3 Letters with video responses

16 May 2007 Three letters with responses on You Tube

NB The letters below are addressed in a series of You Tube posts. The posts are titled ‘Letters Reply May 2007’ and numbered in order. There is a large amount of footage–I’m guessing close to two hours in all–and the questions are addressed with Steve’s typical ‘spider mind’ approach. So it’s worthwhile to look at all the footage, in order, because he circles back to things in different ways. (TS)

(With some of the clips, the sound got a little bit out of sync, but it doesn’t interfere with being able to understand the material)

Letter One–rooting, figure eights in power development

I know that earlier on your letters page you talked about relaxation in response to a question – and it seemed that going down the path of seeking relaxation is a misnomer. You also mention and show exercises in some of your videos which are designed to bring the hips and waist into the movements (so adding power and using the whole body) – one in particular that I remember is the figure of 8’s with the arms quite straight whilst holding light weights – and it seems that when i do this exercise the waist/hips are also doing a figure of 8 (an “internal” figure of 8?). These figure of 8’s seem to run through all the Chinese systems.

What I have noticed is that some systems seem to start with these movements in the arms whist some (Tai Chi) seem to start with the movements in the waist so that the hips seem to be making the figure of 8’s and these guys seem to stress the arms themselves being totally relaxed – these two different approaches then seem to work back from each other with the Tai Chi people gradually moving the movement (so to speak) to the extremities and the Fujian/Shaolin styles gradually using less isolatory movement and bringing in the hips – particularly as many if not all the movemnets are based on holding and using a weapon.

They both seem to put different emphasis on relaxation – some of the Fujian systems (Five Ancestors) seem to stress that the arms themselves are almost not responsible for the movement but that it all comes from the waist/hips – I guess rather like the waist being the handle of the whip and the hand holding the whip being the feet. At the end of movements (i.e the hit) the fist is tensed – am I right in thinking that the difference between the relaxation before the strike and the tense on the strike (the greater the difference) as well as the movement coming from the hips/waist is key to the power of the strike?

I am trying to think what other questions/thoughts I have! Oh yes! Rooting! It seems to me that the kung fu styles root as they are doing everything in consideration of holding weapons so they may need a stable root (or to momentarily hit a stance) when they use their weaponry – this it seems to me is then transferred into their empty hand movements. I know you mention bracing in your videos – as in against taking a leg shot – but do you see any merit in rooting training – or is that type of training only if you are hitting those stances of kung fu/tai chi in your takedowns (the twisting of the tree root you also mention)?

–Lee Ferguson

Letter Two — hikite, oscillation

Three things you said have been very useful – always looking for plyometric movements; oscillations; axis. I was getting a bit stuck on the axis, getting too Mata about it. I’m thinking of the axis as fluid not
fixed and is only temporary. Similar to how stances are only fleetingly adopted. As you switch from posting foot to foot it changes, obviously, but also it changes as the head moves during the striking motion. That’s assuming I’m getting it right of course. In the round kick action the head moves from over the supporting foot when directing the kick up, as the head shifts backwards. So its like the body swings the leg out from the posted axis, then head directs it up. Is that correct?

The oscillations are in effect lots of plyometric contractions; dog shaking off water. So oscillations at peripheral joints can be used to ‘shake’ off a grip, or in conjunction with core oscillations to work an
opening in a clinch or whatever. Yes?

Also I’m sure you mentioned in Chatham that the hikete arm should have a plyometric action at initiation, to assist the striking arm with a similar action in the striking arm. Would it therefore follow that a plyometric
action should be apparent at other segments of the action? I am assumingit would. The word oscillation then becomes apt. Therefore we could oscillate in the hikete arm resulting in plyometric contraction out and in, i.e a fast stretch to cause the pre-stretch, if you get me. The same could occur at the striking limb.

I think I know what I’m going on about, not sure if I’m getting it across in writing.

And these oscillations work on the axis to initiate movement for strikes. Then, in theory, its possible to ‘startle’ to power on impact. That’s the idea is it not?

When in a clinch, presumably, the weight is central, like sanchin stance, arms at an angle ‘framed’ to prevent collapse. Then its possible to post the head and use oscillations to dominate the bad bloke. Centralising the
balance, if pulling down the head, say. I noticed Couture shifting his head from foot to foot in the recent Sylvia fight, and throwing ‘bombs’ from these positions. The movement confused Sylvia also.

Am I on the right lines with all of this?

–Jon Law

Letter Three — putting in the tendon

I think I read or heard you mention on the site or a dvd  that you were at a certain point concentrating in putting in the tendon with your punches. This ties in with what you are saying about the spindle  and tension if I understand this correctly (which I think I  do ,but I have a problem with making myself understood or putting what I know into words!!)

Is it possible to train the tendons and make them more reactive or increase the tension through physical movement; i.e. with the light dumbells for punching? Are there other ways of doing this?

–Paul Stanford

Get the video answers to these questions:

Part one click here

Part two click here

Part three click here

Part four click here

Part five click here

Part six click here

Part seven click here

Part eight click here