Heuristics for Martial Body Mechanics:
- Joints have a preferred range of motion
- avoid hyper-extension
- Keep the motions of hinge joints within the plane of flexion/extension.
- Avoid curving your spine - bending motions should originate in the hips and the spine should be held straight and supported using your core
- Keep your tailbone tucked and your abs engaged - this positions your upper body directly over your hips
- Keep your feet (heels), hips, and shoulders aligned in a “vertical stack” (Capo Ferro is more explicit about this, but pull out a straight edge and look at how these joints line up in the plates from Giganti).
- Avoid placing your feet parallel to each other
- Keep your body relaxed
- Movements should usually push rather than pull your body forward. Similarly, do not “fling” or “throw” body parts when moving.
- Flinging the arm forward is a common error
- Movement of the whole body (e.g. footwork, lunging) should be carried out by pushing with the legs rather than by moving the center of mass and having the legs follow behind (this is an example of flinging)
- You should move the body one joint at a time sequentially rather than moving more than one body part simultaneously
- This works best with illustrations, but essentially your body and limbs comprise a series of levers. Movement of a single lever at a time defines a relatively direct path from point A to B whereas movement of a compound lever is indirect.
- Strikes should be brought to target using the body (and/or legs) - this is an extension of 7, but practically speaking, the arms should be extended first, then the body, then the legs. At the point where the arms have finished their motion, you will typically be too far away to hit your opponent, so you use your body and then legs (sequentially) to take your weapon to its target.
A pdf handout of this posting is available here.