Martial Mechanics: Maximum Results with Minimum Effort in the Practice of the Martial Arts


Interest in a wide range of martial arts grows exponentially each year, but few practitioners understand the scientific forces that underlie these arts. The originators of ancient traditional systems intuitively grasped the body mechanics behind their disciplines, and thus were capable of generating uncanny striking force. Contemporary students, on the other hand, often fail to achieve the high levels of technical proficiency they desire because they are unaware of these laws ...

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Interest in a wide range of martial arts grows exponentially each year, but few practitioners understand the scientific forces that underlie these arts. The originators of ancient traditional systems intuitively grasped the body mechanics behind their disciplines, and thus were capable of generating uncanny striking force. Contemporary students, on the other hand, often fail to achieve the high levels of technical proficiency they desire because they are unaware of these laws and how they work in a martial arts context.

Drawing on the author’s decades of experience as both student and teacher, Martial Mechanics explains, in humorous, easy-to-understand language, how physics and kinesiology affect martial arts techniques and how readers can best utilize them to make them faster, more powerful, and hence more effective in actual combat. Featuring black-and-white photographs throughout, Martial Mechanics is written for both internal and external martial artists, mixed martial arts practitioners with an interest in competition or self-defense, students of kung fu, karate, taekwondo, muay thai boxing, kickboxing, wing chun, and more. Even many of the traditional grappling arts utilize certain striking techniques, and their disciples as well can improve their percussive skills with this practical guide.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Sifu Phillip Starr presents clear-cut, easy-to-read, and convincing explanations about the how and why behind some of the most important concepts in traditional martial arts training. This book divulges valuable insights that will save you from countless hours of incorrect practice, frustration, and injury. Read it, re-read it, and then read it again! It’s that good.”
—Mark Cheng, LAc, PhD, RKC II, director and chief physician, Chung-Hua Institute and contributing editor to Black Belt magazine

“This book will enrich any martial artist’s understanding of the martial arts basics.”
—John A. Morrow, adjunct professor of Kinesiology, St. Ambrose University and 7th Level Black Sash in Shaolin Chuan Kung Fu

Martial Mechanics will make you a better martial artist...period. Using terms we all can understand and techniques you can integrate quickly, Sifu Starr gives you priceless insight into the ancient fighting arts in today’s terms. Simply put, Martial Mechanics is extraordinary!”
—Kris Wilder, author of Lessons from the Dojo Floor and Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, Kodokan Judo, and Goju-Ryu Karate

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583942116
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books
  • Publication date: 3/25/2008
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 959,754
  • Product dimensions: 6.99 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

A practitioner of the Chinese martial arts for over 50 years, Phillip Starr is the founder of Yiliquan kung-fu, an art that seamlessly merges China’s three classical internal systems. A member of the Inside Kung-Fu Hall of Fame and the author of The Making of a Butterfly, he teaches in Omaha, NE.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     xii
Foreword     xiii
Introduction     xv
The Way We Were     1
Differences     1
What's Real and What Isn't     4
Principles of Power     7
Basic Principles of Force     7
Physics and the Martial Arts     9
Measuring Force     9
Concentrated Striking Force     11
Is Bigger Better?     12
The Big Bang     15
Making an Impact     15
Target Surfaces     15
Types of Impact     16
The Need for Speed     23
The Secret of Kinetic Energy     23
Terminal Velocity     23
Longer Is Better     26
Coiling Power     28
Common Errors     29
That's Shocking!     31
Brute Force and Shock     31
Action and Reaction     32
Force, Reaction Force, and Shock     33
Common Errors     39
Striking Through the Target     41
Shorter Is Better     43
Parachutes and Punches     43
Impulse     43
The Foothold     47
TheImportance of the Foundation     47
What Is a Stance?     47
Inward Tension Stances     48
Outward Tension Stances     50
Sit Straight!     51
Overextension of Muscles and Joints     53
The Importance of Footwork     55
What Is Footwork?     55
What Is the Dantien?     56
How to Move from the Dantien     58
Common Errors     64
Moving from the Dantien in Everyday Life     64
Using the Body as a First     67
Lions and Tigers and Bears!     67
The Eight Body Actions     68
Body Rotation     69
Body Shift     72
Body Throw     74
Body Vibration     76
Body Up     78
Body Down     80
Body Circle     81
Body Whip     81
The Secrets of Breathing     83
Breathing and the Martial Arts     83
Basic Forms of Breathing     87
The Real Meaning of Balance     92
Training the Breath and Balance Together     94
The Importance of Spinal Alignment     97
Stand Up Straight!     97
Press the Head Upward     97
Tuck the Coccyx     99
Spinal Alignment and Kicking     99
Testing the Effectiveness of Spinal Alignment     100
Additional Benefits     103
Don't Isolate ... Consolidate!     107
All Persons Are Created Equal     107
Principles of Upper-Body Techniques     108
Principles of Lower-Body Techniques     116
The Fighting Stance     121
Overcoming Inertia     121
What Is a Fighting Stance?     122
Standing on a Hair Trigger     123
Moving in a Fighting Stance     124
Positioning the Upper Body     127
Fast versus Sudden     128
Fighting Stances in the Real World     128
The Mechanic's Shop     131
Putting It All Together     131
Starting from the Feet and Ankles     131
Up through the Legs     132
To the Hips and Waist     133
Up the Spine and Out through the Hands     135
Techniques in Combination     137
What Is a Combination?     137
Why a Combination?     137
Finding Combinations That Work     138
Combinations and Breathing      142
Comedy, Love, and Martial Arts     145
Borrowing the Opponent's Force     145
Using Timing to Your Advantage     145
The Advantages of Sharp Timing     147
What? Disadvantages?     148
Horizontal Strength     149
'Tis Better to Give...     149
The Third Foot     149
Displacing the Forward Stance     151
Displacing the In-Line Stance     154
Applying Horizontal Strength     155
Being Dense Is a Good Thing     157
The Importance of Density     15
What Is Density-And Why Does It Matter in Martial Arts?     157
The Psychological Effect     159
That Extra Something     161
Moving from the Inside     161
How It Works     161
Principles of Blocking     163
The Why of Blocking     163
The Key to Effective Blocking     164
Types of Blocking Techniques     167
Training Exercises and Equipment     173
Knowing Why and How     173
The Striking Post     173
The Candle     177
The Heavy Bag     180
The Balloon      181
Resistance Exercises     181
Questions and Answers     185
About the Author     191
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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2008

    Outstanding and informative

    In the old days martial arts was a serious, life-or-death business. Practitioners spent years of tedious, agonizing practice perfecting every single stance and mastering each and every application because they knew without any doubt that the slightest mistake they might make in combat could be their last. Martial techniques and styles that survived these tumultuous times were battle-tested, powerful, and highly effective. In modern days, however, martial arts have become more of a hobby than a profession for most practitioners. Mortal conflicts are rare, so the focus has shifted away from traditional training toward other aspects such as sports, fitness, and spiritual enlightenment. Don¿t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with filling your shelves with trophies or decorating your walls with medals, but the challenge is that the emphasis on competitive sports has diluted the utility of many martial arts when it comes to self-protection on the street. And that is where this wonderful book comes in. Martial Mechanics is a very well-written, interesting, and informative tome that articulates the essential nuances that can separate ¿heavy hitters¿ who can truly put the hurt on someone from hordes of mundane practitioners who unknowingly learn ineffective and/or suboptimal technique. After all, hitting an opponent in the MMA ring with a taped wrist and padded glove is quite different than striking an adversary with a bare fist on the street. Even former Heavyweight Boxing Champion Mike Tyson, a guy who clearly knows how to punch ferociously, broke his hand in a street brawl when he hit fellow boxer Mitch Green incorrectly in August of 1988. This book is an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to hit faster and more powerfully. Contents include principles of power, impact, speed, force, shock, impulse, stance, footwork, body rotation, body shift, breathing, spinal alignment, consolidation, overcoming inertia, combinations, density, and a whole lot more. Both hard (external) and soft (internal) dimensions are covered. The supplemental drills, such as learning how to use a candle, balloon, forging post, and heavy bag to augment your training, are a nice bonus as well. The author¿s writing is absolutely stellar, highly articulate yet pithy and unpretentious. There are no fancy foreign words to memorize or pointless pontificating to wade through. In fact, the tone is fantastic, with subtle and not-so-subtle humor throughout. The photos and illustrations are very clear, augmenting the text effectively. The book really is that good. In fact my only complaint is that there is no index to help me refer back to important topics quickly and easily. Consequently my copy is already crammed full of sticky notes and defaced with scribble-notes and highlighting. At risk of sounding passé, Martial Mechanics really is a must read for any serious martial artist, particularly those who study predominantly striking arts such as kung fu, karate, taekwondo, muay Thai, or kickboxing. So why should you listen to this Phillip Starr guy anyway? A practitioner with more than 50 continuous years of martial arts training, Sifu Starr is the founder of Yiliquan kung-fu, an art that seamlessly merges China¿s three classical internal systems. He has trained not only in the Chinese arts of baixingquan, taijiquan, xingyiquan, and baguazhang, but also in Japanese judo, Kyokushin, and Shito-ryu karate, and Filipino Pekiti-Tersia arnis. He is also a member of Inside Kung-Fu magazine¿s prestigious Hall of Fame. Clearly Sifu Starr has the knowledge, skills, and ability to articulate this important information very effectively. Lawrence A. Kane Author of Surviving Armed Assaults and Martial Arts Instruction co-author of The Way of Kata and The Way of Black Belt

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