Monday, May 30, 2011

A Universe Filled with Motion

We speak of "linear" and "circular" strikes in kenpo. A front kick or a straight punch are "linear" strikes. A wheel kick or backknuckle are "circular" strikes. But even “linear" strikes are, in truth, circular paths of motion. The circles may be elongated, but due to the inherent shape of the human body, the weapons still rotate around a central axis in order to strike. So for instance, while a side thrust kick would be considered a "linear" technique, in order to execute that kick the leg must be rotated within the hip socket and the path of the foot from point of origin to point of execution will create an arc.

But even understanding that for the purpose of training we still delineate techniques into "linear" and "circular.” And we describe those paths with the Universal Symbols.

There are many versions of this image, but this one will suffice for this discussion.

Within the universal symbol we can see many instances where "circular" lines become "linear" and vice versa. We can imagine, for instance, an outward extended block could become an inward handsword strike such as in the technique Sword of Destruction. In that case, the path would look like this.

However, if you could turn that two dimensional image into a three dimensional one, you would see that image like this,

I took that image from Michael Billing's Kenpo Karate site, and he got it from Jeff Brady's New Mexico Tiger Dragon Kenpo Karate Site.

When viewed in three dimensions you can see that what was previously thought of as a "linear" movement, is in fact only linear from a limited perspective. In truth, while the hand may follow a linear path of motion from point of origin to point of execution, the arm rotates around the joint, which is attached to the core which rotates around the body's center, resulting in a complex interconnectedness of linear and circular movements.

So, while some techniques appear linear in execution, the structure of the body requires that they incorporate circular motion for execution.

Articulation of the body occurs at joints where two or more bones meet. Depending on which parts of the body are being articulated, different types of joints allow for different ranges of motion. While some of these joints allow for little or no articulation, others allow for a great deal of movement.

Amongst those that allow for the least range of motion are the synovial joints, like those which attach the individual pieces of the skull to one another. For our purposes, these joints allow for such limited articulation as to be unimportant to our discussion of motion, though understanding them has value when discussing targets. Amongst those which allow the greatest range of motion are the ball and socket type joints, like in the hips. While those joints allow for a greater range of motion, in a greater number of possible directions, they are still limited in many ways, and do not allow for infinite motion.

A great number of other factors, including the length of the bone and muscle fibers, and muscle strength, determine the range of articulation, but ultimately, while the movement of the individual parts of the body can be explored infinitely and categorized limitlessly, that motion itself is limited and finite.

So, when discussing how the relationships of circles incorporate "linear" techniques, we can take two divergent approaches. We can either say that the "linear" techniques run parallel and perpendicular to the circles in the techniques, which is akin to looking at the universal symbol in two dimensions, or we can acknowledge that "linear" techniques are in fact simply less obvious circular motions, which is akin to looking at the universal symbol in three dimensions.

Understanding both is important to the overall goal of understanding motion as it applies to self defense. When defending or attacking, the student should recognize that more linear or more circular paths of motion have benefits according to the specific context of the situation, for instance, linear motions may be faster or harder for the opponent to identify, while circular motions may be more powerful, more fluid, or circumvent the opponent's defenses. At the same time, the student should understand that "linear" and "circular" are artificial categorizations, and that his applications of motion incorporate circular movements, both in the path the weapon moves through and the way in which that weapon moves in relation to the body, ie. the articulation of the joints, and that his, and his opponent's weapons both have capabilities and limitations which must be considered, and can be exploited.

Drills -
Beginner: Identify each of your basics on your belt charts as either "linear" or "circular." Practice these basics on pads, paying special attention to the path of execution of each basic.

Intermediate: While sparring, Student A only uses "linear" techniques. Student B only uses "circular" techniques. Alternate.

Advanced: Student A faces 12 o'clock while Students B and C circle Student A. Students B and C may attack with single strikes any time they are standing between 9 and 3 o'clock relative to Student A. Student A defends and may attack Students B and C at any place on the circle, using "linear" and "circular" strikes according to their relative positions.

Ground Fighting: Student A on their back, Student B rotates through nine positions. Mount, Side Mount, Reverse Scarf, Scarf, North South, Reverse Scarf, Scarf, Side Mount, Mount. At each position, both Students pause to identify possible striking opportunities. Alternate. Increase intensity and introduce spontaneity.

No comments:

Post a Comment