One of the greatest challenges in martial arts is overcoming the impulse to use upper body strength to make things work. This is true for all martial arts techniques.
Particularly in Western culture, we’re conditioned to think that upper body strength equals masculinity. Ask someone to “make a muscle” and they’ll flex their biceps, or their “guns” as they’re called. Broad shoulders, big chest, wide back – we admire these in men. So it’s natural to want to use those muscles to power your punches, or to make your joint locks work, or to throw someone to the ground.
The problem with this approach is that it’s completely wrong. It may be effective to a point, but it’s an inefficient way of generating power, it’s tiring, and it only works on people who are physically smaller or weaker than you.
Much more power can be generated – and with far less effort – by turning the hips, dropping your body weight a little, and shifting weight from one foot to the other. We should constantly be working on eliminating muscle strength from the equation. Body mechanics are the key.
It’s no accident that many of the greatest martial artists and fighters had lean, even slight figures. They were strong but not bulky. Bruce Lee is a case in point, but one might also look to modern MMA champions, most of whom have established themselves through superior technique and body mechanics, not muscle mass.
Wael Abdelgawad, Founder