Guidelines for Physical Development for Martial Artists – Part 2

The Ten Shin Ho Kwan Guidelines for Physical Development (Part 2)

  1. Respiration.
  2. Verbal Expression of Exhalation.
  3. Purposeful gaze.
  4. Correct alignment of back and neck vertebrae resulting in proper balance.
  5. Optimization of power achieved through correct hip motion.
  6. Structural integrity of stances.
  7. Interconnectedness and coordination of entire body.
  8. Spatial awareness.
  9. Proper alignment of the tailbone in relation to stance.
  10. Connectedness to ground.

In last week’s post I started to talk about the first five of the Shin Ho Kwan’s guidelines of physical development and I will finish the remaining five in this post.

6. Structural integrity of stances.

The structure of a student’s stance is often neglected while focus is placed on other parts of a technique.  The importance of a correct stance can not be overstated.  With a structurally correct stance there is more power in a technique, greater rootedness to the ground, greater balance, greater connectiveness between body parts and greater mobility.  Once a stance’s structure has been compromised, balance is lost, a practitioner is easily pushed over due to a lack of rootedness, the transition time into the next stance is increased and power is diminished.  I can say for certain that everyone reading this (including myself) should spend more time on stance structure.  In a future post I will go through at least the color belt stances and discuss the finer points of how to make them structurally sound.

7. Interconnectedness and coordination of entire body.

In a lot of ways this guideline is very similar to the previous guideline.  However, whereas guideline 6 is concerned about the static structure of the practitioner’s body, this guideline focuses on the moving “structure” of the body.  In other words, the efficiency of the pieces of the body while the entire body is in motion.  As color belts, students’ bodies tend to work against themselves.  A student’s hip might be moving clockwise when in reality it should be moving in just the opposite direction to interconnectively maintain moving structure and thereby increasing the coordination of the entire body.  With practice and guidance from a knowledgable instructor, a student’s moving structure will gradually improve.  That is why you see older masters being able to do physical techniques with a greater outcomes than a younger students.  The younger students are stronger and more flexible but due to a lack of moving structure their bodies are not able to be as efficient as the older masters and therefore are not able to generate the same outcomes.

8. Spatial awareness.

Knowing exactly where different parts of your body are in relation to each other and where your body is relative to another person or inanimate object is very important.  Imagine if you were attacked and went to block only to find out that you missed blocking the attacking limb.  That mistake could cause you your life.  Or, what if you were in a situation where you were required to defend yourself.  You decided that you needed more space between yourself and your opponent, so you quickly moved backwards only to feel your head impact with a brick wall that was immediately behind you.  Or, what if you are blocking with one arm and executing a strike with the other arm simultaneously.  As both techniques are traveling toward the opponent, they hit each other because of a lack of spatial awareness, now the block didn’t work and there was no strike.  Increase is spatial awareness comes with time.  It has been my experience that no matter how many or how few drills are practiced in an attempt to improve this ability, that the increase is dictated by the passage of time.

9. Proper alignment of the tailbone in relation to stance.

Believe it or not, the tailbone’s alignment is a very important element of a correct executed stance.  The general rule of thumb is that it should be pointed at a spot on the ground that is on the line that connects the practitioner’s two feet.  Its location on the line is determined by the ratio of weight on the practitioner’s feet.  For example, if each foot had 50% of the weight then the tailbone should be pointing to a spot on that line that is half way between the two feet.  If on the other hand, 10% of the weight is on the front foot and 90% is on the back foot, the tailbone should be pointing at a spot on the line that is 10% of the distance of the line in front of the back foot.  There are exceptions to this rule.  With proper alignment of the tailbone, balance is increased tremendously.

10. Connectedness to ground.

Being “rooted” or connected to the ground will provide a practitioner with greater power in his/her technique and will substantially increase the ability to defend against an attacker’s throwing technique.  This is easily observed when watching a small/younger student executing a jump side kick on a very heavy bag.  When the student kicks, the bag doesn’t move but the student goes flying back in the direction they came from.  If, however, that same student executed a standing side kick on the heavy bag, the bag would move because the student’s non-kicking leg was firmly rooted to the ground (if the technique was executed correctly).  There was no root with the jump kick but there was with the standing kick.  Same student, same technique, drastically different outcomes.  Pay close attention to any weak points in the rooted foot/feet when executing a kick, strike or block.  If they fail to maintain the root it will be blatantly obvious.

Something to think about…

by Master Sean Pearson

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