The martial arts and specifically for our purposes, combat are all about efficiency in movement and thought. The rule in efficiency is that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line and we must bear this in mind in combat as shortest could mean fastest and fastest is often the winner.
We are physical beings and our bodies move in a limited range of movement and we have limited strength and energy. We must therefore maximise what we can do with these limitations to get the most out of any action we take to defend ourselves.
To get the most out of our actions we must know the difference between efficient and inefficient action which is provided below in a simple hierarchy of prioritised movement.
- Speed is more important than power
- Leading with the left is more useful than leading with the right
- The hand is faster than the foot
- The lead side is faster than the rear
- The open hand is faster than the fist
By focusing your martial arts training on these 5 key concepts you will increase your efficiency in physical movement. As simple as these rules are they are crucial to understanding the principles of biomechanics (the study of body movement) and martial arts at its most basic physical level is simply efficient use of our bodies.
These 5 keys should be the basis of your combat strategy and by knowing instinctively which technique to use first, which is achieved through massive repetition, we give ourselves the advantage in every situation.
Aim to be fastest in striking and manoeuvring, be hard to hit, always hit first where possible and hit fast. Remember that surprise is a great strategy and that speed creates surprise and power in your strikes.
Most people attack with their right because they are right handed. A jab is faster than a cross so set intercept his right with your left for example. The hand is faster than the foot, so which will you throw first? If you hit your opponent well with a hand strike he will be more vulnerable to a powerful kick afterwards, but don’t throw the kick if you could deliver a better punch or you’ll lose your advantage. The lead side is faster than the rear side, it’s also easier to avoid telegraphing a jab than it is a cross. Remember, the less time your opponent has to respond, the better and the jab gives him less time than does the cross despite the cross being more powerful if it lands. If it fails to land then it’s no good at all. Only throw the cross (or a kick) when it has been well set up by a left. Remember too that kicks take more energy to throw than punches so you could tire yourself out sooner. You don’t want to lose because you’re tired so conserve your energy and only use the big guns when you can’t miss or fail. The open hand is faster than the closed hand because it has less tension in it which will slow you down. Also the open hand has longer reach than the closed fist so not only are you faster, you are also further away from danger. Also remember to throw open hands at soft targets. Don’t hit him in the skull with a palm as you could hurt your hand, instead slap his face, and flick at his eyes. Either way he will respond and if you can only get him to move his head backwards out of the way or blink, during that time he is not attacking you and is susceptible to attack.
The law of priority says ‘put first things first’ and that means using your body, strategies and techniques in the best way possible. When you can do this you make every technique more effective which means you are in less danger of harm in a dangerous situation.
Keep studying and keep practicing.