Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Sometimes learning proper technique is hard – it requires practice, time and a lot of failure to get it right. The desire to just muscle-through technique is always with us, no matter what we are doing.

If you’re doing curls in the gym but don’t want to look like a weakling – throw your back into the lift and let momentum do the lifting for you! That way you get minimal bicep gains, but look awesome with that extra 20 lbs on the bar! Don’t wanna learn a proper hip throw? Just pick the dude up and heave him over; forget about your wrecking your back, that throw was solid! Who needs to learn proper blocking if we are so freakin' beast mode that our iron jaw can deflect incoming attacks without fail?

Meet THAT GUY: Power Man.

You know the type. Usually one of the larger ones in the dojo, Power Man can easily brush off technique with his Herculean physique. He is man with no time to waste and if he can’t learn something properly, he’ll just smash his way through! He is Hulk incarnate – or at least tries to be. Because you know… looking like you can do something is much more important than actually being able to do something.

Power Man has some flaws. Though he looks naturally awesome using his size advantage to the fullest, his “natural ability” is used at the cost of doing things the right way. Pit him against an opponent of equal strength and the lack of technical training will be his downfall.

The problem is – powering through technique can work (often). That is why we have weight classes in competition, size and strength do matter. In the heat of training, it is much easier to muscle-through to success than it is to swallow your pride and look like a newbie for a few reps.

We should always be mindful of when we are doing something right, or just powering through it. Strength can be overcome by skill pretty easily. Natural size advantages can be mitigated by proper technique. Jackie’s favorite - Bruce Lee - was a small fella, but we all know of his legendary power. This power came from years of doing it right.

Unlike Power Man, we must resist the temptation to look cool at first and learn to do things the right way. If Power Man were to use his hugeness with some proper technique, he would be devastating. But fortunately for us, the positive reinforcement Power Man gets from using strength rather than technique will likely keep him from ever being that good.

Another thing Power Man needs to look out for is injury. Almost every injury I have ever seen is from someone trying to overpower a situation. This can be dangerous to you and your partner.

Because a lot of these injuries sneak up on you over time, it is hard to know when that next power-through is going to put you out for a while. Sometimes they are instantaneous.

We were practicing self-defense a week before our black belt test a few years ago. One of our candidates threw his partner to the ground at the end of some drill. He lost his balance in the momentum of the throw and landed on the ground on top of his partner – broke three of his ribs. They were practicing escapes, it was not necessary to look cool with a throw like that (we are not a Judo school).

So before you add power, learn the technique behind it first.

Do you have any tales of Power Man? Are YOU Power Man? Tell us in the comments!

Troy Seeling is a 1st degree black belt and instructor in Tae Kwon Do, with 5 years experience in Boxing and a two-year white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Troy also instructs a strength and fitness class, and helps to manage his families' dojo, North Texas Karate Academy  In his spare time, he enjoys trying different forms of physical fitness, including Olympic weight lifting and distance running. He also enjoys film photography with antique cameras.  You can contact Troy at troyseeling@aol.com.

Ed note: Opinions in "Troy-Kwon-Do" posts are those of Troy Seeling, and I don't always agree. Every time you invoke Bruce Lee, an angel loses its wings.  -The Stick Chick

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