Methods of Generating Power

When one decides to follow the path of the martial arts, as a beginner, there are many false notions which will usually fall away with time. One of these notions is the idea of one style being superior to another style.  While this attitude is to be expected, it is immature.  Advanced martial artists can admit, without feeling that it diminishes them in any way, that any martial art could be right for anyone. There is no superior art, as they say, only superior practitioners.  While there are those who will publicly express this fine notion, they will privately bash any art which does things differently than they do.  Within such simple techniques as a punch, there are many differing philosophies as to the best method of generating a powerful punch. Some schools teach that a full pivot of the waist will produce the most powerful punch, while others believe in a whipping motion of the waist, where the hips will actually change directions in mid punch. Still other styles will call of a rise and fall motion, believing that gravity will add to the momentum of the strike, thus increasing the power.  The one of these which will be the most powerful is simply the one that you are most trained to use. And whatever you are taught, you must have faith that you are being taught correctly. Belief is really wishing. It comes from the Anglo-Saxon root Leif, which means to wish. Faith is a more open attitude, open to truth, to reality, whatever it may turn out to be. “I want to know the truth”, that is the attitude of faith.  Let me speak of my own training, for it is what I know best. I use a whipping motion in the hips most of the time. I find this to produce the most powerful, and fastest punch, for me. The key point here is found in those last two words – for me. I am able to produce the most speed and power in the whipping motion of the hips. But, that doesn’t mean that you will find the same to be true. Let us take for a counter example, ITF Taekwondo. In the ITF, they are taught a method called the “sine wave”. This uses an exaggerated up and down motion of the entire body to produce a powerful punch or strike. I cannot generate this power that the ITF people speak of. This does not mean that it cannot be done, or that they are wrong. The statement simply means what it says – I cannot generate power in this manner. I am sure that there must be those who can, because if not, someone would have surely said something by now!  So once we reach the point of understanding that there is more than one right way to generate power, we have had a very powerful moment. We have reached a new level that many and more martial artists never allow themselves to reach. This is the level of understanding that our way is not the only way out there. And that other ways are just as valid as our own.  I think back to my time in the USTA/ITA group. Not only did they not admit that other TKD organizations existed, they would not mention that other styles of martial arts existed. They may have changed this position by now, as it has been more than ten years since I have had any meaningful contact with them.  It is very important that we recognize more than one way of doing things. There is no “this way is the only way” to a true martial artist. Just as there is no indefensible technique, or unbeatable person.