Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I’ve understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick.
I heard this quote numerous times while training for my black belt and future degrees to follow. While training I never fully understood what the real meaning was. I thought that it meant the actual physics and mechanics of a traditional front punch could be utilized in multiple ways. This is true to a certain extent. Yes, you can throw a punch in many different ways for many different reasons, and get many different results. But now, as my hours as a teacher have surpassed my hours of training, I have come to realize this quote was much more revealing.
Over the years I must have shown hundreds of students how to throw a proper front punch. I’ve seen every possible way, “how not to punch”. Bent wrists, loose fingers, thumbs out, thumbs in, wrong knuckles, good rotation, bad rotation. It goes on and on. In fact after doing some crazy Sensei Nick math, my calculations tell me I’ve witnessed a KAJILLION different punches in my life. Here is how a punch became something else for me.
Through constant repetition of such a fundamental move, I began to learn about scientific principles such as torque, power, trajectory, alignment, and velocity. I’ve learned about the importance of relaxation, focus, and timing. What I find amazing about this is the fact that all of these necessary principles can and must be demonstrated to throw ONE PERFECT PUNCH. I’ve learned that a student who is engaged, happy and excited will be completely content doing 100 front punches consecutively and will learn while doing so. To quote Bruce Lee one more time, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
I truly believe that fundamentals are the foundation of excellence.