I’m glad to announce that my new instructional video “POWER CONTROL: Increase the Power and Effectiveness of Striking Techniques” just became available for sale. I’ll give you the details on where to get it and the cool bonus discount first and then talk a bit about the video itself.
So, first things first:
You can get the video exclusively at Paladin Press right here. If you want to see a preview, check out these two clips
But there’s more:
From now on until December 31st 2013 you get a 25% discount on all my titles (except POWER CONTROL). You can see a list of all of them here. Just enter the code WIM25 on check out to receive the discount.
Also, all my videos are available as digital download on the Paladin Press site. Just click on “To download” on the product page for more information.
That’s it for the practical stuff.
Here’s some background on this video.
Acceleration and deceleration
There’s this weird disconnect in martial arts and self-defense training. Most practitioners spend the vast majority of their time getting stronger, faster and more explosive. They focus on accelerating their body and limbs. I agree that this is important, you need it. Nobody in his right mind would deny that. Mass x acceleration and all that. But I believe this is only half the equation:
Just as you want to be as explosive as possible, you also want to be able to control that explosive power in your punches, kicks, throws and take downs. For some reason, those same practitioners who agree that power is essential don’t spend an equal amount of training on controlling all that power. As a result, the stronger they get, the more of their power gets wasted away because it spills all over the place instead of being focused within a technique.
Can you still hurt an attacker or opponent with less than perfect control?
Yes, you can.
Is it the most effective way of striking?
No, it isn’t. Pissing away power because you lack control is a poor way of striking.
Who cares? As long as you land the strike, right?
Sure, if you land with a less than optimal strike, it can still do the damage it needs to end the fight. But what if it doesn’t end it right away? Then you have to do another technique, perhaps even several more. When you lack control, flowing rapidly from one technique to the next (especially when you miss with one) becomes difficult and time-consuming. Don’t forget that in a fight, time is measured in fractions of seconds. Anything you do that costs you more time can come back to bite you in the ass.
In Chinese martial arts, this concept is made clear by the comparison of the terms “Li” and “Jin”. A rough translation for the former would be “brute strength” and for the latter “trained strength.”
Doing a biceps curl with a heavy weight is Li. Doing an uppercut with perfect body mechanics is Jin. In both movements, your fist comes up. In the first, the biceps is doing all of the work. In the second, your whole body is used to deliver power, timing the actions of muscles and joints in a specific sequence so you create a kinetic chain in which each component amplifies the power generated by the others. As a result, the whole is much more than the sum of each individual part.
Making those parts move in sequence requires you to have a high degree of control over each individual part. That’s the first level. The higher that control, the less energy will bleed off when performing the technique. Controlling all those parts at the same time is the next level. Controlling your entire body as it performs several movements all at once in any given direction, that’s the skill you’re looking for. It’s what distinguishes the good from the great fighters.
Getting to that skill level is not about becoming more explosive. Most people are more than able to generate sufficient power in their techniques. Instead, it’s about not letting any of the generated power slip away. It’s about not letting your punch or kick travel further than it needs to. In other words, nothing in your movements should happen by accident, you should control everything.
What is the key component of this sort of control?
Your ability to slow down movements.
The better you can slow down your punch or kick when it moves at full speed and power, the more control you have over it. Here’s the thing though: just as you try to accelerate in an explosive manner in a technique, deceleration should be just as fast. The trick is going from movement to full stop in the shortest amount of time. This requires a different kind of training than what you do for strength, power or speed.
The issue of acyclic movement
One way of categorizing sports or activities is by the type of movements you do when engaging in them. I’ll keep it simple and only talk about two of them, cyclic and acyclic.
Cyclic sports are running, cycling, rowing, etc. You repeat the same movement over and over. You create momentum and then try to keep speeding up as much as possible or maintain a certain pace for as long as possible.
Acyclic sports are martial arts, wrestling, football, basketball, etc. You do many different movements, change direction often and quickly, speed up and slow down, have an opponent actively working against you, etc. It doesn’t matter if you train for self-defense or for combat sports, your movements do not resemble those of cyclic sports. So your training requirements are different too. You cannot train like for a cyclic sport and expect to perform well in an acyclic sport. This is not new information either, by the way. Sports scientists have known this for decades. But for reasons I truly do not understand, this type of training is so often very much lacking in martial arts and combat sports. Yet it is crucial in reaching your peak potential.
To train this skill (and it is a skill) you need to teach your body to both generate explosive power and control it at the same time. Meaning, the harder you punch, kick or throw, the more you need to practice controlling it.
The drills and exercises I use for this for my own training and for my students and clients are on this video. Some of the concepts they teach are:
- Agonist-antagonist movement patterns. The biceps bends the elbow, the triceps extends it. Your whole body has similar opposing forces built into it and the drills teach you how to coordinate them better.
- Absorbing vs. resisting. If you are grappling and your opponent pushes you, you can do two things if your goal is to stay put: resist or absorb that push. When you resist, you are going against this force and this costs you a lot of energy. It can also be used against you. When you absorb his push, he’s doing all the work and you are in a position to exploit it.
- Action-reaction. You can’t change the laws of physics. Newton’s third Law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The harder you hit, the more force goes back into your arm or leg when you punch and kick. So you have to learn how to absorb that energy instead of resiting it, just as with the opponent in the previous concept.
- Instant deceleration. Your techniques have to stop where you want them to stop, not an inch or two further. The better your ability to decelerate (without losing power as you land that shot), the more control you have over it. You will also be faster, hit harder and make faster combinations.
- Instant direction change. Deceleration is key, but it isn’t enough. The next step is stopping on a dime and instantly changing direction. Control means you can move freely in any direction at top speed and power.
- Fluid direction change. Not every technique is linear, nor does it always follow a predictable trajectory. That’s why some of the drills and exercises focus on moving in a fluid manner so you learn how to move in whatever way a situation dictates.
- Dynamic balance, the right way. Fighting is chaotic and messy. It’s always a challenge to stay balanced under the adrenal stress of the moment. But that doesn’t mean you should accept crappy technique. It is possible to move in a dynamic manner while still retaining control over your techniques. But it takes specific, focused practice. Some of the drills cover precisely that.
These concepts are why a lot of heavy lifting and other conditioning exercises don’t focus on the control part. They typically don’t address the control portion in a fashion that relates to the acyclic nature of fighting. It takes specific drills, exercises and most importantly, a conscious mental effort to increase your control to the levels I’m talking about.
It’s OK if you never reach perfect control, we’re only human. But it is a mistake to not spend as much energy on this as you do on getting stronger and faster. If you only focus on power, then you’re only getting a bigger caliber firearm. That doesn’t make you a better shot. Practicing your shooting technique does that.
If you need another analogy: you’re only getting a faster car with a bigger engine but that doesn’t make you a better driver. Working on driving technique does that.
In other words, power and control need to go together for optimal results. The only logical conclusion is that you need to train for control just as much as you do for power.
With POWER CONTROL, my goal is to provide you with tools that I know can help you with this. I’ve used them myself for so long and have taught many others, always with good progress as a result. So I hope you find value in this video for your own training.
But most of all, enjoy the training sessions. They can be challenging at first as some of the exercises will be unfamiliar to you, but it’s all worth it in the end.
Have fun with it!
For some additional information, this is the content of the two DVD discs, coming in at about 210min. of content in total.
1) Upper Body
– Traditional Push-Up
– Push-Up Crawl
– Failure Drills
– 3D Push-Ups
– Hook Demo
– Parry Demo
– Five Palms Demo
– Clinch Demo
– Hanging Cable Row
– Pull Demo
– Hanging Bar Row
– Back-Sweep Demo
2) Lower Body
– Open and Close Hip
– Horse Stance
– Push Demo
– Pull Demo
– Transfer Weight Demo
– Absorbing Energy Demo
– Superman Progressions
– Clumsy Superman
– Superman Lift-Off
– Superman Barrel-Roll
– Superman Float-and-Turn
– Push and Back-Sweep Demo
– Side-Kick Demo
– Hip Throw Demo
– Absorbing Kicks
– Stationary Kicking
– Machine Gun Kicking
– Kicks Demo
3) Upper and Lower Body
– Opening and Closing Rotation
– Five Palms Demo
– Spear Training
– Progression Exercises
– Fighting Stance
– Freestyle Applications
– Connect and Disconnect
– Hanging Strikes
5) Bonus Material
– Composite Material Pole Training
Lots of content there, no filler or fluff.