HWA RANG DO INSTRUCTORS MANUAL
THE UNIFYING PRINCIPLES OF POWER
The development of the Eight Principles of Power Kicking was a result of synthesizing concepts taught to me by Joo Sang Lee starting in 1968, and my own experience in the mid 70's. In the late 70's, I felt compelled to define the mechanics of full force, thrust kicking techniques in a way that could be taught according to a Western rationalist methodology.
It was my intention to demystify the question of power, rationalize these concepts in plain English in order to simplify the teaching of basic building blocks of thrust kicking and thereby accelerate the learning process. The mechanics of any kick is made up of many discreet movements that contribute to a simple kicking motion. The kick is either designed to attain Thrust or Snap. The underlying principle of the Thrust Kick is quite distinct from a Snap Kick. The emphasis here is on the building blocks of a Thrust Kick.
The focus here is on principle mechanics of power because the concept can be applied to a broad base of applications whether they apply to kicking, punching or joint locks. The underlying assumption is that principle is the basis of the Art, not technique, since no matter how many variations on a technique one can invent, what counts is whether the principle behind it is sound, and results in the delivery of power to the target.
The emphasis for the beginning martial artists should be the development of Power Kicking since this is the basic building block. White Belts should learn thrust kicking from the very beginning in the form of the Front Thrust Kick and the Round House Thrust Kick during the kicking set. Snap kicking is taught from the T-Stance.
THE EXTERNAL PRINCIPLES OF POWER KICKING
1. THE COIL, EXTENSION AND RETRACTION
The Coil is essential to the Thrust Kick since it contracts the hams and quads for a complete extension. It is the only way one can make full use of the largest set of muscles in the body. When the knee is fully developed (i.e. Half-Black Belt or higher) the coil can be executed with a drop of the body weight into the ground and an explosive push-off the ground rather than the simple pick-up into the coil. Remember that such kicks place a great strain on the joint when done in the air and therefore should be done rarely in the air. Use a bag to absorb the shock. Tendons and ligaments take much longer to strengthen than muscles, so considerable care must be taken when executing any power kick.
The Coil, Extension and Retraction is simply to emphasize that the kick should initiate from a fully coiled position in order to achieve the maximum muscle contraction-extension of the hams and quads in the leg. A simple concept, but often ignored for example, when the kick rises from the floor directly to the target. While there may exist good tactical reasons for such kicks, they do not qualify as Power Kick.
2. THE COUNTER MOTION
The Counter-Motion contracts on the same plane and cadence as the kick. The kick is executed with a full push through the Center Axis with the rear foot still pushing. The rear foot heel should drag forward until it is nearly parallel with the toes. This allows the foot to maintain floor contact while it pushes. (This photograph is taken instantly prior to extension, and therefore the leg is not fully extended and the Counter-Motion is not retracted into a full chamber.) The Left hand is open, in front of the body, looking for something to block or grab.
The Counter-Motion is perhaps the most basic element to the Thrust Kick. It is the oldest motor function that one learns from toddler stage through the balance of life. It is a swing or thrust of the arm to the rear in perfect cadence opposite to the kick. All linear kicks: Front Thrust, Round House Thrust, Side Thrust, and Rear Thrust kicks should be executed with a counter motion.
The purpose of the Counter-Motion is to snap the hips forward and thereby shift body weight into the target. In the beginning stages of learning the Counter-Motion, the student should swing the whole arm in a full swing much like a hurdler jumping...as the leg is fully extended, the arm is on the same plane swinging backwards.
Once the Kick and the Counter-Motion are in synchronous coordination, the swing should be shorten so that the arm chambers as it counters the motion of the kick.
3. POWER FLOWS THROUGH THE JOINTS WITH A SHUDDER
The key element to Power Kicking is the shift of bvody weight into a target mass. The shift occurs as the hip is catapulted through the Center Axis. At impact, the weight is thrown down the leg. The weak link is the knee joint. The joint must lock long enough for a full shift of weight into the target. As this occurs, the Counter-Motion will cause a Shudder of the hip. The Counter Motion will transmit power down the bones, through the knee and into the targe t.
There are two components to this principle:
The principle of the Shudder is applied to all power movements like the Kick, Punch and the Throw. The Shudder transfers power from the floor, through the hips into the fleshy mass of the target; the goal is to vibrate a shock wave through the target. Instructors should consider weight training to develop the strength of the knee; this should accelerate the process of strengthening the knee to the point that it withstands the shock of the impact of a full weight shift.
4. RELAXATION AS THE BASIS OF SPEED AND KI POWER
Relaxation is the basis of speed. The concept rest upon the notion that a relaxed muscle will fire faster than a tense one. The concept also is the basis for heavy punching....The Hit and Stick principle of leaving the punch or kick in the target until the energy is dissipated.
5. THE STRESS REFLEX TO SET THE RELEASE
The principle of the Stress-Reflex applies to three kicks: The Round House, The Hook and the Rear Spin Kick. It requires that the upper body press towards the knee, creating a tension between upper and lower body. The tension is released in the execution of the kick. You are looking for opposite rotation between the upper and lower body.
6. THE CENTER AS CATAPULT
The Center as Catapult refers to the hips as the Sling. It requires that the hip snaps through the Center Axis line, throwing the weight beyond the Center Axis. The result is to sling the foot through the intended target zone; if the rear foot pushes, there is a complete body weight shift through the target. This means that there is total body commitment to the kick and it is not possible to check or control the depth of the kick. The snapping of the hip through the center axis results in weight shift into, if not through, the target. Shifting of the weight is a necessary component of any power kick.
7. GRAVITY AND THE LOSS OF CONTROL
Gravity is an independent force, and as it concerns us here it obeys its own law. It does not depend upon physical strength to be felt on the opponent. Indeed, its power, once set in motion, is independent of the executioner. Once you have thrown your weight through the Center Axis with full force, you are in a "Dead Fall". Gravity assumes control of the depth of the movement in either a punch or a kick; in the case of a joint lock, you are unable to sense the stress on the joint. The risk of utilizing gravity as a principle of power is the loss of control. It is a principle that should not be taught to lower color belt ranks.
8. THE GROUND AS AN ALLY
The ground is a foundation on which the body rest like a mobile projectile. In elementary physics we learn that if we press against a solid surface, the surface, unable to give way, will return the force equal to the amount applied. Thus the surface of the ground directly beneath the ball of the foot becomes a pressure plate from which you initiate acceleration of a movement. This is the most powerful of all the body mechanics of Power Kicking! It is executed with an explosive body drop into the ground before coiling. The effect is to push off the ground rather than simply picking the foot up into the coil. The ground becomes a spring board to launch the kick.
It is important to realize that this principle applies to both feet....you explode off the Right. rear foot into the coil, then push with the Left. rear foot into the target. When both feet push off the ground, acceleration increases through the target. Caution must be taken here since so much commitment of power is thrown into the kick, the knee can not bear more than a few kicks thrown into the air. It is better to kick into a bag, and the knee built up over time; normally, this is not a kick for anyone below Half-Black Belt.
An additional cautionary note regarding Power Thrust Kicks is that they are the equivalent to the Boxer's Right Cross. This means it is seldom delivered until it is set-up with the jab or other combinations. In the case of a Thrust Kick, such a commitment to weight shift requires that the kick be set-up with multiple combinations. The timing of a Power Thrust Kick is purely a tactical question, and will be determined by opportunity.
THE INTERNAL PRINCIPLES OF POWER
1. DYNAMIC TENSION EXERCISES
Dynamic Tension exercises are Ki Hap Ja Gi Forms. There are a variety of exercises which focus on different parts of the body like the hands, stomach, arms or lower body. But all of these exercises begin from the Horse Stance, sinking ones center by relaxing the upper body, tensing the lower body from the stomach down. The feet grip the floor while the hands are flexed tight. The hands are raised slowly under maximum tension; the face is relaxed. During the height of tension, it is important not to permit the blood run to the face. It can be controlled by either thinking the blood down, or taking a small breath.
2. THE CALM MIND
The Calm Mind is begun as a meditative exercise. It refers to the ability to empty the mind of all thoughts....focusing on emptiness. It is usually combined with diaphamatic breathing exercises to help focus. Some teachers suggest focusing on emptiness can be aided by staring at a spot on the wall or use of a tone or a ring of a bell, gong or other resonant sound. In the face of danger, it is the ability to empty the mind of emotion. One composes all thoughts into a single point of nothingness, allowing reaction to flow naturally and reflexively.
3. THE BREATH
There are two types of Ki Hap Ja Gi exercises and each require the development of different types of diaphragmatic breathing. The first holds the breath from beginning to end. The second exhales from the diaphragm throughout the exercise.
4. THE METAPHORIC MIND
The Metaphoric Mind is refers to visualization exercises. The student should spend some time in active meditation focused on visualization of technique. This an effective method of developing motor memory, and should not be neglected. It will help if the student creates an image of a perfect motion of say, the Spin Kick....sometimes it helps to associate the motion with a sword or sling. Practice spinning the weapon in a perfect circle many times before practicing the movement with the body. These visualization exercises should be done in a totally quiet room when there are no distractions.
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Copyright Â© 1996, Bob