Thursday, May 10, 2018


It is a well-known fact that most of our movements have the very same origin – our natural, inborn locomotion. The only exclusion might be fine motor skills like writing, piano and most other musical instrument playing, drawing with a pencil and so on.

Humans' bipedal gait has a lot in common with the quadrupedal gait of the great majority of mammals. During walking or running our arms actually simulate the forward limbs movements of quadrupeds while they walk or run, even though our arms assist us in keeping balance and rotating the torso and don’t participate directly in the propulsion of our body.

Therefore, we have to expect that when considering Martial Arts movement our punches would also have a lot in common with quadrupeds' manner of locomotion or movement in space like walking or running.

There are two additional main points of interest to this approach.

The first one is that in practical terms animals move in an absolutely natural manner. They don't suffer from cultural influences like human beings. Therefore, we have a pure basis for analyses without cultural or social influences, that impair our movement. I call these influences and impairments "cultural stiffness".

The second point is that many other sports and daily activities can be greatly enhanced by this method of analyses based on our understanding of quadrupeds' gait. It can benefit tennis, baseball, basketball, wrestling of all kinds and so on.

Let's observe a cheetah pursuing an antelope. Our main point of interest would be the function of the cheetah's feet. A cheetah's feet first reach in the air as far as possible and then land on the ground. During this very moment the cheetah's body drops down and at the same time moves forward with tremendous speed. The feet have to absorb the enormous shock produced by this landing. This is the first phase of a cheetah's step – absorption.

The second phase is rotation. It actually begins before the landing phase and continues during the contact with the ground and after the pads have left the ground. The legs of a cheetah produce a powerful and very fast voluntary rotation, especially during the fastest moments of pursuit. I call this kind of rotation "positive rotation".

The third phase is bouncing. A cheetah's legs continue the rotation and its feet add an additional rotational strike into the ground, propelling its body forward and up into the into the air – see: 

The biomechanics of this style of running can be observed in the forward punches of FORMLESS FLOWTM. The wrist is completely dynamic during the punch and uses inertia of rotation.

During the first phase of the punch there is absorption, it sends the kinetic energy of the punching arm into the body of opponent. The punching forearm continues its rotation and the fist continues to rotate in the wrist. These rotations produce the bouncing of the opening fist at the moment of actual punching, exactly as the cheetah's feet bounce from the ground.

This bounce sends an additional, second portion of energy directly into the body of the opponent and produces a tremendous internal effect. For example, a punch that appeared to have missed the target and only slightly slipped along the opponent's skin in the abdomen area can cause a severe and crucial effect even on a skilled and strong adversary. This is a bounce-punch.

The karate and most other Traditional Martial Arts straight forward punches have no bouncing. The biomechanics of this kind of punch are the biomechanics of an emergency brake.

If we examine the emergency brake of a running cheetah and compare it with the three phases described above we can clearly see the first phase or absorption. In slow motion videos we can see how a cheetah forcibly tries to prevent legs rotation. If the speed is high enough the rotation will happen contrary to the efforts of a cheetah to stop it. It's a "negative rotation". It is the cheetah's compelled, reluctant rotation during the effort to stop the motion contrary to the "positive rotation" which facilitates and accelerates the motion.

Back to the punch. The traditional instruction demands that a forward punch in karate and most other traditional martial arts will be performed with a stiff and straight wrist in the moment of actual punch. This stiffness prevents tearing of tendons and ligaments. It's a real danger, if at the moment of impact the wrist bends inside or flexes with a closed fist.

Slow motion videos demonstrate what really happens during this punch. The wrist of the punching arm actually performs a bending outside or extension in the moment of actual punch impact – see:

This bending weakens the punch, which is good for absorption but can be bad for the punch's effectiveness. There's no positive rotation in this kind of punch, only the wrist performs a negative rotation and therefore the phase of bouncing is also missing. This absorption-punch is considerably weaker and slower than bounce-punch.

 There are a great number of different styles in Martial Arts. Every style can have many different forward punches and their variations. Therefore, it's impossible to analyze all of them, especially in a short article. Nevertheless, I personally have had the opportunity to observe all manner of these punches of different sorts and modifications and can attest all of them can be analyzed in this way. The same is true for many other sports and physical activities.

The last group of punches I will discuss in this chapter are basic boxing punches like hook and uppercut.

These punches are performed with the wrist fixed by wrapping. Contrary to straight forward punches, including jab or cross in boxing, these punches have both absorption and positive rotation. These punches are much more powerful and versatile than straight forward punches. There is also a kind of bouncing that can often be observed in these types of punches. It appears as if the punch just swiftly and lightly slipped over the body of the opponent. These kinds of punches have an enormously devastating effect on an opponent – see min 03:06

min 01:33 :

min 07:24 :

And yet, these punches produce only a partial bouncing and therefore lack the full vigor and thus its effect. In order to feel the difference between true bouncing and this version let's perform a short and simple experiment. Stand on one leg and jump up without any participation of the foot. You will notice that you can produce only a partial effort compared to a usual jump that implements the foot. Your jump will be considerably weaker and the movement in general will be rough and cumbersome, resembling the movement of a lizard. There is a great difference in walking and running between a cheetah and a lizard. The same difference can be observed between the forward punch of FORMLESS FLOWTM and hooks and uppercuts in boxing.

There are very special effects that can be found only in FORMLESS FLOWTM punches.

The flexible wrist of the cheetah allows it to suddenly change its direction of running. In the case of a cheetah this ability is crucial to its survival. The flexible wrist of a FORMLESS FLOWTM practitioner in the moment of actual punch impact allows the changing of the direction of the punch instantly, in a manner completely hidden from the opponent or any observer. This change happens inside the body of the opponent, after the initial contact with him. Therefore, the opponent can be struck in one point and be harmed in a very different point.

When a cheetah is running and swiftly bouncing from the ground, pieces of grass, soil and small stones are dislodged and propelled back and up into the air by its fingers and claws as they pierce the ground in a galloping motion.

Similarly, the FORMLESS FLOWTM bounce-punch that is directed to the belly region strikes the opponent from inside to the outward direction.

This strike produces an internal wave that is reflected from the internal surface of the abdominal wall and then swiftly moves like a snake inside the body, hitting the internal organs of the opponent.

This punch looks very fast, seemingly effortless and extremely effective. It is especially destructive against a living, breathing target. Dead materials like brass, iron and wood don't produce such internal waves.

This punch is unique to FORMLESS FLOWTM.

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