Archive for Body Mechanics

You Must Be High If You Wanna Wear Heels!

Posted in Health, Miscellaneous, Self-Defense, Training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2012 by hybridfightingmethod

High heels cause such damage to a person’s body, it is completely nonsensical to wear them for any occasion. Each person has the right to do whatever they want to their own body – but I would like to challenge our view on high heels. Stilettos, Wedges, and Pumps all share one thing in common – they damage your body.

For this reason, I personally do not find them attractive – and in fact – find them quite the opposite.

Heels are only worn for the cosmetic appeal, and because of society’s patriarchal impositions on women and their own assumptions about beauty and sexual selection. They really serve no actual function.

People in all sorts of cultures do ridiculous things to their bodies in order to appear beautiful. They cut chunks of their skin out, file their teeth into fangs, and they elongate their necks to the point where they look more like giraffes.

I have heard martial arts instructors suggest using them in a self-defense context, citing them as useful trauma-causing tools. I question whether or not this is actually the case. Surely almost ANYTHING can be used as a weapon, but by the same token why not carry a banana with you everywhere and stick the pointy end into an attacker?

Let’s look at the 2 kinds of violence a person is likely to face – social and asocial – and examine if high heels really can be useful.


When does someone put on heels? When they are going out on the town, or out for a nice dinner, or out to a special event.

If social violence is to occur, it is going to be very difficult to flee the situation while wearing heels, so the heels will likely come off.
However, if there is social violence occurring, there is usually alcohol involved (after all – where are we wearing heels?… places that serve alcohol). Violence and alcohol share a first cousin, and that cousin is broken glass. You rarely have one without the other in settings where alcohol is served. If you cut your foot open on broken glass, especially in a public area – you risk blood loss and infection – as well as giving yourself a disadvantage toward the end of protecting yourself.

“Yeah, but you can take off your heels and use them to stab attackers in the eyes”, or other such arguments are ludicrous. Even if there is no broken glass or other rough terrain, it would take you an exceptional amount of time to remove your heels and to use them with enough force and accuracy to do any significant damage. You could have a far better effect (and far quicker) with even just an open hand. The time you would take to remove your shoes to use them as a weapon is longer than the time it would take to already be severely injured by your attacker.

They can be used to dig into shins and feet, but your stability would be far too compromised to really be optimally mobile (as you would want to be for the duration of a personal attack).


What if you are attacked asocially? This would be a possibility if you are on a date, walking to your car after a long day at the office, waiting for a taxi to go to your best friend’s birthday….or a million other possible scenarios. Typically you are alone.

In an asocial setting, you very rarely see the violence coming. The attack is likely an ambush. Heels will hinder you in many of the ways described above. The difference here is that you have even less time to deploy them as you are already under attack. Again, you could probably do far more damage and better your chances of escape using your bare hands.

Of course, if your shoe was already in your hand for some reason, then you could use it – but the odds against this being the case seem astronomical.


Some people argue that women are not going to let go of wearing these types of shoes, and because of this they craft entire classes and programs around performing self-defense in heels. While I can see their point, this attitude perpetuates an illogical meme, rather than challenge the currently held norm.

I wore high heels once. I volunteered with the White Ribbon Campaign – an organization that works toward the goal of ending violence against women and girls. We conducted a “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” fundraiser, where participants walked a mile in high heels.

A great cause indeed. During the stiletto and pump marathon, women chuckled and guffawed at the men hunkering around like their knee caps were inverted. You could almost hear the collective “Now you know what it I have to go through.”

But did anyone stop to ask, “Why the hell do I wear these stupid things anyway?” They are worn because women think they are pretty, and make them look good. And men perpetuate this idea, to the detriment of women’s health.

What a shame…that a woman would think that she HAS TO go through that torment just to look appealing.

Transgendered men that try to emulate women also put themselves through hell to look like women, and also force themselves into the little hobbling devices.

To train women realistically in heels is a liability. I would imagine that if you jostled a woman around in a manner similar to what she would experience during REAL violence (and not cardio karate playtime with friends), you would have enough broken and sprained ankles on your hands to fill an entire armada of hospital beds.

Violence is difficult enough to navigate without crippling your chances. I mean, why not fight blindfolded, too? After all, blindfolds make you look sexy and classy.


In summation, heels of any sort are horrible for your body, and are not so great for functional use in self-defense contexts.

Flat-bottomed shoes are where it’s at. They can be sexy, stylish, functional, and comfortable with components that actually aid your posture and stability.

We really should be making conscious choices for functionality in fashion.

High heels should be nothing more than a history lesson.

T.J. Kennedy

Hybrid Fighting Method

* high heel image above courtesy of

Exercise For Projecting Force | Kuo

Posted in I-Liq Chuan, Internal Arts, Training, Videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2012 by mindbodykungfu

One of the things that I find painful to observe when I go to the gym is watching people do squats.  It’s a basic movement that gets butchered since our sedentary lifestyles have made us forget how to move from the hips.  Instead, what happens when people squat is mostly poorly coordinated movements starting from the knees.  Rather than try to explain this in text, I find that Kelly Starrett’s video post about squatting is easier to visualize:

So, what does this have to do with projecting force?

Well, joint sequencing in a squat movement has direct carryover to projecting force.  One thing I often notice with people first learning absorb-project is that the hip-knee coordination is off.  The knees drift forward first, followed by the hips drifting forward, and ultimately resulting in a forward lean with the weight on the toes.  Starting the movement from the knees moves the knee into a suboptimal angle for bearing force, which in turn puts unnecessary shear stress on the knee and shifts most of the movement load to the quadriceps.  There is also a tendency to lose suction on the kua when initiating from the knees.  This manifests as the front of the body opening up and the mingmen closing; consequently, the shoulders move backwards as the body is moving forward, which is an inefficient movement pattern for projecting force forward.  Projecting by initiating with forward knee movement results in movement that is off-balance, not harmonized, skewed towards a yang-only energy, and stresses the knees more than necessary.

 If we stick to I-Liq Chuan principles

…and project and expand from the mingmen to initiate the movement, we get joint sequencing more like a proper squat.  The mingmen and hips move back first, which keeps the knee in a better position. The aligned knee position allows axial force transfer through the joint, which minimize shear stress.  With the force moving more through the center of the knee joint instead of shearing out, the quads don’t have to work so hard counteracting knee flexion (bending) and can thus be more relaxed.  Moving from the hips first also distributes force to the strong posterior chain muscles (i.e. hamstrings and glutes) in addition to engaging the quads, so we get  harmonization of the yin and yang muscles.

Johnny Kuo

[Originally posted 3/13/12, MindBodyKungfu.Com]

The Body Line | Johnny Kuo

Posted in Martial Arts, Teaching Topic, Training with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by mindbodykungfu

After the center of the feet, usually the first “easy” idea I teach to new students is paying attention to the body line. When the hand (or more precisely, the point of contact) is inside the body line, it is easier to absorb. Conversely, when the hand crosses outside of the body line, it is easier to project force. The body line is an important transition point which needs to be recognized to maintain unification with an opponent’s force.

It’s a simple concept that is easy to demonstrate. Just move the hand inside or outside the body line and try absorbing to pull or projecting to push against a partner’s force. The importance of recognizing open vs closed becomes evident just from the touch feedback. Absorbing while open or projecting while closed only generates power from the arms and is harder. Projecting while open or absorbing when closed links up more joints in the body and generates more power with less effort.

Why this should be the case might not be immediately obvious. A quick thought experiment can explain the body line transition. Imagine the shoulder as a center of rotation for the arm in the horizontal plane. The point at which the arm is at its front-most position is directly perpendicular to the body (i.e. at the body line). If we borrow some math from the previous post on spheres of offense and defense, we can treat the body line direction as a diameter line of a circle. As the arm crosses inside or outside the body line, the diameter line is crossed. The forward-back motion vector of the arm (i.e. the tangent the arc) switches sign upon crossing the body line.

Alternatively, we can use a clock as our circular motion model. When the minute hand goes from 9 to 12, there is an upward movement component. Exactly at 12, there is no upward or backward movement component. After 12 is passed, the minute hand has a downward movement component. Once the hand crosses the transition point, there is a change from a forward to backward movement.

Of course, the human body does not move strictly according to rigid body mechanics, and movements usually involve several joints. The simple analysis is imperfect, but it serves as a rough approximation for understanding the mechanics.

Johnny Kuo


(Originally post. 2/17/2011)

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