One of the martial arts services I've offered for quite some time now and quite successfully, I might add, is to analyze someone's strike, whether the person is a martial artist or not, and increase the person's striking power 50% to 100% in one lesson or in one video tape. When I was helping with a small section in a martial arts book, I made a list of common mistakes in a few techniques. Some of these and others are in that martial arts book. he's an excellent well known author and I recommend any of his material highly.
If a shoulder leads a hip you're losing power in your kick or punch. By this I mean if you learn forward over your bases of support, the tendency is to lock your knee out thus inhibiting any possible hip movement into the strike.
If the arm on the same side of the body you are kicking with moves in the opposite direction of a kick, you are losing power in your kick by disallowing upper torso rotation.
If you move in the opposite direction you are striking you are losing power.
The more tagonistic muscles (muscles which aid in a movement) you involve with the strike the more powerful your strike will be. P(Power)=change in KE/change in time KE=kinetic energy. KE=1/2M(mass)V(velocity)^2. The choice now becomes to increase the mass or body weight of the strike, which can be done with several thousand Big Macs or proper coordination of the existing mass, or too increase the speed of the strike. In other words you can use the mass or your arm or the mass of your body for striking.
Proper coordination, timing of gross and fine muscle movements, is necessary for an optimal power level.
The center of gravity falls closest to the hips in relation to our nearest moveable joints. If a strike does not involve the greatest possible range of motion with the hips you are not getting the most amount of power you can be from your strike.
The greater the distance of a motion the greater the chance for acceleration: Thus the windup of a pitch or the chambering of a punch (see my article on increasing the power of the reverse punch at http://tutor.hypermart.net/martalarts_ezine6199.htm). This must obviously be tempered with economy of motion to insure the strike hits it's mark as well as focus to insure you have a mark or target. This is basically, despite economy of motion, why a right handed boxer for example fights with his right hand furthest from his opponent or what is known as an orthodox stance.
In over 27 years of martial arts, I have seen many mistakes. These are some of the most common mistakes I have seen and corrected.
Allowing the elbow to rise above the fist or away from the body preventing upper gross muscle involvement. Have the student push against your hands with the elbow out and the student's hand on his or her chest. The student will not be able to extent his or her arm. Now have the student execute this demonstration with his or her elbow in such as a chambered position for a punch. The student will be able to extend his or her arm out by utilizing the hips and legs as well as the triceps.
Locking the front knee as you strike inhibiting hip motion. I see this a lot. Having the student push against the object and push the hips into it will help correct this problem.
Keeping the rear foot flat at the end of the strike hindering full rotational movement of the hips.
Pointing your front toe in inhibiting full hip rotation. I corrected a third degree black belt on this problem and increased his punching power by approximately 30%.
Allowing the arm to swing in an arc as opposed to straight while rotating the hips. However, please view the link on increasing the power of your hooking punch to see the difference in technique when the elbow is supposed to be away from the body
Having one foot in front of the other hindering full rotational hip movement.
Not pivoting on the front foot to allow hip rotation.
Swinging the arm on the same side as the kicking leg backwards inhibiting upper torso rotation and complete hip rotation into the kick.
Not pivoting the feet or stepping into the punch with the opposite side foot of the punch.
Sensei J. Richard Kirkham is a 27 year martial art veteran. He is a dual certified teacher with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Physical Education with a background in Special Education, Exercise Physiology, Movement Education, and Behavioral Modification. He is presently an in home tutor, self-defense instructor, and body guard. Mr. Kirkham is presently teaching in Honolulu Hawaii.He can be reached at 808-528-5775 Ext. 5, firstname.lastname@example.org, and http://tutor.hypermart.net. He has one challenge which has yet to fail him, he can increase anyone's striking power 50% to 100% in one lesson. For those who cannot see him in person, he offers the same service with others on affordable custom video tapes. Sensei Kirkham has the unique service of offering in home classes so that people may learn self-defense in the privacy of their home without worrying about travel after a hard day's work.