Kinaesthesis and Proprioception 3 – how to use the feeling


Once you begin to become aware of what’s happening in your body as you perform striking and moving actions as you learn or develop new skills the manner in which you attend to the learning process alters. I think of it as observing and making adjustments rather than thinking too much about the actions themselves. This is a subtle difference but a very important one, as Bruce Lee intimated, don’t think about the movement, feel it.

Elsewhere, I have mentioned the Superfrau punch, and provided a non-perfect clip. This came about by accident, but it has been a happy accident. It’s a method of snapping back at the hip, which snaps the body forward and by so doing adds significant power to a technique. When we discovered it I was able to pick up the movement pretty quickly, probably because it’s similar to other movements we do, such as the Superman punch, but also because I was able to feel it.

Next, I was immediately able to adapt or add the snapping Superfrau movement to established skills, so it can be used to drive jabs, crosses, hooks, elbow strikes etc. Since then we have used it to add power to pretty much any movement delivered from in close. It’s actually not that surprising and it probably isn’t new at all, after all it’s likely to be some form of Fa Jin anyway. Whether it is new or not is irrelevant the versatility of the Superfrau is the important bit, and this has been possible because of our developed kinaesthetic and proprioceptive perception. I don’t think that we have an exceptionally developed body awareness either, we just use what we have developed practically.

Fighting in the clinch

Fighting in the clinch

This evening we were doing some clinch work, looking at either making space to fire in knee strikes or to fire them in without making space, via Superfrau delivery, for instance. One of the students started using the Superfrau to add power to a shoulder shrug to open up the partner for strikes, this works well.

I mentioned in the first of the trilogy that heightened kinaesthetic and proprioceptive perception skills when joined to your opponent allows you to become sensitive to their movements and thereby presenting an opportunity to exploit the inevitable gaps. Again Bruce is correct, you have to feel the opportunity to use it, if you think it or watch it, it’s gone before you can use it!

Push hands etc can develop this sensitivity but it’s important to then develop these skills by using them in freer drills, otherwise you cannot be sure they will transfer to a live situation, developed sensitivity has to be applied. For example, during clinch work it is possible to feel when someone is creating the space to deliver a knee strike, if you push them at this point they cannot make the attack and depending on your push success you are set up to throw a flurry of punches*. While this could be trained for, I only discovered this through rough clinch work at Primal, it was another happy accident. By developing kinaesthetic and proprioceptive perception I believe there will be many more happy accidents.

*On similar lines, the competition fighting scenes in Enter the Dragon begin with the opponent’s arms touching. This, known as listening arm, is so they can feel their opponent’s preparatory movements and act on them.

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