3 Power Principles

In the Adults Class this month we have been working on a technnique called “Thundering Hammers” and discussing the 3 ways of generating power in Kenpo. I came across the following article from Nackord Kenpo Karate that does a good job of explaining the principles. Enjoy!

Power Overview

The body creates power for athletic performance in three ways, and there are a number of ways of expressing these three power principles. Sometimes they are referred to as:

1) torque,
2) back-up mass
3 gravitational marriage

Sometimes they are also referred to as turning on an axis, directional movement, and dropping the body weight. But, however the principles are stated, creating power for athletic performance is done simply by moving through the dimensions of width, depth and height.

Before going into the principles in more detail, a few factors must be discussed. Of course, the faster a mass is accelerated, the more energy will be developed. Therefore, speed won’t be discussed as a factor in creating power, but thought of as a way of regulating how much power is achieved.

Also, the power which is created by the body can have a varying effect on an opponent depending on three conditions.

1. First, the weapon that is used can alter the effect of a strike.
2. Second, the target being hit can alter the effect.
3. And, finally, the direction the target is moving in relation to the weapon can alter the effect of a strike.

For instance, if an person has the ability to create a theoretical maximum 10X of power, punching an opponent in the shoulder with a fist as he moves away from you, will not have the same effect as punching the opponent in the throat with a half fist as he moves towards you. This is assuming each strike used 10X of power. The second example creates much more effect on the opponent because a softer target (vital area) is hit with a more penetrating weapon (concentration of energy) as the target moves towards the strike (borrowed force).
Power Principles

Width or Torque–The body rotates on many different axes when creating power. It could be the rotation of the arm in a punch, or the leg in a kick. Generally though, we refer to torque as rotating on an axis which runs from the top of the head, down the spine, and continuing to the ground. This vertical axis should be kept perpendicular to the ground.

Depth or Back Up Mass–Moving the body directly toward the target allows the weight of the body to be added to the energy of the strike.

Height or Gravitational Marriage–Gravity can be a friend or foe. If you fall, it is a foe, but if we use the energy from the pull of gravity and add it to our strike, the strike will be enhanced.

A very clear example of these principles is the action of a baseball player batting a ball. First he steps toward the pitch, then rotates on his vertical axis as he drops his body weight into his legs. This is the movement of the body through the dimensions of width, depth, and height, and is used in almost all cases of the body generating power.