By Jose R. Villanueva

As originally published on the Listen & Be Heard Weekly1, October 19, 2005.

Understanding the human body makes a significant difference when it comes to operating competently in the Martial Arts. There are specific things that will inhibit an individual from gaining the full potential of ability. If one really examines the relation between knowingness and unknowingness of body mechanics, they will discover that the lack of knowledge of the body will make it difficult to get maximum gains from stretching, strength training, and striking to vital locations.

Flexibility can only be achieved by knowing the muscles that one is stretching, the location of those muscles on the body, and what effect the muscles have when stretched for long or short duration. Understanding what can happen to a muscle when stretching is done on too high a gradient can prevent injury. An individual must be able to distinguish what is actual injury and what is soreness, so one can push through to the next level of gain.

Strengthening the muscles can be accomplished if one understands what happens to the muscles when they have been stressed. Knowing where each muscle is located, and how each group of muscle work together. When one understands how the muscles work, exercises can be created to develop strength. One must understand how fast one's body heals, so proper healing time can be given to one's body for strength to be developed. Nutrition plays a major factor, so one must understand what foods and supplements help to give the body what it needs to develop strength and perform at its optimum.

Knowing body mechanics and vital areas are necessary to the ability to apply techniques and defend oneself. When one knows where the joints and vital parts are located, techniques can be applied to those areas of the body for maximum results in any given self-defense situation. Some systems have strikes to a vital area to set up other techniques. For example, knowing where joints are located can create opportunities to do breaks or kicks. Striking to the groin or ribs and breaking the ribs will cause an attacker to bend over. Therefore, one is in a good position to strike with another technique while the attacker is bent over.

Knowing the human body gives the Martial Artist a tremendous edge over an attacker in the streets. It gives any practitioner the ability to obtain optimum gains from his training. It gives one the confidence and certainty to apply techniques with exactness and explosiveness. The lack of body knowledge will only serve to inhibit one's ability to defend oneself.