Thoughts: The Whole Body and the Body Center

In Tae Kwon Do we use the whole body. What does whole body mean? Different techniques use different body parts. Name a part of the body, and we probably have a technique that uses it. Some parts are good for attacks, some for blocks, and some for targets.

Yet there is another way to interpret use of the whole body . Every technique uses the whole body. A punch that delivers the force of one arm simply bounces off. To be effective, a punch should deliver the power and momentum of the whole body. An arm in isolation cannot divert a strong attack, yet we parry kicking attacks all the time. The whole body, used in concert, is both an overpowering offense and defense.

How can we harness the potential of the whole body and focus it to a point? Consider the premiere technique of Tae Kwon Do -- the side kick. To deliver a focused side kick, we use our arms, legs, and hips, as well as the rest of the body. The use of the hips, or more specifically the body center is an important aspect of using the whole body.

In Eastern philosophies, the physical center of the body, located about one inch below the naval, is also the spiritual center. In Tae Kwon Do, its use is crucial to successful technique.

The center is the only part of the body with no symmetric opposite. Hands oppose feet, and left balances right. We take advantage of this symmetry in executing counter motion, another aspect of using the whole body. When the center moves however, the motion must be perfect, for we cannot compensate with another body part. The motion of the center is the motion of the whole body in a very real sense; they are inseparable. When we use the whole body we cannot avoid using the center.

The center of the body is the source of our power. Punches start from the hips; rising arm blocks and double arm blocks start in the middle; and side kicks chamber at the waist before exploding towards their targets. We move in to provide momentum, and we rotate to supply turning energy. We must learn how our center can be used to develop and deliver strong techniques.

Steve Heller, circa 1985

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