IntroThe hips are the center of power. They turn powerful techniques into devastating techniques.
Ways hips are used
- Up or down. Vertical hip movement is primarily accomplished by bending the knees. If you lower the hips, you increase stability; if you raise them, you decrease stability. The hips may also be used to lower the body to avoid an attack or to provide more leverage for a lift, such as preparing to lift an opponent with a hip throw.
Some martial arts, including the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) style of taekwondo, use vertical hip movement to increase power. According to their teaching, you should raise the hips and thus the body mass, and then drop them to add more power to a technique. However, this is contrary to one of the primary purposes of hip movement, that of stability. If the body is raised before a technique is executed, stability decreases, which makes a person more vulnerable to attack. Also, the vertical movement is a "tell" that alerts an opponent to the initiation of a step or an attack.
- Forward or backward. The hips are normally moved forward and backward to help maintain balance and stability, but, in some martial arts, such as taekwondo, this movement is also used in a forward thrusting motion to add power to a kick without committing the body into taking a forward step. When the hips (the mid-section of the body) are thrust forward into a kick, such as a front kick, the body's mass is added to the force of the kick. To maintain balance during a thrust, the upper and lower sections of the body are held back.
After a thrust kick, the kick may be retracted without stepping forward. As long as stability is maintained, the retracted foot may be placed anywhere the person chooses. The hip thrust is for power, not to increase the range of the technique.
The hips are thrust forward with focus at the proper time, with only a two or three-inch movement. If the hips are thrust to reach out to the target, both power and stability are lost, which defeats the purpose of the thrust. Some say that the thrusting motion limits follow-up techniques since the hips must be brought back to the base to attain a stable base before any appreciable power may be applied to another attack or a block. While this is true, it is also a known limitation, which means the user is aware of the limitation and only uses thrusts when conditions are favorable.
- Sideways. The hips may be moved to the sides to maintain stability, to avoid a mid-section attack, or to thrust the point of the hip in an attacking motion when in very close range.
- Rotating. Hips may be moved in a horizontal rotating motion around a pivot point. One hip may be rotated around the other unmoving hip or both hips may be rotated around the centerline of the body. This rotation adds to the range of a technique but its primary purpose is to add the body's mass to the force of an attack without upsetting stability. A short, quick rotation of the hips around the centerline of the body is called a hip snap. The hip snap adds a jolt of force to a technique.
- Rolling. It is difficult to thrust the hips behind kicks other than front type kicks, such as the front kick, axe kick, or twist kick. To add body mass to other types of kicks, such as the side kick or round kick, the hips are rolled over and inward as the kick impacts the target. The hip roll adds "devastating" jolting power to these kicks just as the thrust does for front type kicks.