Alignment refers to the positioning of each body part from the beginning to the end of the execution of each technique. Each technique has particular starting and ending positions that maximize their effectiveness. Using the moment of impact for a lead hook as an example, there is a particular alignment that maximizes the power of the technique. The elbow should be behind the direction the punch is heading and should be on approximately the same level as the shoulder. The lead leg should be turned into a reverse bow with the heel raised and knee bent. The weight should have shifted from the lead leg to the rear leg. When all of these aspects of alignment happen with the right timing, the amount of mass that is transferred into the hook will be maximized and the amount of force created increased.
The details of alignment for the numerous techniques used in kickboxing are subtle. There are some people who seem to have a natural ability to find alignment for some techniques but every student can benefit from specific instruction in this area. Alignment needs to be thought about and purposefully executed in practice so that it becomes a habit of the body and not something that is being thought about during execution of techniques. If you have to think about how to physically perform a movement while you do it, it is not yet part of your working repertoire of techniques.
Traditionally, (in my experience) alignment is taught fairly organically by basically having students watch techniques being performed and then having them copy what they see. Small corrections are made to form as time goes on but alignment as a concept is not generally taught as much as it is understood by good teachers and created through those small corrections. At some point, students begin to exhibit proper alignment but it isn’t something that they would be able to pinpoint exactly how they manage to do. By stopping to explore alignment as a concept and purposefully implementing proper use of it in training you are giving yourself a means to train great form at a level that most practitioners do not.
Alignment is directly tied to stance, footwork, timing and distance. Having good alignment with your upper body does not help if your stance is weak. You can throw a nice foot jab and if you extend too early or too late, the kick is ineffective regardless of how nice the alignment is. It has to be timed right to be effective. Having great body alignment on your cross is pointless if you are too far to land the punch while in that alignment. You must use footwork to create the right distance for the “perfectly aligned” cross to work out.
As a concept, alignment for the basic moves should be learned early on on a cerebral level then trained into the nervous system on a physical level afterwards. By understanding it mentally first, you gain the ability to self-correct and avoid forming bad habits. The strong foundation will aid you later on when putting the basics together.
The purpose of this blog
This blog is intended as a place to discuss ideas relevant to both both martial arts and life in general. Our school doesn't exist with the sole purpose of making great fighters but also of helping its members develop themselves into great people. The entries are about sharing ideas. I will not spend much time editing grammatical errors so please try not to let it drive you crazy when you come across them!