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Orange Belt
Orange Belt

Joined: 16 Jul 2005
Posts: 144
Location: USA
Styles: Combat Karate, Kenpo,Jujitsu, and Boxing

PostPosted: Thu Jun 22, 2006 7:00 am    Post subject: Three Stages of Muscle Action Reply with quote

One of the most complex aspects of the "combative arts" is the study of muscle action. This combat motion is one area where it seems that no matter how much time, effort and thought you put into its study, there is still more to learn. In this article, I am going to attempt to explain the three stages of this elusive topic.

When talking about combat motion, muscle action should be one of the first things considered. Muscle action is the exertion of force by the muscle groups of the body. This expenditure can produce force that propels the body (or parts of the body) in a given direction. This force can also be used to cause a change of direction or to stop the body (or parts of the body). One of the common misconceptions about this topic is that the large muscle groups are the primary actors when muscle action occurs. Generally, the more body mass that is being moved, the larger the muscle group(s) needed to move it. However, small items (such as your fingers for a finger whip) use a combination of large and small muscle groups. There are three types of muscle action, which create, continue and finish a technique. Preparatory muscle action, explosive muscle action and conclusive muscle action. I will break down each stage in a little more detail.

Preparatory muscle action is the first stage of muscle action. This stage involves preparing or setting the body for the upcoming motion. Generally, in this stage the body is set into proper position depending the desired action. Preparatory muscle action is often overlooked when doing a technique, but should be studied because generally techniques of similar aspect require similar preparatory muscle action. Offensively this means that learning to move from one technique to a similar technique should be a goal. Defensively, noticing preparatory muscle action gives us early warning as to what is coming down the pike (always a good thing)! Because of muscle memory, preparatory muscle action can help you reduce the delivery time of a technique. This can be expanded to the point that a series of movements can be fused together, because each one has sequential flow. Preparatory muscle action helps this because it helps develop the neural pathways in the brain and those starting positions become natural settings for the body. This means that those movements all become more natural.

Explosive muscle action is the second stage of muscle action. In this stage your muscles are used to launch your techniques. This generally means that Body alignment has been achieved (usually in the preparatory stage), thus allowing for maximum power and speed. In this stage all action is committed to the end result. This commitment makes any attack vulnerable (a successful block, parry or evasion leaves the attacker open), while any defensive motion must be successfully executed (unsuccessful execution results in being left open to attack). One thing that must be kept in mind during this phase of action, is that your “explosive action” does not mean “reckless abandon”, you must still maintain control of your body in order to execute proper technique. A wild movement may seem to be explosive muscle action, but to an experienced martial artist, it is not considered as such, because it has no control and therefore cannot be directed. Wild movement rarely creates body alignment and therefore has very little back up mass, which affects the speed and power (effectiveness) of the technique. Controlled explosive muscle action is directed, manipulated and funneled to allow for body alignment, thus creating back up mass. That means that the strength, weight and speed of the whole body is placed behind the technique executed. As you can see, proper use of explosive muscle action should be a goal for all combat motion.

Conclusive muscle action is the third and final stage of muscle action. I refer to this stage as the follow through stage of muscle action. In order for combat motion to be effective, it must have complete progression. Conclusive muscle action puts the final emphasis on a technique. This can be the snap at the end of a reverse punch or the downward jerk of a throwing technique, etc. The important thing about this motion is that it completes: the technique. I know what some of you may be thinking. "I have seen plenty of martial arts masters, who went from technique to technique without slowing or stopping." To this I would say that there is a difference between continuous action and not concluding a technique. I use to watch my Sensei do some very amazing things and he seemed to be a constant blur or motion, but I could always see that he concluded each technique before moving on to another. Grandmaster Kemp always said "You can be beat to the start of a technique by another martial artist, but you should never get beat to the conclusion of your technique." It took me a long time to understand this, but I finally got it. What Grandmaster Kemp said had a double meaning. First, speed is good as long as proper technique is being used (therefore getting beat to the punch by a sloppy, undeveloped technique isn't in and of itself bad), but it is more important to start with proper technique and end with proper technique, than it is to be fast. Secondly is a mindset that Grandmaster Kemp tried to instill in his students. That mindset was no matter what happens, how much pain you are in, you always finish (don't give up, always fight to the end).
"Not every tiger will pounce, but every tiger may!"

United States Combat Martial Arts Association International
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KF Administrator

Joined: 01 May 2001
Posts: 27128
Location: Los Angeles, California

PostPosted: Thu Jun 22, 2006 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the submission.
Patrick O'Keefe - Administrator
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KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 27914
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Tue Jun 27, 2006 9:16 pm    Post subject: 3 stages of muscle action Reply with quote

This is very nice. There are so many body mechanics involved in MA movement. This is a very nice breakdown, and it is very well written.
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