The Devastating Power of Hips
A deadly improvement that can be made to the effectiveness of your martial arts moves – including blocks, strikes, and both evasive and offensive positioning – comes from using the hips. As simple as this sounds, it requires practice and effort, and a higher proficiency in this one act can make the difference between an effective martial artist and a mediocre one.
An Improvement worthy to learn
As hip movement can drastically alter the effectiveness of most martial arts moves, it is important to start at the very basics of understanding why, and this is most easily felt whilst striking. If you strike using arm and shoulder strength alone, it will never be as effective.
The speed of a movement, as well as the power generated on impact, can be enhanced by beginning the motion through the hips into the spinal column, and then into the chest, shoulders, and down through the extension of the arm into the designated strike.
Everything is connected
Depending on the strike or block in question, different muscles will become involved, but all movements become stronger through use of power of hips. Just like a driveshaft turns the outer edge of a wheel faster, the hips and torso turn your arms with incredible force and allow a fluid and powerful impact generated with full-body force.
Tips on striking using power of hips:
- The hips should remain on one plane: do not drop one side to scoop up the other in a rising attack.
- The movement should be straight, and succinct. Turning the hips faster will result in a faster strike.
- The shoulders need to move in parallel with the hips. The hips drive the shoulder at the same speed and angle from beginning to end to maximize efficiency.
- Keep the muscles relaxed before and after the punch: tightening the body will slow down the movement.
- Your upper body should remain perpendicular to the ground. Do not lean forwards or backwards, as both power and balance will be lost.
- Ideally, the anterior surface of your rear leg will complete the movement pointing directly towards the target. If you imagine the clock face, you could turn from 3 o’clock, generating the power off your right leg, through the hips, to an opponent at 12 o’clock, and your strike and rear leg will always finish, facing 12 o’clock.
- This move requires much strength in the hips, buttocks, hamstrings and quadriceps. It also engages the oblique abdominal muscles. Ensure you are training them regularly if you wish to be effective.
- Bone and Muscle Conditioning. The harder you deliver a strike, the higher the chance of damaging your bones and muscles. Just like in archery, you could pull an arrow back a few inches aiming at a block of timber, and it will bounce away, mostly unscathed. If you draw the arrow back and send it with full momentum, a weak arrow will be snapped, but an arrow with a strong shaft will pierce the wood. Think of your arms in such a way if you are going to throw them with greater power, then strengthen and condition your fists and arms to absorb extra impact.
Try to include explosive conditioning and power through hip-propulsion into all of your practice routine. Practice slowly until you feel the planes of your body naturally moving at maximum efficiency, and gradually increase your speed. At times, it may feel monotonous, but your techniques will never be mediocre.