One of the main power principles in Kenpo Karate is Torque. This power principle generates power through turning and twisting motion. Some Kenpo techniques are total torque techniques and some make heavy use of torque, along with other power principles. Obviously, one of the main points of self-defense techniques in Kenpo is that they teach you various principles, power principles included: How to use the body to apply these principles. In addition, it should be noted that these techniques have underlying rules applied to them, for instance, the rule of establishing your base: All techniques start with the establishment of a base, because you need a base to work from , to be stable and for your technique to be effective.
So, here we will examine techniques that focus on torque. The first three techniques are total torque techniques, and the last three make heavy use of torque along with other power principles.
Total Torque Techniques
A few things to note about the Kenpo technique called Twirling Wings. The first move is a combination of establishing a base and making use of backup mass and torque while checking the opponent’s arm. The first move is pretty sophisticated in that it combines multiple principles in one move.
The attacker comes up from behind and grabs your shoulders with both hands. You place your left foot in and slightly offset towards your opponent, to establish a base and move in on him; you then spin, while covering his left arm, and deliver a right inward elbow to the ribs; you turn the other way and deliver a left inward elbow to the body, covering his arm with your right hand. The technique uses torque, whipping back and forth with elbows.
Notice, too, that your body makes a 180 degree turn and your right elbow makes part of a circle on one side and the left makes a part of the circle on the other side as your body makes a 90 degree turn.
James grabbed Joe by the shoulders.
Joe steps back and covers with his left.
Continuing his motion and turning, Joe delivers a right inward elbow while maintaining a check on James left arm.
Joe checks James arm with his right hand and chambers his left to get good line of entry for the next elbow.
Joe turns into the next elbow delivered to the body.
Captured Leaves is a techniques against a Jiu Jitsu finger lock. As the attacker has hold of the fingers and raises them up to further lock them up and put pressure on the joints, you step into him (again, offset to set up the next move) and spin 180 degrees and break the arm at the elbow joint over your shoulder while delivering a left spinning back elbow into the ribs. Then you spin back the other way and hit him with a right outward elbow, checking the left arm the whole time. Opposing Forces is used on both elbow strikes.
Notice that on that 180 degree turn of your body, a circle, your right arm makes a vertical circle and your left elbow makes a straight line, cutting the circle in half, as they say.
James grabs Joe’s fingers and starts cranking them up and out.
Joe steps in toward the left, blocking and positioning, while establishing a base.
Joe spins and breaks, tweaks, dislocates or locks the arm over his shoulder, which checks James simultaneously, actually bringing his height zone up and canceling his width zone.
At the end of the spin, Joe delivers a left back elbow to the ribs, lending torque to generate power to the strike.
Joe then spins the other way and delivers a right outward elbow, keeping the arm and backup weapons checked.
Circling Wing is against a two-handed choke from behind, like a throttle choke. The idea of the first move, a step to the right 45 with the left foot, is to get the attacker to step with his left foot and open his centerline. From there you circle your right arm over your head and on top of the opponent’s arms to escape the choke and trap his right arm to check him; this is a spin, so torque, and as you do it you strike the face with your rear left hand/weapon; you then turn the other way with an upward elbow with your right arm; finally, you hammerfist strike the attacker low to the groin. This last strike has been taught as a torquing strike, turning into a reverse bow stance, both to lend counter-rotation or opposing forces to the strike; because the hips move left while the strike shoots to the right. However, it is also taught to drop in with the hammerfist, so you avoid canceling out too much of your power by leaning/turning away from the strike. This is the danger of counter-rotation, if you turn too much it actually subtracts from your power. It should be noted, this technique is dependent on the attacker actually trying to choke you and hanging on, so you can direct him when you step forward to pull and put him in a position to be hit; if he lets go, then the game changes, you are probably then in position to use mid to long range weapons, etc.
See here, too, that your right arm makes a circle to escape the choke, as you turn 180 degrees, and you immediately deliver a straight-line strike with the left hand.
Joe steps to a 45 degree angle forward to the left.
Joe spins, checks the arm and delivers a strike to the face.
Joe checks with the other hand.
Turning the body left, the elbow is delivered to the chin.
Strike to the groin.
Techniques That Use A lot of Torque
So, for these next techniques, there is heavy use of torque, but other power principles are combined to add even more power. I chose these techniques because of their sophisticated use of multiple power principles simultaneously. It should be noted that strikes are checks, and these techniques also make heavy use of strikes as checks.
Flashing Wings is against a right punch. You slip the punch and block it with your left. You shuffle in, therefore generating backup mass, and turn, using torque, and deliver a right inward elbow to the ribs and clip through with it; as you clip through, you raise your right arm up and out at a 45 degree angle from the opponent’s back and then drive a descending outward elbow to his back to drive his face down (bend him over), and you turn into that elbow; as you continue to turn to the right, you deliver a right chop to the back of his neck and start a shuffle to the right, so you are using backup, marriage with gravity and torque. This whole turning and striking thing is using those three principles. As you continue the turning and shuffling, you deliver a left chop to the back of his neck; notice you hit the same zone twice here, which is generally a Kenpo no-no (against the Diversified Zones rule of never hitting the same zone twice), except he has no way of blocking either strike in this position, so that’s why you hit the same zone twice. Now that you are in front of him, you are now in position to deliver a lifting chop to his throat with your right hand, turning into it, so you’re using torque, and dropping down so you are using opposing forces because you drop to a close kneel as your strike goes up.
So, this technique combines several power principles at once, in a series of strikes, truly a sophisticated technique.
Joe slips and blocks James’ right punch.
Joe shuffles in with an inward elbow, turning into the strike and using his backup mass.
Joe’s hand naturally travels diagonally upward.
As he turns, Joe drops a downward diagonal outward elbow into James’ back, causing him to bend forward.
As he continues to turn his body, Joe also shuffles and strikes with a right chop to the back of the neck.
Still shuffling and turning, Joe hits with a left chop to the neck and drops a knee to the calf as an added check and strike.
Joe is now positioned in front of James, checking his right arm with his left hand, his right hand is naturally low.
Joe turns and drops by bending his knees and delivers a lifting chop to the throat, still checking with his left hand.
Shield and Sword
Shield and Sword is a technique against a left punch in which you end up outside of the punch, but this time your hand is high and you strike a higher target on the first shot. The technique, similar in this regard to Flashing Wings, makes use of more than one power principle within a single strike and also simultaneous multiple strikes and checks. After the initial left-handed block, the right hand is high and you drop a chop to the back of the neck with it as the right knee strikes and checks the lead leg; this move could have torque and marriage with gravity behind it, depending on how much you turn and drop your body into it. You then shuffle (so, are using backup mass), and turn (so use torque), with a left inward elbow to the ribs and the left knee strikes and checks the lead leg of the attacker. You off-angle back with the rear left leg, claw through the eyes as you chamber your right hand (so following the rule not to make a cock a separate maneuver but make use of chambering that hand by inserting a claw to the eyes), and rake through the left kidney, which turns the adversary which opens up the right kidney for you to right roundhouse kick it. Alternatively, you can deliver that kick low to the knee if the kidney target is not available; for instance, if the attacker’s right elbow is in the way. The rake to the kidney and round house kick is done in an unwinding fashion, so has a lot of torque behind it; in addition, the rake with the right hand “throws” the right round house kick into action.
Joe slips to the right and parries with the right.
The right hand claws through the eyes as it’s chambered high and the left hand blocks.
Joe turns into a right handsword to the neck and drops a right knee into the calf.
The right hand comes down to check the attacker’s left arm.
Joe shuffles in with a left inward elbow and drives a knee into the leg as a strike and check.
The left hand comes up to check as the right hand claws through the eyes and chambers and Joe off-angles with the left foot.
Joe unwinds with a rake to the left kidney.
Immediately a round house kick is delivered to the other kidney.
Thundering Hammer is related to Flashing Wings in that it is against a right punch and you end up on the outside of it after executing a left inward block; and if Thundering Hammer’s initial strike does not work, you can alternatively use Flashing Wings.
Here, you slip to the left and block a right punch and then shuffle in with a forearm strike to the body. You then check the right arm with your right and drop a hammer fist down onto the kidneys as you twist and add torque to the marriage with gravity in the strike. You then check with the left and drop a right hammer fist (or forearm strike) to the back of the neck or base of the skull in the same way you did with the other hammerfist strike, using the same power principles. As you deliver those hammerfists, you are also dropping knees into the attacker’s leg, striking and checking him at the same time.
Joe slips and blocks the right punch.
Joe shuffles in with a forearm strike to the body.
Joe strikes the kidney and drops a knee into the calf.
Joe checks the arm and chambers his other hand.
Joe drops a hammerfist to the back of the neck and drops a knee onto the calf.
Joe steps at an angle and claws through the eyes.
Continuing the circular movement of his hand, Joe chambers that hand for a strike.
Joe’s body and the attacker’s face are now in a position for Joe to deliver a back-knuckle strike to the face.
Following all the way through with the strike, Joe’s hand is now chambered.
He comes up with a heel-palm claw to the face as he shuffles in.
So, there you have it. These techniques teach the use of torque for generating power behind your technique and also how to combine power principle and multiple strikes to make your techniques sophisticated. It is important to remember that techniques teach principles, so that the understanding of the techniques sinks in deeper and can be used across the board in varying situations and spontaneously.