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Student Demonstrating Kinetic Linking Kick

Learning the skills involved in any martial art is important, but learning the science behind the art truly empowers the martial artist. Physics apply equally to all people and techniques at all times, whether you are standing, kneeling, big or small, strong or weak — it is how this knowledge is used that makes all the difference. The concepts of power, gravity, energy, friction and impulse have direct application in all training maneuvers of martial arts, and for this reason, it could really be called the martial sciences: the scientific study of how to fight.

When the age-old martial arts masters were first developing their cultured fighting techniques, they tested them with the laws of physics. In any duel, both fighters bring a certain amount of energy to the table. The total amount of conceivable energy depends on each fighter’s size, strength and physical health. The point of karate is to use your body to direct this energy.

Usually, a stronger or larger person can apply more energy than a smaller person, yet this doesn’t necessarily mean he will win. Depending on how that energy is directed, the fighter can change the power and of the force he generates.

Shifting of Body Weight

Martial artists increase the force of the hit by putting their entire body into the punch or kick. When sparring, you will often see that the fighters shift their weight from one leg to the other when they throw a punch. In this way, the energy of their body, which is constantly moving, goes into each hit along with the energy of the arm muscles. Of course, faster speed increases the force of each blow as well.

Video: Kinetic Linking

Always Follow-through with Strikes

One of the most important rules in karate is the follow-through on punches and kicks. When you hit something, the natural instinct is to slow down just before impact because you don’t want to hurt your hand. Martial artists counteract this hesitation instinct through visualization. They imagine pushing their fist to some point past their target to maximize the force of each movement. Breathing is also paramount when practicing any type of martial art. Before an attack, the fighter takes a deep breath, and then as the punch or kick is released, he lets out the breath to help him focus on his movements.

When making the decision to learn martial arts, it is important to be aware of the correct way to align forces when delivering a punch or kick. The instructor will most likely explain how and why power can be obtained and improved by understanding the physics of each technique, rather than simply employing brute force.