2.    CONCENTRATE FORCE.  Strike with a small, hard surface and hit a weak point.  
            A.  Punching with the fingers (about 4 square inches contact area) rather than just two knuckles (about ½ square inch contact area).  
            B.  Doing a side kick with the bottom of the foot (about 28 square inches contact area) rather than the edge (about 2 square inches contact area).
            C.  Doing a roundhouse or front kick with the top of the foot (about 3 9 square inches contact area) to a hard target (head, ribs) rather than the ball of the foot (about 2 square inches contact area).
            D.  Missing vulnerable areas, like the solar plexus, throat, spine, etc..
        TEACHING TIP: Have the students work on flexibility in the toes during warm-up and have them punch or kick a pad that is hard enough that they will know if they did it correctly.  I use a piece of tatami mat, which will leave fingers or toes red but not cause injury.  For precision, use increasingly small targets such as the label on a punching ball or striking pad or even a small ball thrown into the air.

TEACHING TIP: Practice straight punches without turning the hand over to get used to the feel of not flaring the elbow, then turn the fist over very late, concentrating on keeping the elbow downward.  This can be difficult because it requires practice to rotate the wrist without flaring the elbow.
    For kicks, you can hold two paddles and have the student kick just over one to strike the other or hold a soft stick or two to correct the angle of the kick as shown above.
    In all techniques, remind the students to breathe and to keep the target in the center of vision.  Looking away causes the power to dissipate, alters the balance and reduces concentration.   

       Horizontal side kick rocks 340# dummy.
    For contrast, I explain that an upward side kick
        would glance and therefore lack penetration
         so the dummy would not move.

Proper form for foot sword (side kick)                                           Ball of foot (front kick)


    Correct form for straight punch, striking with 2 knuckles.

    Effective self-defense skill is vital for personal survival.  A single stroke may determine victory or defeat, life or death. A carefully choreographed demonstration is entertaining but a small child  "defeating" several  large, strong adult attackers is showmanship, not reality.  Who would really win?  

     I have practiced the traditional Martial Arts for more than 50 years and, while I claim no special knowledge or skill, I have come to understand that the value of these Arts lies in the sincerity of its practitioners.  Learning critical self-defense skills naturally develops confidence, humility, patience, respect and the indomitable spirit that come from great personal accomplishment.  These changes permeate every aspect of your being so Martial Arts is, indeed, the human Way of Life.  Teaching ineffective techniques lacks sincerity and instills dangerous false confidence in students.  This is the worst problem in our
Martial Arts community.    

50 years later, still pursuing basics.

Having studied many methods under many teachers, I know there are various correct ways to do techniques but the principles, recognized by all legitimate teachers of traditional Martial Arts, are the same.  I teach by explaining and demonstrating the principles with the techniques and my students, who are all adults, learn very quickly because they already understand the principles and only need to learn to apply them to the Martial Arts.  I start with basics and move into more advanced principles and techniques so I have arranged this article and those that follow in the same way.
    I hope the training tips presented in this and subsequent articles help the sincere develop their skills and help the insincere become sincere.  

    Basic techniques I use to illustrate (1) keeping center of gravity back (between feet for punch, over base foot for kick), (2) late body rotation for maximum power and (3) proper alignment (elbow down for punch, knee and foot aligned for kick).  These techniques also illustrate the use of leverage which I reference briefly but actually teach later.


    I teach that effective technique must generate force, concentrate that force in a small area and deliver it effectively and I explain this during warm-up exercises and periodically throughout the workouts.  This reinforcement is effective and I explain these principles more specifically as follows: 

    1.    GENERATE FORCE. Body rotation and weight shift combine with muscular power (particularly core strength) to generate force.  The formula is “Force= Mass x Acceleration” and we increase acceleration to increase power rather than throwing our mass toward the opponent which causes a loss of balance and control.      
        A.  Throwing the body toward the opponent to alter the “mass” in the formula increases power but destroys balance, making it impossible to change directions or modify your technique and leaving you helpless in the event of a counter-
        B.  Early body rotation generates quickness in techniques but the rotational power is exhausted prior to the technique penetrating the target which is where the power is needed for effective self-defense.  
        TEACHING TIP: Have your students do a second kick, so a side kick would be followed by a hook kick (heal kick) with the same foot before placing the foot down.  To do this, it is necessary to keep the weight back.
        Concentrate on rotating your body as late as possible.

    3.  APPLY FORCE.   Strike at 90○ for maximum penetration. 
        COMMON ERRORS:  
            A.  Turning the head or looking away from the strike.  
            B.   A side kick or roundhouse kick frequently moves upward as the leg extends and a front kick often has too much upward angle.    
            C.  A straight punch often results in a flared elbow.


​                           Billings----Livingston

The author and his teacher, Grandmaster Len Seymour, practicing 50 years ago.


     1.  Kick passes between 2
            blue padded sticks
       2.  Eyes center on target
        3.  Base foot is flat, knee