Don’t Dangle Your Arms

In kata and during drills, you can spot the dangling arm of a beginning student. After a decent punch, the arm just flounders next to the body. A beginner “forgets” about their left arm once their mind moves on to the right arm. They forget the most important element of striking – Chamber your punches.

Don’t dangle your arms about. Put them somewhere effective and useful. Successive punches require the piston action of recoil and strike from opposite arms. Think of the arms as a connected piece of rope. When one goes out, the other side must pull in. Don’t just pull in to a position close to the body. Make sure it is in the elbow position for maximum efficiency.

Kata practice reveals the untrained arm the most. You need to remember the next kick or punch, how to turn and where to strike. There are a lot of things to remember when you practice Kempo but each action has its place in the building blocks of an effective weapon. An arm left unattended is not effective. It is not in a position for use when needed.

It is normal to do this. The mind is attempting to coordinate a lot of moving parts, something it hasn’t done. This is the difference between a beginner and someone more experienced. The mind is capable of handling all the inputs. It just needs time to work out the procedure and the awareness of limbs when not the focus of a task.

When you are not aware of where each part of your body is, you are sacrificing your defenses and preparedness. Put things in a position for a reason. This mental awareness of your body helps keep the mind focused on what it needs to do. It also allows the mind to focus on where the opponent’s body is in relation to your own. You’re not just concerned about where your body parts are, you must also know where the opponent’s body parts are.

The mind is making thousands of calculations a second to process its place in three dimensions, moving and responding to an attack. All the limbs need to check in with central command and be prepared to deploy to a new front at a moment’s notice. I like to think of my body as an army, moving pieces where they are most effective.

Just like an army, the mind needs to train with the body to shake out any miscommunications. It needs to hone its ability to keep tabs on what every part is doing while moving it the environment. This follows the famous triad of martial arts thought – uniting the body, mind and spirit.

Dangling an arm allows your opponent to snatch it as a lever or as an opening for their next attack. I’ve talked about levers before and they are the keys to controlling an opponent. Don’t give your opponent that kind of gift to use against you. Shore up your defenses and maintain body awareness. And don’t dangle.