Summed up, fighting is about mastering the Kill Zone.
I define The Kill Zone as the place where you are able to deliver your maximum effectiveness (greatest impact force/accuracy with least effort) into your target. Of course, it is also about insuring you stay outside the kill zone of your opponent.
First of all, to do both requires good footwork. Mobility is key in order to get into good position and stay out of your opponent's good position. In FMA, this footwork tends to be triangular in nature, moving us on unexpected/uncomfortable lines for our opponent and putting us closer to the target, which gives us more attacking options. Staying in motion also minimizes our opponent's chance to prepare a good attack by continuing to move us away from their kill zone and into our own. Generally speaking, good fighting footwork always seeks to gain the back of the opponent since this is usually the safest place for us to be when we attack. This is another key reason for our triangle footwork. Avoiding your opponent's kill zone is generally a function of seizing and keeping the initiative through sudden aggressiveness, since this pressure forces the opponent to react instead of initiate. As Guro Fred often points out "Fight on YOUR terms".
Second is ranging/distancing. This means that while moving we try to get in a favorable distance for us and stay in an unfavorable distance for our opponent. Our favorable distance is where we are able to generate striking power (greatest rotation of hips/shoulders/spine and extension of arm/leg) . We know that our body generates the greatest power when we are able to engage the large muscle groups of our lower back/core/hips and transfer that power through our shoulders into the arm or into the feet via the leg when kicking. As good examples, check a proper golf swing or baseball/rugby swing. For kicking, Muay Thai has excellent body mechanics, often using the shoulders and arms to counterbalance and generate additional power from torque.
Efficient techniques rely on the back/core/hips for power and use centrifugal force to increase power. Many techniques involving takedowns and follow ups on the ground also use gravity to increase force and lessen dissipation since an opponent cannot back away and dissipate impact force when lying prone. As well, throwing techniques and sweeps have similar body mechanics (rotation/extension) but use the environment (floors/walls) for impact.
I often observe students being too close when they try to hit, limiting their ability to generate power. Particularly in kickboxing/boxing when we have gloves and pads on, it is important to have proper range so that proper body mechanics can become part of the muscle memory through repetition. Thrown properly, any single hit should end the encounter. In FMA, we further increase the odds by throwing multiple hits in combination.
It goes without saying that different hits have different ranges (elbows versus roundhouse kicks, for example), as do various weapons of different lengths and configurations. However, the use of hip and shoulder rotation plus extension is universal and students should consider how this is done in every technique they learn. Of course, we all have different bodies and taller/shorter people with longer/shorter arms and legs must necessarily adjust distance and angle to yield the best application of personal force for each attack. Sometimes this involves actively moving the opponent to a different angle or range. In FMA we often do this using our checking hand to push/pull/redirect their energy, which also tends to disrupt their balance and structure.
As we gain more knowledge and experience, we see more options for each position/range the opponent is in. We can then look for the most efficient attack to deliver in each moment, with the least preparation/effort to deliver. Thus, a skilled fighter has more potential attacks that can be used at any range and angle than a beginner. In Kali Majapahit, we master a variety of different strikes and kicks at all angles and directions to give us the best chance of having a ready solution to any situation we encounter.
Lastly, as I have said to my students many times, we want to deliver the best weapon (usually the smallest hardest surface area) against the best target (usually the softest, weakest area) of our opponent. Likewise, we want to take away structure and balance at all times and keep our opponent from ever regaining them. We want to go around resistance rather than meet strength with strength, since this is the most efficient movement. Silat is especially good training for going around blocks, and for finding uncommon angles of attack and removing balance/disrupting structure. Done well, the opponent should always be off balance until the encounter is over.
One of the best ways to improve your martial arts skill is to actively consider the body mechanics of each technique.
- How do you engage your back/core/hips to generate power?
- What range gives you the ability to extend fully?
- What striking surface generates the most impact force?
- What targets are the best for each attack?
Asking these questions helps you identify the unique "kill zone" for every attack and increases their effectiveness. Each new technique should be considered this way.
Make physics your friend rather than your enemy.