In the beginning, the student may ask “Where does one obtain the power to create such devastating self-defence results?”. The average person uses only 10 to 20 percent of their full potential and regardless of age, size or gender, if you can apply 100 percent of your potential everyone can apply the same destruction.
The Theory of Power (Him Ui Wolli) was developed by ITF Tae Kwon-Do to explain how the power applied to a technique can be affected. Tae Kwon-Do training is fantastic for the acquisition of extraordinary stamina and strength however this isn’t the way to give maximum power into a technique. Tae Kwon-Do training will result in a high level of reaction force, concentration, equilibrium, breath control and speed – and these are the factors required to provide a high degree of physical power.
Reaction Force is the principle that as the striking technique is brought forward, other parts of the body should be brought backwards in order to provide maximum power.
According to Newton’s Law, every force has an equal and opposite force. When an automobile crashes into a wall with the force of 2,000 pounds, the wall will return a force of 2,000 pounds; or forcing the end of the seesaw down with a ton of weight will provide an upward force of the same weight. The two forces combined; his, which is large, and yours, which is small is quite impressive. Another reaction force is your own. A punch with the right fist is aided by pulling back the left fist to the hip.
Concentration is the principle of bringing as many muscles as possible to bear on a strike, concentrating the area of impact into as small an area as possible.
By applying the impact force onto the smallest target area, it will concentrate the force and therefore, increase its effect. For example, the force of water coming out of a water hose is greater if the orifice is smaller. Conversely, the weight of a man spread out on snowshoes makes hardly any impression on the snow. The blows in Tae Kwon-Do are often concentrated onto the edge of the open palm or to the crook of the fingers.
It is very important that you should not unleash all your strength at the beginning but gradually, and particularly at the point of contact with your opponent’s body, the force must be so concentrated as to give a knock-out blow. That is to say, the shorter the time for the concentration, the greater will be the power of the blow. The utmost concentration is required in order to mobilize every muscle of the body onto the smallest target area simultaneously.
Equilibrium is all about maintaining a correct centre-of-balance throughout a technique.
Balance is of utmost importance in any type of athletics. In Tae Kwon-Do, it deserves special consideration. By keeping the body always in equilibrium, that is, well balanced, a blow is more effective and deadly. Conversely, the unbalanced one is easily toppled. The stance should always be stable yet flexible, for both offensive and defensive movements.
Equilibrium is classified into both dynamic and static stability. They are so closely inter-related that the maximum force can only be produced when the static stability is maintained through dynamic stability.
To maintain good equilibrium, the centre of gravity of the stance must fall on a straight line midway between both legs when the body weight is distributed equally on both legs, or in the centre of the foot if it is necessary to concentrate the bulk of body weight on one foot. The centre of gravity can be adjusted according to body weight. Flexibility and knee spring are also important in maintaining balance for both a quick attack and instant recovery. One additional point; the heel of the rear foot should never be off the ground at the point of impact. This is not only necessary for good balance but also to produce maximum power at the point of impact.
Breath control is the idea that during a strike one should exhale, with the exhalation concluding at the moment of impact.
Controlled breathing not only affects one’s stamina and speed but can also condition a body to receive a blow and augment the power of a blow directed against an opponent. Through practice, breath stopped in the state of exhaling at the critical moment when a blow is landed against a pressure point on the body can prevent a loss of consciousness and stifle pain. A sharp exhaling of breath at the moment of impact and stopping the breath during the execution of a movement tense the abdomen to concentrate maximum effort on the delivery of the motion, while a slow inhaling helps the preparation of the next movement. An important rule to remember; Never inhale while focusing a block or blow against an opponent. Not only will this impede movement, but it will also result in a loss of power.
Students should also practice disguised breathing to conceal any outward signs of fatigue. An experienced fighter will certainly press an attack when he realizes his opponent is on the point of exhaustion. One breath is required for one movement except for a continuous motion.
Mass is the principle of bringing as much of the body to bear on a strike as possible; again using the turning kick as an example, the idea would be to rotate the hip as well as the leg during the kick in order to take advantage of the hip’s additional mass in terms of providing power to the kick.
Mathematically, the maximum kinetic energy or force is obtained from maximum body weight and speed and it is all important that the body weight be increased during the execution of a blow. No doubt the maximum body weight is applied with the motion of turning the hip. The large abdominal muscles are twisted to provide additional body momentum. Thus, the hip rotates in the same direction as that of the attacking or blocking tool as in figure F. Another way of increasing body weight is the utilization of a springing action of the knee joint. This is achieved by slightly raising the hip at the beginning of the motion and lowering the hip at the moment of impact to drop the body weight into the motion.
In summarizing, it is necessary to point out that the principles of force outlined here hold just as true today in our modern scientific and nuclear age as they did centuries ago.
The speed of execution of a technique in taekwondo is deemed to be even more important than mass in terms of providing power.
Speed is the most essential factor of force or power. Scientifically, force equals mass multiplied by acceleration (F = MA) or (P = MV2).
According to the theory of kinetic energy, every object increases its weight as well as speed in a downward movement. This very principle is applied to this particular art of self-defence. For this reason, at the moment of impact, the position of the hand normally becomes lower than the shoulder and the foot lower than the hip while the body is in the air.
Reaction force, breath, control, equilibrium, concentration, and relaxation of the muscles cannot be ignored. However, these are the factors that contribute to the speed and all these factors, together with flexible and rhythmic movements, must be well coordinated to produce the maximum power in Tae Kwon-Do.