Bend Your Knees

Ronda Rousey training Ronda Rousey, UFC women's champion, training on the beach.

If there is one piece of advice I could give to beginners and make it stick, it would be to bend your knees. When? Always! And I’ll tell you why.

* Fighting stance – Keeping a slight bend in your knees makes you more mobile and prevents your knees from getting locked out and hyper-extended by low kicks. It also minimizes your target profile, making you harder to hit, and your lower center of gravity makes it harder for your opponent to throw you.

* Moving – most of us rise up and down when we walk. From a martial perspective, that is inefficient. In martial movement we keep the head constantly level and put our energy into forward / sideways / backward motion. This requires keeping a slight bend in the knees.

* Striking – Throwing a strike with bent knees keeps you stable and allows you to use your powerful leg muscles to drive the strike. This is especially true for hooks and uppercuts.

* Kicking – Keeping the standing leg slightly bent gives you stability and allows you to project your hip into the kick.

* Throwing – Throws like the hip throw and shoulder throw only work if you get your center of gravity below your attacker’s. This requires bending the knees deeply to get low.

* Locking – Most joint locks become tighter and much more painful when you drop your weight slightly. The idea is that you apply some body weight to the lock. You do this by bending your knees, and sometimes rotating the hips slightly to direct the lock.

Can you think of any more reasons to keep your knees bent?

Wael Abdelgawad
Hammerhead Hapkido

(Image: Ronda Rousey, UFC women’s champion, training on the beach.)

1 Comment

  1. I should add that even advanced students need to be reminded of this sometimes.

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