Wednesday, July 22, 2015

More on Strike Mechanics

Let's get NERDY WITH IT!

Awwwww yiiisssss.

So, both at Mid-Cities Arnis and at Hidden Sword, we have new students.  We've been working on Modern Arnis 12 Angles of Attack (below) and some basic striking and pokes.  I believe in getting this right early, so we don't have to overcome bad habits later, so we spend a lot of time here in the white band level getting the little details straight.



Having different students with different natural levels of ability helps you really think hard about the process of striking and poking.  Because different students learn different ways, you have to combine little coaching cues - auditory, visual, and written - to help students fine-tune the technique.

I mentioned this briefly before in my post FOUR HAND  about some cues I use to forehand and backhand strike - "FORE Hand", "BACK hand" and "FOUR FINGERS!"

Here's a few more.

(Note - the butt end of the stick we call a "punyo")

When striking, the punyo leads the way to the target.  That is, the butt end of the stick "arrives" before the tip does.  I do not mean that this is a punyo STRIKE - the tip doesn't "arrive" in one of those at all.  I mean that in space, the punyo will arrive and then pass *through* your target area (but out of range), then the tip comes around and actually HITS the target.

You can see the punyo leading in the image marked #1, #2, #3, #4, #8, #9 and #12 above.

If your tip passes through the target before the punyo does, then the tip is leading. This is critical to get right - if the tip leads the way on a strike, you end up not engaging all of the muscles of the arm.  This is a very weak strike.

So if you see the tip arrive before the punyo goes through the target - fix that before it gets ingrained as habit.

Another issue, often related to the "tip lead" problem, is breaking the wrist and locking the elbow.

This is extremely common - heck, I had to break this habit myself!  I think it partly comes from not having the world's best handle on range.  If you "break" your wrist, you actually gain a couple of inches.  Which is fine, but you drain all the power out of the strike. Since we are not dealing with lightsabers here, taking the power out of the strike just as it arrives is going to make your strike far less effective than it could be.

You can tell if you are "breaking the wrist" by watching your strike in the mirror. If the punyo is hidden by your stick hand, you've "broken your wrist".  You should be able to see the punyo.

Inevitably, if you "break your wrist", you tend to lock your elbow in place.  Do that, and you risk hyper-extending your elbow.  If you've ever done that... well, you won't do it twice voluntarily.  It hurts a lot. Plus, we never lock our elbows or our knees (hard to flow with locked joints).

Another cool tip comes from my teacher Mark Lynn.  He showed us the connection between empty hand (in his case tae kwon do) martial arts and Arnis - it's really awesome to use with students who are very familiar with empty hand arts that have these blocks/strikes.

The high forehand strike (#1) is nearly identical to the movement called the outside-inside or the outside forearm block in empty hand arts - including the chamber.  The low backhand strike (#8) is the same (basic) thing as a down block or down strike.

Here's some images from this awesome site - and look what he is doing.

Here's a "chamber" for a #1 strike:



And here's the strike:


Watch this video, and you'll see the #1 strike in the "Soto Uke" and you'll see the #8 strike in "Gedan Barai".

Click here if you can't see the video.

Now, it's not a perfect analog, but it's close enough that empty-hand martial artists taking up the sticks catch on very quickly to the mechanic when you explain it this way, especially in reminders to chamber.


One final note - on the forehand strikes, the palm is up. On backhands, the palm is down.  Coaching "palm up!" or "palm down!" seems to be very effective as a coaching cue.

That's enough geekery for today.  Rest assured, I'll find an excuse to nerd out on you another time.

Do you have any cool tips about the way you coach people to strike in YOUR art?  I'd love to know!