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  • Writer's pictureJackie Bradbury

More on Strike Mechanics

Let's get NERDY WITH IT!

One of the tougher things to communicate to students are the fine details of strike mechanics.

I wrote about some of the ways we do it in "Little Details: Strike Mechanics" and in "Four Hand" but there's a little more I wanted to talk about to fine tune this stuff. Go read those real quick.

I'll wait.

Okay, so, now, you know that I use the cue "FOUR hand" and "FOUR fingers" to help cue forehand and backhand strikes, and we talk about proper angling and targeting when striking, too.

So here's some more thoughts on those fine details and how to teach it to students. This is for NEWBIES, mind you, and getting certain core habits ingrained. There are times, later and at a higher level, where we'll "break" these "rules" because reasons that are too complex to go into right now.

Note - we call the butt end of the stick 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.

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.

This is that "fisherman's cast" or, as we say to the kiddos, "waving your wand like you're Harry Potter".

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.

To illustrate the point, let's consider the #1 strike. Here's images from this AWESOME WEBSITE:

Click on that link above to see the source.

This strike (the left hand in the pic) is very, very close to the chamber for our number one strike (high forehand to the head. It's not perfectly identical, but close enough to recognize it as that #1 strike.

This is also a perfect illustration of the Modern Arnis maxim, "The Art within your Art". You already know a lot of what we do... you just don't know that you know it.

One final cue that I've found VERY useful - 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!

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