Thursday, January 17, 2013

Effortless Power: Punching and Grappling

Christian Campfield
New York, New York
Master Ralston,
I would like to ask some questions:
1. It seems to me that lifting weights in order to develop muscular strength in no way helps the development of effortless power and in a way, may hinder it. Agree or disagree?

PR: Agree. In theory there may be nothing wrong with weight training as long as sufficient time is also applied to fully stretching and relaxing the muscles trained. However, training to tighten muscles and increase strength usually means increased tension and a commitment to the use of strength rather than effortless power.

2. I have been trying to find an effortless-power way to throw a jab. Honestly, this is VERY difficult. Recently I started hitting the heavy bay with 100 jabs in a row. All the while I'm zero-in on what muscle activity is superfluous to the bare act of the jab. Throwing so many punches in a row brings to the surface the problems because muscle fatigue hurts. Where does it hurt? How can I modify the action(s) as to avoid that fatigue? ... Those are the questions I'm trying to focus on in streamlining the action. What to do you think of this? ... Do you have any further suggestions regarding punching with effortless power?

PR: When you finish a session you should be more relaxed than when you started. Look at it as a relaxing exercise. It shouldn't hurt. When you feel pain, pinpoint the strained area and you will likely find that it occurs where the whole body's integrity or unity is broken. Align the body and movement so that this break disappears. Be careful not to use strength to "patch" it up. The pressure must reach all the way to the bottom of the foot. I have a 5 step method to achieve this; next time you are in a workshop where such a lesson is appropriate, ask about it. (We covered it at the camp for example. See Mike Cottrell-Tribes' comments above regarding punching -- this is the method he learned at the camp.)

3. On to the mat: In a grappling situation you made the suggestion to "relax on the bottom and let him carry you on top." This was very good advice. But somehow I still have seen myself struggling, pushing, forcing, etc. It feels like I'm missing some secret. It is as if there is a mental/physical block. There has been great difficulty in anticipating my opponents movements. All this in spite of the fact that in the school where I train, out of fifty, there are only (maybe) two people that can beat me. My regular skill does not interest me. I'm only interested in expanding those brief moments when the movements just happen by themselves. Can you make any more suggestions?

PR: Find ways to use their efforts against them, let their action get them into trouble or lead you into the next thing which puts you into an advantageous position. In grappling sometimes this needs to be doneby allowing them to work a little. Let them feel as though they could have success at some technique andthen turn the tables as they attempt it. On the other hand, besides "leading" them into things, you can "cut" or reduce their potential or advantageous position as a constant, thus avoiding the "big problems" altogether. Using leading, cutting, and other Cheng Hsin dynamics may also help you find ways to use
less strength.

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