Body Mechanics and Martial Arts

This past week I wrote a post about posture and my journey to build it in myself. How we hold, carry, and move our bodies is essential to our practice as martial artists in two ways:

  • Effective Martial Arts Requires Effective Mechanics
    The heart of martial arts is body mechanics. Every technique you can perform is enhanced or diminished by the way you move and stand.
  • Martial Arts Can Help Us Become Healthy Movers
    The heart of our physical life is body mechanics and martial arts give us a vehicle for examining and conditioning those mechanics to create long-term health.

In spite of these two assertions, it is also possible to achieve results in martial arts with mechanical faults and destroy not only our quality of movement but also the good health of our joints and body as a whole. I have met many former olympic athletes who achieved high quality results in their physical endeavours and destroyed their bodies in the process.

What this means is that if your goals in martial arts stretch beyond immediate performance to your long-term health and well-being – and I hope they do – you should make the “how” of movement an essential part of your training (and teaching). Here are a few steps to get you started:

  • Learn about body mechanics and healthy movement.
    I recommend as a place to start. Also, read my post from last week to learn about my own journey with posture.
  • Take a body mechanics workshop relevant to your discipline.
    In our area of martial arts I teach them, and I have also watched courses delivered by Sean Hayes, Guy Windsor, and David McCormick that I thought were very good.
  • Visit a physiotherapist.
    These visits can be both therapeutic and educational. There are many health professionals in your neighbourhood who can help you beyond your immediate physical ills.
  • Learn to lift.
    Lifting weights or kettlebells and performing other activities that require power generation emphasize (when taught correctly) proper body alignment and mechanics. This can be a great place to both learn about alignment and build the strength to maintain it – not just when you’re at the gym, but also when you’re performing everyday activities, such as walking down the street.

Use martial arts as a means to look after your body and live a healthy life. Then you will truly benefit from this journey for a long time.

Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
Read more from Devon Boorman.