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"One thing has always been true: That book ... or ... that person who can give me an idea or a new slant on an old idea is my friend." - Louis L'Amour

"Ideally, your self-defense will never get physical. Avoiding the situation and running or talking you way out - either of these is a higher order of strategy than winning a physical battle." - Wise Words of Rory Miller, Facing Violence: Chapter 7: after, subparagraph 7.1:medical

"Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider..." - Francis Bacon

Warning, Caveat and Note: The postings on this blog are my interpretation of readings, studies and experiences therefore errors and omissions are mine and mine alone. The content surrounding the extracts of books, see bibliography on this blog site, are also mine and mine alone therefore errors and omissions are also mine and mine alone and therefore why I highly recommended one read, study, research and fact find the material for clarity. My effort here is self-clarity toward a fuller understanding of the subject matter. See the bibliography for information on the books.

Note: I will endevor to provide a bibliography and italicize any direct quotes from the materials I use for this blog. If there are mistakes, errors, and/or omissions, I take full responsibility for them as they are mine and mine alone. If you find any mistakes, errors, and/or omissions please comment and let me know along with the correct information and/or sources.

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How tight should the fist be when punching/striking, i.e., from the hip chamber position to target?

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Let me begin by addressing the chamber position on the hip, not a good fight or self-defense position. It is great as a novice level teaching tool but it behooves the practitioner and sensei to move away from this chambering as soon as they learn the principles involved in punching and striking. This chambering gives your adversary way to much time and distance to see it, to defect it and to kick your bloody ass. Economy of motion while achieving power and force with the movement of your mass, etc. while allowing that to be achieved by a drop step process exploiting gravity to your favor and so on. 

Chambering is a teaching tool and a process to provide judges something to critique and score for kata competitions. Some will say it provides more power but in realty the extra distance the fist has to travel just takes away some advantage and provides your adversary opportunity to prevent your fist from reaching its target. Chambering, traveling more distance thus requring more time and the inherent energy loss and bleed because of the bleed off points along the line from shoulder girdle, to arm and elbow, to wrist and into fist have to achieve certain principles all at the same exact moment the fist reaches the target. The further the fist has to travel the longer you will need to take to achieve that power and force chain of events that culminate into that one burst of power and force to the target. If you chamber your adding to many variables to the striking process. 

All this explains somewhat why striking and punching are not effective and efficient as striking arts would have you believe. It is geared toward a more social way of violence meant to communicate and not truly injure or kill. There are other and better ways to apply grave harm toward an attacker with appropriate levels of force. 

It is interesting how this concept of tightness of fist, etc., to explain hitting and being hit (yes, a pun on Marc MacYoung’s book on this very subject) is a huge topic with many threads, theories and concepts that are derived not from reality, self-defense fighting or even sport fights (hitting here with the fist is different than hitting in a self-defense situation or street fighting).

Here follows some of the answers provided to the person who asked this question with some comments from me after each.

Some of the answers:

“ … relax as much as possible until impact, focus more on tightening the pinky and ring, and take into account what your specific style requires you to do.”

Comment: The relaxation to flex/tighten needs more to fully understand that concept and should include a full and comprehensive explanation of the “hard-to-soft/soft-to-hard” maxim in hitting and being hit. The place I lose it is at the tightening of the “Pinky and Ring” statement because I cannot even fathom how the pinky finger works in this dynamic tension type thing for a fist and striking let along what the “Ring” has to do with anything unless they are actually referring to the ring-finger then I don’t see the connections. When it comes to taking into account your specific style requirements that also means nothing to my view especially if you train principles over technique because the principles teach this without any connection to any system or style. Principles are universal to all of them.

“If your punch starts at the hip then it really doesn't matter.”

Comment: Ok, what the heck does that mean. Don’t just put that out there and let it hang on the limbs of “Assumptions.” Don’t let students assume and don’t assume that students will automatically understand because then they will just assign something pretty much random to the meaning in the hopes they are right and don’t end up making Sensei angry. In a nutshell, in self-defense or in the fight if you are chambering your losing. 

“This depends on your level of experience. The longer you've trained the more you relax. In chamber: fist should look tight, but actually be relaxed. Fist turns as it is seeking target, last quarter of twist as knuckles strikes point, tightening fist and stance.”

Comment: Text book explanation of a system that utilized the twist punch in karate. Read the comments and article to address this quote or statement. Don’t rely on the length of time in training to arrive at a relaxed state because if you are not actively addressing such things from the novice to the student levels you do disservice to your students. If this is for self-defense and not just to impress or display or demonstrate for trophies and points the twist punch may or may not be good in self-defense but more importantly almost all of this will most likely go in the toilet when the adrenal chemical dump hits when attacked. 

“ … when I was a beginner I was taught to have my fist as tight as possible. … I do not close or tighten my fist until just before it hits the target. Then I only tighten it 30% to maybe 50%. i am told by others I have worked out with that my hands are heavy. They say I hit hard. When you tighten your fist, you tighten your forearm and to a lesser extent your shoulder. It is said that you can move a relaxed muscle faster than a tight one. By being as relaxed as possible until the end of a punch you can punch faster. Even partial tension in any of the muscles involved will result in a punch being slower than the same type of punch being executed with muscles being more relaxed. Also tension held when not necessary will sap your endurance and energy quickly.”

Comment: Remember, when you tighten the fist or the body you are bleeding off energy and slowing your speed down, not good. There is enough bleed off as it is in hitting so don’t promote such tightening. This tightening of 30% to 50% is just one of those things done to give more credence to the concept. When you do that instant of tightening at the target trying to trian to limit it to some arbitrary percentage makes for good conversation between Sensei and Stup, ops Student but doesn’t mean a lot, call it a meme of good but irrelevant information to make things feel and appear legit. Beginning at the comment of “When you tighten your fist, …,” it begins to take on importance and relevancy but there is more so continue on that explanation. 

“On impact...tighten then relax.”

Comment: Yea, ANDDDDDD …. ????

Bibliography (Click the link)

Is Prolonged Dynamic Tension Beneficial?

Blog Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

Beneficial as to health and/or beneficial as to martial arts and then how is it beneficial regarding both? All of these are hard to answer and, honestly, it depends on a variety of factors.

One such factor is the individual, how will prolonged dynamic tension effect them physically? I don’t mention mentally/psychologically because I truly do not believe that it directly affects our mental state except as it might if certain physical effects are caused through say, “Blood pressures on the brain, etc.”

Caveat time: I am not a medical professional and as far as I know there are not research papers on the effects of dynamic tensions against the body, etc. I make my comments in this article from personal experience and judgments from my experiences in martial arts where I do practice a form of dynamic tensioning. It is more on how I do it and mostly it is not prolonged. 

In the martial arts communities there are those who perform various forms of dynamic tensioning. In general, I find dynamic tension exercise beneficial but where things tend to fall short is on “How one does the dynamic tension exercises.”

Let me get this out now, dynamic tension as to applications or goals of self-defense are not conducive to proper applications of the fundamental principles of martial disciplines toward the application of physical self-defense. It bleeds off our flow of energy and wastes it thus making its practice as to intent important. 

Some might argue that using dynamic tension in the application of techniques is about power but except in cases where other factors actually achieve said power over a direct power generation through such dynamic tensions is present and of great concern. In general for self-defense we NEVER want to rely heavily and solely on such singular applications. 

So when talking about health and fitness we can argue that dynamic tension is of benefit but then the application of prolonged dynamic tension comes into question. I feel that the practice of prolonged dynamic tension is pretty much based on the misconception that if dynamic tension is healthy, creates fitness and works toward power and force generation if we “Do more of it” is a misnomer based on feelings, feeling stronger and powerful. It is proven that such feelings are not actually strength and/or power. 

If we accept that dynamic tension exercise is good for our health and fitness without all the other amendments, feelings and conceptions then it is good to practice it along with other fitness and health related exercises and programs. As I have done and train I left off the, “Prolonged dynamic tension” process and use a more seemingly beneficial practice of yin-yang application, i.e., an equal and rhythmic and cadence driven process of dynamic tension to positive relaxation and so on, i.e., kind of like training the physiokinetic principle of sub-principles of, “Sequential locking/unlocking, breathing, structure and alignments, etc.” 

Others have argued vehemently that their practice of prolonged dynamic tension has resulted in lower blood pressure; healthier life; being fit; and more powerful and so on but cannot, will not or are unable to provide the kind of research toward that one aspect vs. the possibility of genes being the actual source of such health benefits. 

Caveat Two: I also cannot produce any such evidence as to my viewpoint other than what I believe I gain from my use of dynamic tensioning and readily admit and accept that my current physical and mental state of health and fitness may well be due to genetics and my healthier lifestyle that includes exercise benefits of the practice of martial arts. I walk a lot and that may be my actual beneficial exercise while not experiencing any health and fitness degradation from prolonged or not prolonged dynamic tension efforts. 

In closing out this particular discussion and topic I have to say in the end how one practices, trains and applies martial arts is an individual decision and I would just add that when taking up such disciplines it is best to seek out advice from medical authorities as to benefits or detriments to such things like, “Prolonged Dynamic Tension” exercises and practices. 

Oh, as to force and power or other benefits in applying martial arts, prolonged dynamic tensions overall doesn’t really provide all that much benefit in fighting the good fight in reality. The training is just not complete and comprehensive enough one way or another to say it is a benefit. 

Bibliography (Click the link)