3 Lessons in Martial Art to Enhance Fighting
During my training in the art of Jeet Kune Do, I learned some valuable lessons to enhance my fighting skills.
These lessons are the principles which I would have told myself years ago, lessons which are not easily grasped the first time around.
If you are looking to enhance your fighting, there are important things to know as a martial artist or to learn self-defense.
Important Quality for a Martial Artist
The first and most important quality for a martial artist is that he/she can fight and defend himself/herself.
While you can appreciate the poetic movements, the health, discipline and the culture of various martial art, the main ingredient is in learning how to fight. Everything else is a side-effect of martial art.
For example, you can appreciate the health and fitness aspect of martial art. But if you train for martial art just for health and fitness, then you will get neither.
Poetic movements like in Tai Chi Chuan is good for health but the martial artists who employ Tai Chi as a fighting style will not be moving gentle and slow. Shaolin Kung Fu is quite showy and flowery but in battle it will be fast, powerful, and fluid.
So that begs the question, “What makes a great fighter?”
Other than noble morals, spiritual expression and discipline, a great fighter is one who can land a powerful hit but at the same time not get hit.
Thus, strength and speed is one of the core elements of a martial artist.
Here are 3 lessons I learned in martial art to enhance your fighting mechanics.
1. The strength is not in the punch
I used to think that the power in the punches comes from tensing up my arms. Many beginners made the same mistakes.
When you tense up your arms, fists, or legs, you only make yourself slower. It also give potential danger in getting your wrist broken.
You already have the strength. If you workout, you have already built the strength in your arms, fist, and legs.
Does it not surprise one to know that a woman who doesn’t have big muscles can have incredible strength in combat?
Strength arrives before the match. You don’t need to bring it out in a match.
So where does the strength come from?
Strength comes from the force in how you execute your punch.
Force = Mass x Acceleration
Physics tell us that force comes from the mass and momentum.
This is why heavy-weight fighters can uses less effort in their punches.
But you don’t need to gain large muscles and a big body. If you channel the weight of the whole body, your hit can do as much damage as a heavy-weight fighter.
Then all you need to do is use momentum to create the impact.
It is just like dropping a brick from a tall building.
One would think the brick will fall down at a constant speed. In reality, the brick will fall with each increasing speed until it hits the floor. By the time it reaches the floor, it is about 10x faster than when it started. This means that it is also 10x stronger on impact.
Had it fell at a constant speed, the brick would not break. But because the momentum accelerates its speed, the impact is much greater and causes the brick to break.
So it is the same in your punches.
Momentum creates the strength with whatever inner strength you’ve already developed in training.
2. Speed comes from relaxation
While strength comes from speed, speed follows from relaxation.
Many boxers will understand that velocity in the punch is generated by rotating the upper body forward. This whips the arm forward to increase the power.
But an important addition to whipping the arm is to keep your arm relaxed and flexible.
Tense muscles causes you to move slower because it would contract the muscles. It also wastes a ton of energy.
If you want to move faster, your arms and legs should swing like paperweight. You would only need to tense the fist/leg at the moment of impact.
The whipping of the arms should look like a frog catching a fly. But the impact with the fist is like a blast from a shotgun.
3. Mind is more important than strength and speed
Many times you will see a learned martial artist enter the ring and then forgetting everything they learned.
They end up performing street fight of the most animalistic bout. All forms and techniques goes out the window.
What is the point of learning any martial art if we throw them out in a real-life situation?
This is what happened – the subconscious mind senses the dangerous situation and goes into fight/flight mechanism. When one enters this state of mind, they cannot logically assess the situation and reacts like an animal.
You can have great strength and speed but if you cannot control them, it is a waste. That is why learning to control the mind is important for a martial artist.
“Empty your mind, Be formless. Shapeless, like water.” – Bruce Lee
When you are facing a challenger, you don’t want to be thinking about what moves you are going to make or whether you are doing the moves correctly. Your arms should move by itself. All you are doing is responding to the movements of the other.
Mind training, or meditation, is an essential factor.
Half of your session is in training/sparring while the other half is in meditating.
This is the difference between knowing how to fight and knowing how to control a fight before it launches.
When you train the mind to be still, then you can get control of the basic instincts during a dangerous situation. Emotions won’t cloud your mind and your will overcomes your fear.
Once we are able to do that, then all the martial art training can have some worthy use.