Want to maximize the impact of your strikes? Check out what praying mantis kung fu instructor Jon Funk has to say about waist power!

An Okinawan karate instructor who once visited my martial arts school impressed me with his knowledge of how to efficiently generate power in hand techniques. It’s rare to see a person who practices a hard style utilize power that’s generated in the legs and then amplified in a torquing manner in the waist to eventually flow up through the body to the hands. Cultural Connection Few karate and taekwondo people have a good grasp of how to use what Chinese stylists call waist power. Instead, most use what I refer to as “hip-rotation momentive power.” If a practitioner is strong and large, HRMP can be effective. However, as age increases, physical ability naturally decreases, and along with it goes the ability to generate HRMP. Not so with the more efficient waist power. When the Okinawans first imported martial arts skills from China, the use of waist power was the preferred approach. Yet this effective method was lost because many students didn’t devote enough time to properly learn how to use waist power before they began teaching karate. Some also have speculated that the Okinawans didn’t want the Japanese to learn karate properly and, therefore, didn’t teach them the waist-power knowledge they’d acquired from the Chinese. Taekwondo stylists, who learned from Japanese karate practitioners, didn’t learn the Chinese waist-power method, either. Likewise, some kung fu teachers have failed to learn it. Different Methods The HRMP method of generating power in techniques is much easier because students require less skill and time to be able to use it. Waist power, on the other hand, is much more difficult to master because all parts of the body must be linked in a coordinated fashion within a supple muscular environment. If this skill is not mastered, techniques produce diminished power. At this point, you may be thinking about a specific type of power because every kung fu system has different names for power-generation methods. Actually, there’s no such thing as internal power or external power; there’s only efficiently delivered kinetic energy. Whether you employ the simpler HRMP or the more sophisticated waist power, both create kinetic energy. For kinetic energy to be effective, it must cause damage to the target. Therefore, the greater the efficiency in creating, delivering and exchanging kinetic energy, the less energy you need to produce a given amount of damage. The fact that it requires less energy and has greater efficiency in delivering power makes learning waist power worthwhile. Step by Step The first step in learning this approach is making sure you are “rooted.” Nearly everyone has heard the term often enough, but it can sound somewhat esoteric. A better description is to assume a stance in which your weight is balanced on the balls of your feet and your center of gravity is lowered. Only with this positioning can the two most important aspects of efficiently generating power be realized: balance and coordination. Combine the supple body state described above with a balanced position, and you can begin. It starts with your legs and is amplified by your waist. Kinetic energy then flows from your body into your hands, and only a supple body will allow this to occur. To better understand the coordination that’s required, consider an example from the world of physics: a row of steel balls suspended in line so they touch one another. When one ball is pulled away and released so it can hit the others, the ball at the opposite end swings away from the rest. This is a classic example of the efficient movement of kinetic energy through an inert body. Kung fu practitioners learn to make their body do the same thing. Waist power travels through the body only when all its parts are linked together properly. Misalignment detracts from the power output, as does stiffness in any part of the body. Learning kung fu’s method of producing power takes time, practice and a qualified teacher. The advantage is that a smaller person can generate a great deal of energy without needing a lot of upper body strength and a larger person can generate power without relying on only his strength. Jon Funk is a seven-star praying mantis kung fu instructor based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Continue your martial arts education here! •     Power Training for the Martial Arts, by Leo Fong. Available as a DVD (on sale now!) or an instant video download. •     Beyond Kung Fu: Breaking an Opponent's Power Through Relaxed Tension, by Leo Fong. Available as a book (on sale now!) or an instant PDF download. •     How to Develop Chi Power, a book by William Cheung.

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Do you want to maximize your self defense skills? Learn the game of combat chess and most importantly the queen of all moves.

Allow me to intercept those who would object to the title of this article. I'm not claiming that there's a secret move, shortcut or hack that will give you the edge in any fight. Even if there was an ultimate weapon or strategy, you likely would avoid it because you
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Looking to buy some weights to gain some strength?

Looking at Dumbbell, Kettlebells or Weighted bar? How about an all in one that won't just save you some good amount of money but also space? Look no further, we bring you the GRIPBELL!

Let's face it, when we do want to work on some strength building, we don't want to go around shopping for 20 different weight equipment things. That would just not want us to even do any sort of strength training. But what if we only needed a few, a few that can do the things we want without having 20 things lay around? That's where the GRIPBELL comes in. Let me clarify with you first, these are not some heavy duty, muscle exploding weights, they are for building the level of strength we as martial artists want without going crazy and insane in bulk sizing!

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Many different types of "blocks" are taught in most martial arts school. We are taught high blocks, low blocks, middle blocks, knife hand blocks, etc. Some schools will also teach how to use the legs to block an attack, as well.

The purpose of this writing is to possibly open some minds to the possibilities of going outside the box and considering alternatives to the basics.

Blocking is taught as a way of protecting oneself from harm. Truly, we don't "block" anything, as a non-martial artist would think of it. What we call "blocking" is more of a redirection of an opponent's attack, or even a counterstrike against the opponent's attacking limb.

To block something would mean to put something, like your arm, leg or other body part directly in front of the attack. That would certainly hurt and possibly cause some damage. The goal should be to move the attack out of the way in order to prevent injury and provide a way to fight back. For example, many schools teach blocks as a limb moving toward the strike such as a circular high block.

The movement required for a block might have other uses, if you keep an open mind. The blocking techniques can also be used as attack techniques. For example, your "low block" may be used as a striking technique against the outer thigh of the attacker. Your high block might be used as a strike to the jaw. The set up for a block can be used as a deflection, as well as the actual block.

Doing a block or a series of blocks will most likely not end an attack. A block needs to be followed by a counterattack. While the block is usually taught as a separate technique in order to learn it correctly, it should also be used in combination with a counter.

The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. Intensive books can and have be written about basic techniques. With this writing, I am hoping to create interest in exploring the additional possibilities for what we have been taught and what we teach others.

About Grand Master Stevens

GM Stevens has been training in taekwondo for 47 years under the tutelage of the late legendary Grand Master Richard Chun. He holds an 8th degree black belt and is certified in the USA and in Korea. Grand Master Stevens is a member of the Board of Directors of the prestigious Richard Chun TaeKwonDo World Headquarters organization. He has been very active in his community and has been a volunteer with the Glen Rock Volunteer Ambulance Corps for over 11 years. He is a certified member of C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Team).

Gary Stevens Taekwondo is located at 175 Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.

For more information: call (201) 670-7263, email: StevensTKD@aol.com or go to www.StevensTaeKwonDo.com

Having partners at or above your skill level is important for improving in your martial arts training. At some point, however, you will probably find yourself with a shortage of skilled partners, especially if you are an instructor.

This can happen for any number of reasons: students can move away, change their work schedules, start a family, etc., and just like that, you find that you're the highest-ranked student, or sole instructor, in your gym or dojo. This doesn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, if you take advantage of it, even working exclusively with lower-ranking classmates or students can improve your skills.

I used to host a twice-a-week training session at my dojo where I invited mostly black belts from other schools (as well as a few of my advanced students) to come and run drills. It was a blast. These were tough two- to three-hour sessions where I got to work with fighters of all different sizes, speeds, and technique preferences. My sparring improved dramatically over the next few months, and I don't think I've ever been in better shape. But unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. And as the old saying goes, "You gotta work with what ya got." So, make it hard on yourself.

I like to set handicaps when fighting my students. Specifically, I focus on forcing myself to work on improving my weak areas. Is you right leg weaker than the left? Then only kick with the right leg when sparring your students. Not much of an inside fighter? Don't kick at all. Training with partners of lesser skill not only helps you improve your weak points but gives them an opportunity to improve as well by working on strategy. It's also great for building their confidence. It can also be a low-cost opportunity to test new techniques and combinations, which benefits you as well.

In grappling, just like sparring, there is little benefit to wrapping lower ranking classmates into pretzels over and over, for them or you. Instead, let your partner put you in a bad situation. Let them get the mount; help them sink in that choke or armbar. If you start standing, such as in judo, allow your partner to get the superior grip before attempting a throw. This way you will get comfortable working out of a weaker position and your less-experienced partner can perfect their technique (and get experience using multiple techniques, if you get out of their first one).

You might think that giving advantages like these to students who may be far beneath your skill level is much of a challenge. Trust me, you'll reconsider that sentiment when you wind up sparring a 6'5" novice with zero control over his strength after deciding to only use your weak leg, or have a 250-pound green belt lying across your diaphragm trying to get an armlock after you let them get the pin. Remember, this is exactly what you signed up for: a challenge.

If you find yourself at the top of the heap without partners who are sufficiently challenging, there is no need to despair. Use it as a low-stress opportunity to improve your weaknesses and develop avenues to help your less experienced classmates and students to grow. You may even be surprised. One day they might present more of a challenge than you ever imagined!
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