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Discussion in 'Standup Technique' started by TheBookofSpeed, Sep 13, 2017.
Every action has an infinitesimally isometric and opposite reaction. This is basic newtonian mechanics.
You ever seen a trebuchet in operation? With the two sided booms? That's precisely how they are able to throw 1000 pound rocks over a distant wall. You will always be faster with a counterweight than without (and if you're not, it's because your technique is suffering).
+100 internets for the medieval catapult reference.
Wow that fireball one is awesome!
Btw, action-reaction is not quite the same as moment arms, fulcrums and counter balance @rmongler, but your point still stands.
Let me say first that my intention here isn't to step on anyone's toes. Quite the contrary. I'm just sharing info that someone may find useful. If you don't, then discard it. If you disagree, fine. No harm, no foul. I don't gain anything by convincing someone to agree with me. It doesn't do me any good. I already know what I think.
The problem is that I'm sticking my head into something that is ubiquitous. Tradition and dedication (to a method or trainer) get thrown into the mix. No one likes to have what they've always known to be called into question. But, that's how we move forward. The debate alone can lead to greater understanding on both sides.
I'm a 37 year martial artist and I teach high level problem solving and technical troubleshooting of extreme complexity. I spend my life dissecting interactions and processes. So, I look at things like this completely objectively. My art, ego, and all preconceived notions are discarded as they don't serve me. So, convince me that I'm wrong and I will change immediately. It won't hurt my feelings. I'll thank you and move on. All that matters is to obtain the desired result.
The trebuche analogy:
There is a serious problem with the trebuchet analogy. In the case of a trebuchet the forces are all in the same direction. It's not a counter movement at all. The trebuchet uses leverage, rotational acceleration and the potential energy of weights. I'm simplifying the process tremendously but the key point is that the forces are in the same direction around the center axis.
When fighters use a swinging arm it is typically in the opposite direction of the kicking force. The forces are in opposition and therefore subtract. Looking down from above you would see a left roundhouse traveling in a clockwise motion. The left arm would be swung backward in a slight arc in a counterclockwise direction. The centrifugal, inertial, and tension forces (in the torso) are all in opposition to the kicking motion. The tension forces created in the twisting of the torso have the most adverse effect. You can see these in still photos where the abdomen is creased due to the rotational forces.
For the swinging arm to add to the force of the kick it would have to travel in the same direction around the center axis, which in this case is approximately the spine (depending on the hip position). That would entail shoulder rotation in the same direction of the kick but prior to the kick, much like the forward hip movement prior to a power punch. The problem is that this type of rotation is not practical for kicking and would create a number of problems with inertial forces and over commitment of motion.
In the case of a front kick, the direction of the forces are in completely opposite directions. Those forces don't add, they subtract. If however, the arm were to be forced downward and the kick were to take an upward motion the hips could serve as the axis and the forces would be in the same direction That could actually add to the power of the kick. Unfortunately though the arm is typically swung directly backward negating any potential addition of force.
Of course some fighters swing both arms and some swing their arm forward over the kick rather than behind them (but not in a helpful position or motion). Still, neither of these add forces in the direction of the kicking force.
A respectful thank you for the discussion.
damn, guess the thais have been doing it wrong for hundreds of years.
No offense but your analysis completely disregards the need to maintain balance through the motion and how compromised balance impacts speed and/or power.
As you kick, you're shifting your center of mass (thanks to the extended kicking leg). That creates rotational unbalance. This means that you have to find some way to realign your center of mass through the rotation (either through the hip or around the planted leg). That is the point of the "Swinging arm". By moving into an opposite position from the extended leg, it keeps your rotation balanced around your physical axis.
You're completely right if the only forces in play are the direction of the kick and the direction of the arms and rotation is irrelevant. But even if you don't turn your hips over, your center of mass is still shifting and it still needs to be balanced. How much arm movement is needed to keep the balance centered is certainly debatable but the more rotation, the more unbalanced the kicker. a stronger plant leg doesn't change any of that.
I think kick mechanics have room for variation, even within muay thai. I think as long as as its fast, and it hurts, its done its job. There was a cool sports science comparison between Lyoto's karate chambered kick vs Rua. The distinction was mostly Rua's was more powerful while Lyotos was faster but still sufficiently damaging. At the end of the day they both hurt so whose more "right"? Nobody.
I've heard arm out and arm down during the arm swing from two different Muay Thai camps. Petchyindee taught me arm out, Chuwatanna taught me arm down. Different strokes for different folks. There's even variations in kicking with a straight leg or on a hinge similar to snap kicks. You seem to make a distinction that speed and power exists in bubbles, but going back to the Rua Vs Machida example, what if you could make a "thai style" kick just as fast as a karate classic chambered snap kick? I would argue Rua was a poor example of a muay thai kick, and that it is possible to have a thai style kick just as fast and definitely more powerful than the traditional snap kicks of most tmas. Im taking a stab in the dark that I think you are an american tma martial artist, based on your 2 examples, with an eye for critical analysis. As some of the best american kickboxers 20-30 years ago started to realize competing against the thais, is that their systems needed changing. If you go into any decent MMA/kickboxing gym you may be able to get different looks on how thai elements can make your concept of the kick just as fast, and even more powerful. If you could achieve the same/comparable speed, with more power on a kick, shouldn't it be worth looking into? All I know is every muay thai gym I've ever been to ( 4 in thailand, and 4 in the bay area) have taught an arm swing of some form. Without knowing too much of biomechanics behind it, it just feels most natural.
I think some areas of potential study would be Hippy Singmanee's hinge style kicking has some similarities to what a chambered kick could really do with some torque. Tenshin Nasakawa has a background in muay thai and karate and has some clever fusions as well. So instead of debating the biomechanics of the kick which is definitely not my forte, I suggest you just dabble and get your feet wet in different styles of kicking and see if its applicable. As well as study film of other fighters who blend techniques well.
Panamaican, In my last post I was only addressing force and power because I was responding to a post of which that was the focus. I actually never even wanted to go there. I wanted to keep the discussion on speed alone but the discussion morphed quickly.
I teach and train balance as a deliberate part of MA training. It isn't left to chance. I wrote an article for TKD Times way back in 1996 entitled "Balance: The Foundation of Technique." Trust me, I believe balance to be extremely important.
I understand what you're saying about balance and I said a little about that in previous posts. I'm sure you didn't want to endure wading through all of those boring posts.
I personally don't use my arms for ballast whatsoever. It is completely unnecessary.
You're correct that you "have to find some way to realign your center of mass through the rotation (either through the hip or around the planted leg). I would just never use my arms, by dropping my guard, to accomplish that. I'm a kicker. I've trained in Moo Duk Kwan and ITF TKD since 1980 (many other styles since). My hands stay up through all of my kicks. Every student does it the same way at every school I've trained or taught at. You should be able to execute your kicks with your hands in your pockets. There is no power or speed loss whatsoever once you master it. It's actually very easy. And your agility will be greatly improved. There's a lot of freedom of movement that comes with full body control.
I think the disconnect here is in how we trained from the beginning. The arm swing is comfortable and seemingly necessary to those who trained that way from the beginning. That's entirely understandable. I think that there is a psychological aspect to the arm swing as well that is akin to a kiai during a strike.
Of course, there are styles like MT (about which I am certainly NOT an expert) that incorporate strategies and techniques with the arm swing as a foundational principle. Being a core component of the art it becomes an integral part of that art. The art therefore would be unworkable without it. That's a different scenario.
For the rest of us, I believe the arm swing to be a crutch that was never needed in the first place. Heck, I'm 57 and I can deliver any kick in my arsenal with my hands in my pockets, over my head or anywhere else I want to put them. I know that you young, athletic, and much stronger guys can outperform me exponentially. Try it. Honestly, you don't need the arm for balance. Keep your hands where they can effect your defense and offense. I mean that. Try it. If there are people who can juggle while riding a unicycle you can kick without the aid of your arms for ballast. And you'll probably do it much better than I can.
Sorry that I strayed off from balance a couple of times there.
You'd be even faster using counterveiling forces though.
Not off balance at all. I also kick without dropping my guard, hands in pockets, hands clasped behind my head, etc. and it's how I was trained as well. You have to have enough strength, balance, speed, and power to deliver an effective kick, regardless of hand location (hands might be restrained, you might be holding something you can't immediately drop, etc.).
But I consider that a separate issue from whether or not the swinging arm provides any benefits at all.
It's like throwing a punch from the guard. Sure you can and should throw the punch without dropping the guard but you are giving up something biomechanically to do so. The benefits are substantial and you want to train to be as effective as possible when doing so. But it doesn't change that the body operates a certain way and throwing from the guard requires you to alter the natural movement for the most combat effective movement.
Kicking without the swinging arm is the same. You are giving up the benefit of the ballast to maximize certain utility goals. Those goals certainly justify altering the biomechanical norms but we should acknowledge that we are doing so.
I'm probably going to sound like a right dickhead because I'm talking to someone that wrote 'the book of speed' but... I kind of think the speed of the kick doesn't really matter. Samkor wasn't really a hard kicker but he could set it up and it would land.
As for the debate itself I wanna share this part of my interview with Lucien Carbin (apologies if that seems douchey, the links in my sig if you wanted more of it):
MTG: A technique I often see your fighters perform is to punch while they are recalling their kick, or to throw a knee strike when the arm is coming back. How did you develop these unorthodox techniques?
CARBIN: I like athletics, so I notice that all sprinters have powerful arms. So they use the arm to pull the leg forward.
I used the same technique like sprinters but with kicking. Moving the arm in this way makes the following combination very easy and you don’t use any power.
MTG: Pulling the arm back into the knee or kick makes it harder?
CARBIN: Yes, you gain more speed.
I don't mind people keeping the arm by their head, but I think you sacrifice control. I think it might be easier if you come from a karate or tkd background, but for me coming from a muay thai base, its counter intuitive.
To me you don't sound like anything but someone contributing to the discussion. Agree or disagree, welcome. BTW, in the book I don't even mention the arm swing specifically. Arm position, yes, swing, no.
I really hate that this discussion became so much about power (along with speed). When I started it I was speaking of speed kicks alone. Think jab but with the foot. The kind of kick you would use for a setup, harassment, point sparring, to just keep someone off of you, etc. It's my fault though that power got into the mix because I threw in what I considered to be a passing comment about power. I can't stick my nose out and not expected it to get punched right?
I've learned a lot along the way here though in this discussion. The biggest is (as in the interview you included) the MT influence. So many people here have MT in their background that it has a major influence on how they kick and how they perceive kicking. Regardless of whether they are kicking faster or harder or if they are not (not saying their wrong, just for discussion here) the kicks feel right to them with the arm swing. If it works for them, it works.
Interestingly I took this discussion to another forum where most of the instructors have a background similar to mine. No MT, lots of point fighting, kickboxing, self-defense, traditional Korean and Japanese, etc. So far everyone there has agreed with me. None of them teach an arm swing, they feel that it causes them to lose speed and power.
What do you know?
Everyone is going with what they know, how they have trained, and what feels right to them. That makes sense regardless of the science of it all. Even the psychological effect of doing what you consider to be faster or more powerful (swing or no swing) can be considerable.
I originally trained the arm swing out because I use my hands a lot and I believe in efficiency of movement. When I competed I often used lower kicks to setup head strikes with my hands. I couldn't pull that off if my hands were down. Having my hands up made me faster because my hands didn't have to travel back to position. And, to me, my leg travels faster. When I competed my kicks weren't fast, they were damn fast. When I was competing I never encountered anyone faster. Thank God cause that's pretty much what kept me alive.
My problem from the beginning was the physics and the dropped hands. I still have a hard time with the opposing forces of the arm swing and torso twist. Like with the sprinters mentioned in the interview. The primary arm swing is the upward motion. The left leg is pushing up from the foot on the ground pushing the body upward and forward as the right arm is thrusting up and forward and the right leg is thrusting forward. All forces aid forward movement. The left arm is moving downward (similar to the counter swing in kicking) but it is a relaxed movement. There is no significant force applied by the arms or torso that oppose forward motion but several of the forces aid forward motion. In the case of a roundhouse kick there is tremendous force applied by the arm swing and torso twist that is in opposition of the kicking force. That's my hangup.
I will tell you that because of this discussion I've tried my darndest to kick with the arm swing. It doesn't work for me at all. I'm slow, clumsy and my power is gone (mostly due to messed up timing of impact). But hey, I've barely trained it. And for the life of me I can't deal with dropping my hands. I like to keep them where they protect my melon.
But, if it works for you, or anyone else, great. If it is an integral part of your style (such as MT) your success may be dependent on the arm swing.
Thanks for the input.
OK, this proves that we're just going to have to agree to disagree.
Carbin referenced sprinters for his support of the arm swing so I took a look around. What do you know? Sprint coaches disagree more, or at least as much, than we do here.
The first paragraph of this article:
"No other issue regarding technique and mechanics for enhancing speed remains as controversial as the contribution of arm swing to faster sprinting. Even the world’s top coaches and researchers have different opinions on this issue."
Both sides here can find plenty of supporting evidence for their opinion in this article. I guess we should all do what works for us and move on.
Focus less on the arm and more at what the shoulders are doing. If I want to kick hard and fast I need to engage my core and twist my whole body into the kick. If I just try to twist my hips and keep my shoulders straight, they fight against each other.
The arm is a result of turning your upper body. Straight arm, bent, whatever, as long as the shoulder turns over.
Oh and rico verhoeven throws an excellent right kick, right hand. Look at any of his fights, I consider it his signature combo
I'm curious about your thoughts on that video:
The first kick, is the classic turning snap kick, and as you said, almost no hand movement. But at 4min, he shows the second turning kick that most people call Brazilian, or question mark kick. As he explain, you rotate the hips into the kick, and it's not just a snap at the knee. If you watch at 4:25 when he strikes an shield, you see clearly his arm swinging back to keep the balance. His arm is still bend at the elbow, and not freely swinging back extended, but the need for a swing is there, and the arm no longer protects the way it did at the beginning.
As Nakmuay18 explained, and others before him, it's not just about power, it's also about technique...when you turn your hip into the kick, your arm will swing back.
And also, if you watch any breaking competition of ITF, when they do the turning kick, most of them swing back the arm like Nak Muays:
And it's the same when fighting (although you don't see a lot of turning kicks with the back leg)
So sorry, but even in TKD, when it's not for demonstrations, katas etc...when they engage the core/hips, and not just the knee, arms are swinging back.
Love the first video. Great demonstration of excellent control.
These comments are just my opinion for my style. Like I said a post or two ago. If your style works for you then it works.
For me the arm movement at 4:00 and 4:25 is fine. There's movement but no swing to the back and the hand is back in chamber immediately.
I like the no hands needed exercise at 6:30.
At 7:30 there is arm extension but again, no swing to the back and the arm is kept at the front of the body. A little more movement than I like personally but still good form.
At 8:10 there is more swing but the hand never passes the hip and once again the hand is back in chamber immediately. It's really a drop of the arm rather than a swing. I would never want to drop my defense during a kick. With this guys talent I know he could easily have done those kicks with his hand up if he had wanted to.
I've studied under two Korean grand masters (one Moo Duk Kwan, one ITF). They would have literally kicked my butt for kicking like the guys in the second video.
I was taught, by a Thai, to tuck my chin into my chest and throw my lead hand up to cover my rear ear. So my chin is guarded by my lead chest/ armpit, and the exposed side of my head by my lead forearm and hand.
Swinging my rear arm backwards allows my to generate much more power. It does 2 things, I think:
1) it provides a force to contract all my muscles against and forces everything else to act as a chain against that force. Sort of like when you use a whip, you move it sligthly in the opposite direction before you crack it down in the direction of the thing you're whipping. Or if you throw a left hook, you can make it much more powerful by doing it after connecting with a solid right hand, or by throwing your right shoulder forward before you swing your left shoulder to the right. (standing orthodox)
2) I'm not just rotating my hips, I'm throwing my bodyweight --and hips -- into my opponent. The plane, or center of gravity, that I do this on puts me in a position close to toppling over. The arm swing acts counter to that and keeps my gravity centered so I don't topple.
Sounds like a cross armed or long guard: