work, cutting off angles.
 

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You guys all bring up good points. First, I'm sure that we can all think of schools that emphasize one thing over another, even in wing chun.

Also, from the posts so far, I guess my first reaction is that Wing Chun might emphasize things as a policy to an Nth degree, but on a practical level getting to the point where strength, speed or athleticism aren't used, and where specific techniques are supplanted by application of broader concepts is only done at a very high level of proficiency. In other words, it's only when done at a high level that WC concepts can be seen in application.

Same in BJJ. Same in Karate, TKD, Aikido or any other style I can think of. The better someone gets, the more effortless the application of higher level concepts.

In BJJ, we talk about concepts like framing. Framing is simply creating space. For the aggressor, space is the enemy. If I'm on top in 100kilos and looking to pass to mount, I want to eliminate space and create pressure. The more space I allow, the less successful I will be.

On the bottom, I'm trying to create space. Framing is simply using leverage and bio-mechanics to create a structure that will be easy for me to maintain and very difficult for my opponent to counter.

The idea of spacing itself is a higher level concept in BJJ. Creating space, using space, or even more simply put, controlling space.

I was talking to my mom yesterday, who does yang style tai chi. She's pretty new to it and enjoys it a lot. She was saying that tai chi focuses a lot on the legs, generating power, etc through the legs. I told her that it was similar in BJJ, but that we focus more on the hips.

What are my hips doing compared to yours? Where are my hips? Often, the difference between a poorly executed or unsuccessful sweep and a well executed, effortless sweep is your hips location relative to mine. In other words, if your center of gravity is over mine, you're light. The further away you are, the heavier you feel.

Concepts like this are common in every art I've heard of. Aikido, tai chi, wc, karate, TKD and all of the rest.

Steve, you did a beautiful job explaining this. Thank you. :)

Lori
 
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Steve

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They may not be concepts that are only unique to Wing Chun .
But Wing Chun does take these concepts to the nth degree , to the point where our forms are based on them.

In good Wing Chun the principles will be strictly adhered to , if even one element is missing , then in my opinion it is not Wing Chun.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words , so for people not acquainted with the Wing Chun principles and how we apply them , these videos from my old school will do a better job of explaining them than what I can.




These videos definitely articulate the concepts in an easy to understand way. The first video looked very artificial. The ukes were flying out of frame, and in a couple began falling even before they were "struck." I understand that this was a demonstration, but hyperbole like this only confuses the issue, IMO.

I also think it's very interesting in this discussion that the only real demonstrations of the concepts in practice were done by grand masters.
 
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This is actually a good point. I guess at their core all martial arts should use leverage or correct body positioning etc, and indeed even the most stiff Karate says they do, just from experience many of them dont, or they dont break it out till your more advanced.
It comes across as training the technique to develop the skill vs learning the skill to develop the technique to me. Both approaches end up at the same place. One doesn't really explain it outright.

Id say one of the most unique things about Chun would be simultaneous attack and defense, as opposed to intelligently using your body, or being an internal art that relies on geometry.

Black Belt/Kuro Obi is an entire movie dedicated to the concept of simultaneous attack and defense as it relates to Karate. That's also a fairly common notion among all arts. (How it's achieved may differ tho.)
 

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Spin. That is what is being done. They take the words "concepts" and "techniques" and spin them.

All arts are based off of concepts. Those concepts are then applied with techniques that adhear to the arts concepts.

That is it in a nutshell. No spin the the plain and simple. That is why each art looks as it does. Because of the techniques used adhear to the concepts of the art. If not then you are not doing the art but something different.
 

WC_lun

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Spin. That is what is being done. They take the words "concepts" and "techniques" and spin them.

All arts are based off of concepts. Those concepts are then applied with techniques that adhear to the arts concepts.

That is it in a nutshell. No spin the the plain and simple. That is why each art looks as it does. Because of the techniques used adhear to the concepts of the art. If not then you are not doing the art but something different.


I don't agree with this. While all arts are based upon certain concepts, not all schools train the concepts. If you do not know what the concepts you are training, how do you know you are adhering to them? Training technique does not equate to understanding what you are training. Yes, technique training is important, because we must all start somewhere, but if you know the concepts underlying the technique, the techniques themselves don't mean as much anymore.

A kick is a technique. A good kick follows certain concepts that make it "good." If you don't know what concepts those are, how do you know if your kick is good. How do you make your kick better? Yes, your instructor can show you a good kick, but if he can't show you why its a good kick it is just a game of monkey see, monkey do.

The "spin" I see normally is martial artist who train in this monkey see, monkey do manner, but do not want to admit to it. It becomes very apparent when you talk to one of the people because they can't understand anything beyong the techniques they have memorized.
 

Jenna

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I think aside from physical concepts there are also philosophical concepts that most arts keep in common I mean the idea of self-confidence or self-improvement through the practice of techniques I think is quite universal and but I do not wish to derail the thread if that is irrelevant. I am just saying because this thread is interesting and has made me think which is rare in itself :) Jenna x
 

mook jong man

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These videos definitely articulate the concepts in an easy to understand way. The first video looked very artificial. The ukes were flying out of frame, and in a couple began falling even before they were "struck." I understand that this was a demonstration, but hyperbole like this only confuses the issue, IMO.

I also think it's very interesting in this discussion that the only real demonstrations of the concepts in practice were done by grand masters.

Well of course it looks artificial man , they're trying to sell something , they are going to make it look as good as possible.
That sort of over acting sometimes happens with enthusiastic junior students when they are used as attackers.
I'm sure even your school if it is commercial would do much the same thing.

But in no way does it make the techniques shown any less legitimate , effective or powerful.
When done for real the attacker will not fly back out of frame , they will just DROP.

The reason I put up the first video was because it uses some good graphics to explain centerline theory etc , not to show case techniques.

Of course the only real demonstrations of the concepts in practice ( in your opinion ) were done by Grand Masters , thats maybe why they're called Grand Masters.
 

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