Combat Sports: The Physics of Striking

Boxing has been called the sweet science for hundreds of years. It has a lineage that stretches from ancient Ethiopia all the way to the advent of MMA. In studying boxing, the student will explore mathematics, geometry but most important physics.

It is the mastery of physics that gives birth to the George Forman’s, Mike Tyson’s and Jack Johnson’s of boxing knockout fame. The understanding and application of these physical laws efficiently transfer energy into your opponent whenever you make contact. There are two laws that we will review in this article.

Energy is neither gained nor lost

Energy is neither gain nor lost it is only transferred, is an important principle to every fighter that specializes in striking. The concept of power that I teach is very simple but once you understand it you will amplify your striking ability.

Most instructors teach their students that we as human beings generate power. We were taught to plant our feet and rotate our hips when striking to get the optimum strike but there are some questions that bear witness that this is not entirely correct.

A mathematical formula speed x mass = power is most often used to express energy, but it doesn’t explain a 150 lbs. man breaking a thousand-pound block of ice. In any fighter there are intangibles even though our construction is basically the same.

If we learn to develop our foundation based on our commonality, we can shorten our training time to proficiency.

Our philosophy is simple, every strike should be undertaken with a higher success potential with a goal of transferring your energy into that of your opponent.

Every time your attack is unsuccessful there is a physical cost to be paid as that attempt to express energy is assimilated back into your own body, which triggers bio/physiological response and hastens fatigue. Consider this, a professional baseball pitcher must align his body into position and coordinate his movement to throw a ball at 125 mph but each time he throws the ball afterward it is at a lower velocity.

An object in motion

An object in motion stays mainly in motion is another law that is important to the striker. It dictates that the most energy expended by the fighter will be used just to initiate the attack. The good part of the equation is that after it is initiated it is easier to redirect and flow from one attack to another. The development of this flow will make the fighter more energy efficient and delay fatigue.

The use of good geometry principles assists the fighter in using the least amount of energy to achieve a higher level of output. In Cuatro Rincones (four corners) there is a formula that guarantees good combative geometry. Cuatro Rincones dictates several absolutes of the human body (hips and shoulders) that can’t be violated by any human beings.

It works like this

The shoulders and hips move around a straight line (spine) and they are sympathetic, they are designed to work together. A push on your left shoulder will correspond to the forward movement of your right hip. In addition, if you pull on the right shoulder it will correspond to the rearward movement of your left hip, this is the same when attacking the hips as the initiator. This gives the well-trained fighter the ability to both dictate and predict movement in the other fighter.

It is more efficient to counter a lead right with a knee to the right hip because it interrupts the natural progression of the attack and causes your opponent to absorb more energy for two reasons. One – they are coming towards you, and second – a strike to the right hip triggers the involuntary response of the left shoulder.

This “disorder” based on the attempted violation of this absolute causes your opponent to not only absorb the energy of your strike but to re-absorb the energy of their own strike. This condition amplifies the effects of your attack while minimizing your output.

Understanding how this geometry physical law+ movement= result contributes to the outcome is important. It is this understanding that leads the fighter to use the most efficient attack based on a combination of movement and geometry.

The use of scientific theory levels the training playing field. It guarantees that both the instructor and the student will have concrete achievable goals. You will find that abilities will be expedited in the earliest stages and in the latter stages the variables of the individual’s biology.

The nucleus

I have introduced the “nucleus” into my combat philosophy of 7 Elements Rekibo to promote this type of training. Using the principles of mathematics, we use the least common denominator to introduce the student to the foundation of his/her training.

The nucleus is as simple as a computers binary code and displays its same level of complexity. To understand the nucleus, we start with the Hands.

The hands start with two primary positions (open and closed). It then moves on to attack or defend. It attacks or defends based on the nucleus of movement which is circular or linear. The nucleus of direction is from below or from above.

When the fighter is trained this way, he/she comes to strip away all the semantics from an attack.

A hook is always a circular attack no matter what you do to camouflage it. If you spin three times and roll before you do it is of no concern, it hasn’t changed. This scientific approach allows the fighter to effectively counter attacks by having a true understanding of what they are.

A straight punch is countered with circular movement and circular attack. It will effectively remove you from the line of attack and allow you to use your superior geometry to strike with penetrating power. It is this transfer of energy that will cause your knockout ratio to increase.

Until next time fight smarter, fight better.