In Search of Efficiency – Part Nine: Rotation

Rotation particularly spiral rotation is an effective principle to add in all things. Rotation moves the centre and generates power. Movement and power.

Rotation is a movement of the body and when actions are done with the body they are done with mass. Power generation is based on a number of things and the application of mass is one of them. Applied mass is another but that will be for another post. Spiral rotation, when done correctly adds in additional factors such as the use of gravity and shearing. Both of these will also be handled in separate posts, but they do contribute to the increase of effectiveness of a spiral rotation over a horizontal one.

A lot of Karate uses rotating the hips, as do other systems of striking. This horizonal rotation can be accomplished by pivoting the feet and nothing wrong with this method, in fact, because it is quick to be achieved I use this rotation in my Knife defence book, “Watch Out for the Pointy End.”

A rotation that is not only horizontal but vertical creates the spiral and is done using the thigh to hip joint – the qua as well as the ankles. This action is a spiral and has a deeper greater effect than the horizontal.

One way to accomplish this spiral action is the “one knee down – one knee up” action. If you can visualize a play ground toy – the teetertotter then you can begin to see the actions of the knees required to create a spiral rotation.

A teetertotter has a plank set on a fulcrum. Kids sit on each end of this plank and gravity pulls the heavier side down and, because it is connected, the other side goes up. Usually the child on the side going down catches the drop on their legs, engages their tendons and bounces back up and the other side goes down. One side up and one side down.

Now let us just alter this slightly and make the connection at the fulcrum not the usual locked one but one that allows the plank to pivot to one side and back as it goes up and down.

Here is a visual of the action of the pivoting teetertotter:

Now let’s replace that teetertotter with your body.

Your pelvis area is the brace or fulcrum.

Your legs are the plank and your knees are the ends of the plank.

For proper structure and balance (other principles) your knees should remain over their brace = foot.

When the knee goes down it moves forward over the big toe of its base foot.

When the knee goes up it moves back sinking into the heel.

Releasing the muscles of the leg will allow gravity to pull the knee down over the big toe and as it drops you allow the tendons to engage and bounce back up letting the other knee drop.

This one knee down and one knee up creates not only a rotation but a spiral as well. This adds to the power you can generate.

Rotation and spirals enhance any action, look for where they can be applied.