The law of alignment states that ‘we must use our resources in the right order to maximise force, optimise effort and minimise risk’ The law of alignment is a sub law of the law of leverage and is a system we use to maximum the force we can generate in our techniques whilst still using the minimum of energy and risk to ourselves.
As I have mentioned before, in combat and life we must optimise and conserve our energy because we don’t know when the task will be completed and if we use up all our energy by using it inefficiently we will burn out and be unable to finish.
I am sure we have all at some time worked so hard that we have burned out and we can imagine the archetypal hard working executive who burns out and goes into a physical and mental breakdown through working too hard for too long. This is because they have gone too fast for too long and completely depleted their energy reserves. Like running a marathon you have to jog it, if you try to sprint it you won’t last long, pacing yourself, carefully using your resources and applying good leverage will get you further for less effort.
In order to complete a task we must utilise the most leverage we can and understanding the law of alignment will ensure that we do this more effectively.
Proper alignment maximises our leverage, increasing the force that we can apply to any given task. Alignment is about efficient and economic movement which is necessary in most tasks but acutely so in combat. To take a combat example we can consider a kick, say a side kick, which uses a thrusting action to stamp out sideways at ones opponent. To maximise our leverage we must align the key weight carriers of our body and this requires a mobilisation of certain major body parts involved in the kick. These are the foot, hip, shoulders, hip and foot and when the kick is performed it will carry the most force if these 5 points are positioned in such a way as to create a straight line between them.
In effect if you imagine looking at the kicker from a birds eye view these 5 points would create, not a completely straight line because the body is not built that way, but the closest thing to a straight line our angular bodies can make. This ensures that as much of our weight as possible is utilised in creating the force and momentum necessary to deliver an effective kick. However, if we perform the kick without correct alignment i.e. by sticking out our backsides or without enough hip rotation the kick though it can still land will lose much of its speed and force plus the follow up technique will also very likely be marred.
The same happens in punches, strikes, lifts and throws and when performed correctly aligned techniques will maximise the force applied whilst reducing the energy consumed. Another martial arts example would be the delivery of the ‘right cross’
The alignment of key parts of the body that mobilise together to create as straight a line as possible from the fist through the shoulder, hip, knee and foot and therefore utilise the maximum body weight behind the punch. This alignment added to the forward momentum and speed of the technique creates the knockout potential
Looking from the side, alignment is also essential from the right shoulder to the left foot. If the shoulder goes in front of the front foot balance is compromised, conversely if the foot is in front of the shoulder then distance and leverage is compromised.
Alignment is also essential from shoulder to foot in the frontal view. Imagine the punch coming toward you. Correct alignment should create a straight line from the right shoulder to the right foot. The line created is unlikely to create a true vertical line but the key point is the direct straight line from shoulder, through the hip and knee to rear foot.
In this example you can see the alignment is 3 dimensional: front to back, top to bottom front view and top to bottom side view. By combining all 3 alignments we can create the maximum leverage and thereby the optimum force. Combining this with the other four components of distance, balance, timing and speed will create a powerful technique.
In life the closer we align our goals, efforts and resources the more effectively we complete each task. A simple example might be moving home where we recruit friends and family to assist with the moving of boxes and furniture all aligned to the same end result. The closer the team works together the faster and more efficiently the task is accomplished.
When we set our personal goals we achieve them better if we use our leverage intelligently such as money, manpower etc and align these resources in the correct order will put more weight behind our intention to achieve a positive outcome.
Consider how you use alignment in your life, how do you put your resources to work? What leverage can you bring to bear on any problem or challenge that you have?
In your martial arts training you should work to maximise your body alignment and leverage to increase the force generated by your techniques. N o matter how light you are, proper alignment will create potentially massive force if you use properly.
Thank you for reading today and I look forward to speaking to you again soon
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