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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Links and Chains

This is a thought process that got started when I was trying to think of how to describe some of the drills I'm planning at presenting at an upcoming seminar.

Essentially, I was trying to figure out a way to describe how to build combinations. Not in terms of individual strikes (jab, cross, etc.), but in terms of broader principles. While I've talked about this in some classes at Sityodtong before, I always found that I didn't have the language to describe what I was talking about. Now, I think I have something. This is me thinking aloud.

So far, the model is designed for kickboxing systems. I don't know if it makes sense for a weapons-based system (Maija?). It doesn't seem to make sense for grappling, but maybe I'm missing something.

I started from the premise that combinations are essentially strings of movements chained together. The word "chain" got something going in my head, and that lead to the rest of the model.

Knots, Links, and Chains

Four Knots

In Intervention, Dan John talks about the concept of the "four knots", a term he apparently got from Mark Cheng, who (I think) took it from a Chinese Martial Arts system. The four knots are the hips and shoulders, and those are the points from which just about every strike in Muay Thai (or most kickboxing systems) originates from. Yes, you're hitting with your fist or elbow or forearm, but if you go back down the movement chain, it's either a hip or a shoulder. In other words, a jab and a lead elbow both originate ( or at least, are tied into) the lead shoulder. A rear knee and rear kick, regardless of targeting, originate at the rear hip.

[Yes, that doesn't cover head butts, biting, and possibly some other esoteric movements I'm missing.  Like I said, kickboxing model.]

Six Links

If you start drawing connections between the four knots, you end up with a total of six ways in which those points can be connected. This looks like a box with an X through it, or the bottom part of a kid's
drawing of a barn. It's possible to move in two directions on these links, which gives you a total of twelve possible directions of movement. Again, at each point, you could be using a punch, elbow, or whatever, but that gets into a greater degree of complexity than I wanted at this stage of the model.

The first two links are horizontal lines
Link 1: Shoulder to Shoulder

This is the classic "one-two" (Jab/Cross) punch. Or, if you go the other way, the somewhat less classic "two-three" (Cross/Hook).

Link 2: Hip to Hip

This could be a leg kick followed by a switch kick, or an inside leg kick followed by a body kick.

The next two links are vertical lines

Link 3: Lead Shoulder to Lead Hip

The Jab/Teep is the classic example here. Or the switch knee followed by the lead elbow, if you're going the other direction.

Link 4: Rear Shoulder to Rear Hip

Cross/Leg Kick. This is a big power movement. The rear knee followed by the rear elbow makes sense as well.

The last two links are diagonal lines.

Link 5: Lead Shoulder to Rear Hip

Jab/Leg kick. A pretty common set up. Rear knee/Lead Elbow for the other direction.

Link 6: Rear Shoulder to Lead Hip

Cross/Switch Kick. Again, something pretty common, especially with "Dutchy" style fighters. Switch Knee/Rear Elbow is this link as well.

Chains (Combinations)

Most combinations are built by tying two or three of these links together in sequence. For instance, the Jab/Cross/Rear Kick combination is a movement from Link 1 (Shoulder to Shoulder) to Link 4 (Rear Shoulder to Rear Hip). The Rear Shoulder here is the connection point between the two links.

You can keep going with this, of course. I started writing it all out on the initial notes I made on this idea, but I'm not sure that actually writing them all out is useful or necessary. Maybe it is.

Interesting note: connecting parallel links (1 and 2 or 3 and 4) always takes you through another link to get there (Jab/Cross/Rear Kick/Front Teep is Link 1+ 2,but you have to go through Link 4 on the way).

What's the Point of All of This?

Is all of this valuable? I have no idea. I don't necessarily expect to see coaches in fights years from now yelling "Link one to link five!". Hell, I don't expect myself to be doing that. This is mostly just a model I needed to figure out how to explain some things we do, and to clarify some thinking on a couple of things. I think it will help me explain this set of drills we have more clearly, and it may inspire a bit of creativity on my part.  As always, I'd love feedback.

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