Power Applied on Return
So I learned about this very interesting concept from Gavin yesterday on the Armor Archive. I’m going to share his explanation:
When you throw a standard flat snap, everything begins with your hip abductors. There’s a discrete impetus that initiates the strike. Your torso turns, your legs begin to drive, eventually your shoulder, which lags behind the hip initially, comes forward (much of the “snap” really happens right there, as your shoulder makes up for lost time and passes your hip). In Paul’s school, the sword effectively goes ballistic as the shoulder comes forward and the arm and sword swing toward the target. Personally, I have another element to the equation, in that I close my hand, hard, to add a bit more acceleration aid in power transmission and make the strike “stick”.
All of that just to get to the return . And here is where it gets interesting. You need to recover your sword. You want to do that as fast as possible (remember that for what we do, speed is power, to a degree). So those same hip abductors that initiated the strike initiate the recovery, you start pulling your torso back, your legs support this recovery motion, your arm really doesn’t do much but steer the path of your recovery.
Your torso has begun counter rotating and you put effort into making this action happen quickly (this is applying power on the return). A fast recovery – with drive – adds energy to your sword. When you keep the energy flowing, moving from one strike, through recovery into the next strike, you can add all of the force you put into recovery to the next strike.
One way of looking at it is our strikes are, essentially, circles. They start at a point, travel through an arc, return to the starting point. So your first strike travels roughly half the circle from starting point to target, but your next strike is beginning out there at the target. It’s going to travel the full circle. It has more opportunity for you to put energy into the strike.
It’s from the Bellatrix School of Fighting – more info here:
Now, I’ve never thought much about the return to be honest. I’ve focused more on following through with the shot – where you make sure the shot goes completely forward that you don’t stop midway and then ‘return’. But I never really thought much about the importance of the return itself. I’m guessing that is where a lot of hip action comes in to play as well. You get the return, set your hips to generate the power for the next shot.
Now what I have been doing with the return is just popping it back up and stopping. Even with my combo shots, there is a hesitation before I go into the next shot of the combo. I would bet that even a slight hesitation is what is making me lose power in those follow-up shots.
If you look at Figure 2c on the Bellatrix page – that is the point I was stopping and starting the return from there. I wasn’t letting the shot follow through like Figure 2d.
But now, I need to really make sure that I focus on the return – I have definitely been lacking there.