Friday, March 02, 2007

Explosiveness in Pencak Silat - Part 1

Ask yourself this question. What is the secret to effective striking (kicking, slapping, pushing, whatever) within the martial arts or any combative endeavor? Think about this for a few minutes and then when you've come up with the best answer you've got, continue reading on.

-Insert jeopardy theme music here-

Okay, you're ready now right? You've got the answer you think is best? Of all the answers I've gotten from people, the one that is the most obvious, in my mind at least, has never been given.

Making contact. This is the single secret to effective striking. You can have all of the power, technique, relaxation, etcetera that you want but if you can't make contact then it's all wasted. There is no value in the prettiest, most powerful strike if it never contacts the target. Obvious right. So obvious it seems, that it is often neglected or overlooked entirely by practitioners. Hopefully, it is still understood that power and other elements are adjuncts to making contact and cannot be neglected either.

Now that we are talking on the subject, it seems that the next section of the discussion should probably center around HOW to hit the target, that is, how to make contact. In PSP, we do this through explosiveness in movement primarily. That is to say, that we hope to be non-telegraphic in our attacks. Of course, other elements enter into the mix too, such as our ability to create optimal angles in order for our explosiveness to be used, and additionally, becoming aware of those opportunities when they unveil themselves to us or taking that a step further by continuously moving in ways that "create" the angles and the opportunity with greater propensity.

That said, the idea of explosiveness can be broken up into three primary areas: The hands, the waist, and the feet. Within these primary categories there may be many different ways to accomplish explosive movement.

As it regards the hands it can often be difficult to attack explosively. It is normal for practitioners to want to utilize power when attacking with the hands which often leads us to an overemphasis on power. The over-emphasis on power typically manifests itself in a pre-strike drawing of the hand back or coiling. Sometimes it will even manifest itself in ways that are not directly relevant to power development such as a grimace or change in facial expression. Additionally, other elements such as weight shifting can also be visible when trying to strike.

Here are some methods that may improve the explosiveness of your hand attacks:

1. Put emphasis on knowing at what range you are capable of striking from.
2. Be patient. Strike when the target is in range and presents itself.
3. Spend time understanding angles and utilizing the hands in efficient and typically direct ways.
4. Utilize "masking" to hide your hand attacks. One way to mask, for instance, is to strike with one hand to draw a defense, but actually intend to strike with the second attack or follow-up attack.
5. Let your hands lead your body and then your feet.
6. Keep loose and relaxed, relying on "fast" twitch muscles to make your attacks explosive.
7. To add additional power to your attack, make whip-like energy through the use of the wrist.

1. Don't wind up to create power. Use your hands to "zone" areas of the attacker so they are ready to attack when openings become available. "Winding up" will just let the attacker know you're about to attack.
2. Don't grimace or make facial expressions.
3. Don't shift your weight to prepare for the attack. Try to move from good position to good position so you are ready more often.
4. If possible, don't utilize your feet as a means of propelling your hands. Let your hands be the first to leave and feet propel forward to keep your hands moving.
5. It's not the best method to put all of your hope in a single strike. Think "langkah dari batu ke batu."


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