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Posture: The Foundation Of Strength


This is something you will hear me say numerous times during our Juyukai classes.

This single cue is a reminder to my students to get back into what I call a position of authority. Whether you’re standing or on the ground, having proper posture is necessary for any position you might find yourself in. 

Posture Is Key

Proper posture. Similar but different depending on the purpose.

Posture is just one part of a three-part overarching concept in the Juyukai that helps us both on the mat and in life. 

  • Maintain your posture (structure), to control your breathing, and guide your mindset

Having proper posture, control of the breath, and a clear mindset allows you to work to, 

  • Break your opponent’s posture (structure), in order to disrupt their breathing pattern, and dominate their mindset. 

We know that the better we can compromise our opponent’s posture and keep that posture broken, the worse off they’ll be. Good for us, bad for them. 

When one’s posture is broken it affects everything else. 

Imagine back to a time where you felt out of control when sparring or completely dominated in a match. 

Suddenly your opponent broke your posture, you braced your body which caused you to hold your breath, and immediately your mind went into panic mode, trying to figure out how to get back into a position of authority. Chances are your opponent capitalized on the opportunity and continued to “break you down”. A downward performance spiral that led to a tap, loss, or even worse. 

Therefore the real fight is to always maintain the proper posture for the task at hand. It is the very essence of power and control and it represents how we carry ourselves, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. 

Just as we maintain a strong physical posture on the mat, we should also carry ourselves with confidence and integrity in our daily lives. Having good posture, maintaining proper breath control, and focusing on tasks with a clear and positive mindset means that we will be ready to navigate life challenges with confidence and resilience.

Understanding Posture

The term “posture” may seem simple, yet its importance cannot be overstated. Posture is the foundation upon which all techniques are built, and it serves as the backbone of all martial art disciplines. In my mind, finding proper posture is the key to continued growth both on and off the mat. 

Imagine a tree with strong roots that stretch deep into the earth. Its branches reach high into the sky, unyielding in the face of the fiercest storms. The tree’s stability and strength come from its posture, much like a martial artist’s power originates from their own structural alignment.

Posture refers to the alignment and positioning of your body. It’s not just about standing up straight; it’s about understanding how your body should be positioned to maximize your power, balance, and efficiency whether you’re striking or grappling. While this posture will change depending on the needs of your practice and the situation, all good posture has three pillars.  

The Three Pillars of Posture

1. Balance

Balance is the cornerstone of good posture. Whatever martial art you practice, we all know that balance is essential. Without it, your techniques will lack stability, and you’ll be vulnerable to takedowns, strikes, sweeps, or counters from your opponent.

In Judo, for example, a well-balanced posture allows you to maintain your center of gravity, making it difficult for your opponent to throw you. In Karate, balance is crucial for executing powerful strikes while remaining defensively sound. Kendo practitioners rely on balance to strike with precision and speed. In ground work we know that an opponent with bad balance is easier to sweep in order to get on top. 

Proper posture focuses on having a good base in order to maintain balance. 

On The Mat Forever Homework: 

The next time you are training ask yourself; Am I in balance? If not, work diligently to figure out what would be the proper posture to allow yourself to be in balance. 

2. Alignment

Alignment is the art of positioning your body parts correctly. It refers to the correct positioning of the body parts relative to each other, which allows for optimal biomechanics and power generation.

Every martial art has its own specific requirements for alignment. For example in BJJ, when in the top position, a practitioner needs to align their body over their opponent’s to prevent escapes and control their movements. This alignment creates a solid base where they can control their balance so they can attack and keep from being swept.

As well, proper alignment is crucial during guard passing. If a practitioner allows their posture to break while attempting to pass the guard, they become susceptible to sweeps and submissions. 

When it comes to boxing and throwing punches, the alignment of the feet and hips is pivotal for generating power. A well-aligned body allows a boxer to transfer weight effectively from the back foot to the front foot, adding force to their punches. Misalignment can lead to weaker punches and compromised balance.

On The Mat Forever Homework:

Think about a particular movement or technique that you are having difficulty with. Do you have good alignment? If not, what do you need to do in order to correct that? Hint, check your posture. 

3. Efficiency

Efficiency in posture means minimizing wasted motion and energy. In Judo, efficient posture allows you to execute throws with minimal effort, relying on leverage and proper body positioning. 

Consider the hip throw, or “O-Goshi.” Maintaining an upright and aligned posture is crucial for this throw. By having a straight back and properly aligned hips, a Judoka can efficiently use their opponent’s movements and leverage to execute the throw. The minimal effort required comes from the effective use of the hips and a well-timed application of force rather than relying solely on muscular strength.

On The Mat Forever Homework: 

How efficient are your movements? In other words, do your throws, strikes, take-downs, passes, and submissions feel overly labored? If you find yourself using too much effort then take note of your posture when performing those moves and work to correct your alignment.  

The Universal Importance of Posture

While the specifics of posture may vary between martial arts disciplines, the underlying principles remain consistent. Proper posture enhances your martial arts skills in several key ways:

  • Power Generation: Good posture enables you to generate more power in your techniques, whether it’s a Judo throw, a Karate punch, or a Kendo strike.
  • Defense: Solid posture provides a strong defense, making it challenging for your opponent to exploit weaknesses or land clean hits.
  • Endurance: Maintaining proper posture conserves energy, allowing you to practice longer and remain effective throughout a match or sparring session.
  • Injury Prevention: Correct alignment and balance reduce the risk of injury by minimizing unnecessary stress on your joints and muscles.

In essence, posture serves as the universal thread weaving through diverse martial arts disciplines. Mastering posture is not only the key to unlocking the full potential of techniques but also the cornerstone of a formidable martial artist. 

It is a unifying principle that transcends individual styles, emphasizing the importance of foundational alignment in achieving success and longevity in martial arts practice.

Focus on your posture and it will help keep you, On The Mat Forever. 

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