What You Don't Know...Can Hurt You
Have you watched all those videos on the internet, you know, the ones with martial artists demonstrating these incredible skills, powers, and otherwise unreal abilities?
How about just the ones that are showing you how to box or to kick or to use a knife?
Do they really know what they are doing? And how would you know?
I know there are a lot of people out there claiming to be experts in this or that, when all they really are is experts in doing exactly what their instructors told them to do—which is what their instructors told them to do and their instructors before them and on and on.
I understand honoring tradition and ego, but who honors truth?
In The Real World, Physics Doesn't Lie
Why do so many different people have so many different ways of training?
Here are some reasons:
- Ego. It's a big reason, and it gets in the way of truth. I'm not referring to a healthy ego, but egotism.
- Charisma. The ability to influence. This can undermine our intelligence.
- Laziness. Because human beings prefer that little magic pill (or technique) instead of actually breaking a sweat through the effort of exercise.
- Lack of knowledge.
- Misunderstanding of truth.
I am often astounded seeing other people interpret physics inaccurately. There is often a desire to “bend” the physics of a situation to accommodate a particular technique favored by the instructor or student.
Truth doesn’t bend.
The physics of a body with four limbs, having a range of mobility and specific energy consumption, does not change because a person desires it.
A simple example is:
A straight punch down someone's centerline will always be faster than a hooking punch.
- There is more muscle recruitment for the hook. More muscles involved for any action = less efficiency. More energy reserves are tapped for the effort. More effort is required for the movement.
- A straight punch's momentum is carried more efficiently toward its intended target. A hook's force is reduced during the arc of its path. For the same effort, the opponent will feel more energy transfer into their body from a straight punch than a hook.
Some human beings are capable of great extremes above the norm. But even they must function within the limits of the effects of light and gravity, inertia, momentum, force and acceleration, surface tension, leverage principles, etc.
The Terrible Truth of Laziness
I once watched an instructor define a Muay Thai, rear round kick for a student.
This particular kick was of his own invention.
He detailed that one should keep the supporting leg completely still and use the "springiness of the tendons" in the support knee to help the student rebound from the kick after firing it.
This person had no understanding of the amount of stress the tendons and their muscle connections were under during that repeated motion.
Tendons aren’t springs. They are dense, connective tissue with little flexibility and blood flow that help connect a muscle to bone. They provide a structure for the muscle attachment.
The instructor I mention fell into a trap most other people do: laziness.
When first learning and ingraining a proper Thai kick, it requires more effort to step into the line of attack, rotate on the ball of the foot, bend the knee slightly, and fire the kick. You have to work balance and adaptive mobility.
But the positive side of this effort is that you’re less likely to blow out your knee using the proper method during the stress of a real fight.
You will have far more power and penetration into—and through—the target.
A Fine Line
There is a fine line between laziness and efficiency. Human beings tend toward efficient laziness:
Least effort for the least work. It's the couch potato’s mantra.
One of the things I stress to students is that the most difficult part of training is getting out of the bed, off the couch, out of the house.
Everything after that is far less work.
Being at your optimum requires work.
Your honest self-expression requires work to refine.
Efficiency will help you do less work, but the other side of the coin is that it will also help you do more work longer.
That’s the truth.