Disproportionality

Disproportionality refers to doing something and then doing something related with a different degree of commitment. This is often applied to both speed and Ma Ai, but it can apply to Hyoshi and a great many other aspects of your training as well. When applied to speed you might move at one speed (say 75% of full speed) for one movement and then at 100% for the next (or opposite) movement. Alternately, you might extend a strike 100% of the required distance, but then retract to 75% of the full extension distance. This has advantages for power and for readily employing a secondary movement. It can also be employed to help unbalance an opponent.

An essential application of Disproportionality comes when kicking. When performing the kick you almost always extend the kick at a lower speed than you return it. Initially this may sound backwards to you, but as you become more familiar with kicking you will discover that your kicks are actually much faster when you think about a slower (not slow) delivery and a faster retraction (usually thinking only of a fast retraction). The exact same concept applies to delivering hand strikes as well. Generally return the strike faster than it has been delivered.

You will also notice that extending a strike fully and then retracting it partially will increase the power of your strike. In addition, this may leave the hand in an effective guard position or preposition the hand for a subsequent movement. This is not something normally done with kicks however; but there are exceptions to every rule in the martial arts and you will notice kicking sequences where this concept is utilized.

One advantage of using Disproportionality during a strike is that it helps initiate your next movement. Let’s say you strike with your right hand, extending the strike at 80% of full speed. You extend the punch only out to the apex of your center triangle, but then immediately retract it at 100% speed until it is somewhere in the middle of your center triangle. Pulling your hand back quickly in this way will induce a rotation in your center. This will begin the delivery of a potential left hand strike. As your center rotates further and you begin to accelerate your left hand you will notice that your right hand has now settled into a viable guard position.

The above discussion works primarily when striking to the upper body, but similar strategies work if you vary the elevation of your strikes. You will notice that if you use Disproportionality when alternating high and low strikes that elevation changes seem to happen without much effort or conscious thought. Moving the hands back quickly causes your body to rotate and tilt as needed to deliver the next strike.

When Disproportionality is applied to timing you will find additional benefits. You might throw a series of high speed punches at an opponent and then throw a punch that approaches the opponent very slowly. The opponent becomes accustomed to the fast punches and will be ill-prepared to deal with a punch that arrives with different timing. The opposite may also be used whereby you punch at moderate speed for some period of time and then deliver an extremely rapid strike.

If you are on the ear side of an opponent you might elect to push into the opponent’s arm very quickly. You might then wrap your hand over the top of the same arm and pull slowly. The combination of slow and fast timing is confusing to an opponent and this confusion will be evident in the way they react. You will often find the opponent is suddenly disoriented and quite vulnerable.

This use of Disproportionality might also be thought of as using speed or power disproportionately and these would be valid viewpoints as well. There are a great many ways in which you can think of or consider this concept. For example, you might consider striking toward the face 70% of the time and then dropping down to the abdomen 30% of the time. Now you are using Disproportional related to elevation and strike placement. This use is perhaps better generalized as Disproportionality of quantity.

You can take nearly any activity or concept and find a way to use it disproportionately. This will usually yield some interesting and perhaps unexpected outcomes. In some cases Disproportionality will not be beneficial, but in the vast majority of movements and skills it proves an effective way to think about application from an entirely new perspective. When you train with others look for numerous different ways in which you can apply this concept. You will be surprised by the many ways it can be employed, how it will affect your opponent, and the improvements it will make in your overall abilities.

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