I got to thinking about power in the martial arts over the weekend, or more specifically the application of 'force'.
I am short and - well, 'chunky' would probably be about the kindest way of putting it. My lack of height and extra weight mean that speed has never been my thing. I do find it easy to put on muscle so I've concentrated on that. Pound for pound I'm probably stronger than the average woman, at least in the sense that I can lift heavier weights more often. I've certainly found this useful to a degree in the martial arts, since I know that my weight and musculature means that I can generally hit fairly hard. Given that I can also take a punch, it's one of those times where I can effectively use my weight to my advantage.
However, the ability to generate 'force' or 'power' is more than just about physical strength. There is a young American lady who trains with our krav class. She is significantly taller than me, but judging by her slender build, very much lighter. Despite this, she is the real 'big hitter' in the group.
Why should this be?
First of all, heavy musculature (ie hypertrophy) does not necessarily indicate functional strength or power. Many lightly built athletes are known for their exceptional strength.
It should also be noted that strength and bodyweight are of limited use in delivering powerful strikes if those techniques lack skill. Skill is more than successfully executing the technique in isolation, it also includes recruiting the entire kinetic chain - effectively getting your body 'behind' the technique in order to generate force. Skillful technique also includes speed, timing and appropriate target selection.
Clearly this is something this lady is well on her way to mastering, and I'm still in the process of learning about.
Training update – Luzzone Dam trip!
5 weeks ago