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Rotation is used in martial arts techniques to generate force and increase the power of techniques. Without rotation, techniques would have to rely solely on the power generated by the muscles.


Base. When rotating, the base is the supporting foot, or an imaginary line drawn between two supporting feet.

Vertical axis. The vertical axis is an imaginary line drawn down the center of the body through the head, neck, torso and the center point of the base.

How rotation is used

  • Punch rotation. This involves rotating the fist around the axis of the forearm during a punch. See the twist article for more information on punch rotation.
  • Body rotation. Spinning techniques, such as the spin hook kick or spin back fist, involve rotating the body around the vertical axis. This spinning motion is used to generate more power or to change the direction or angle of an attack. See the spinning article for more information.
  • Shoulder rotation. Shoulders rotate on a plane that’s nearly perpendicular to the vertical axis. They usually rotate in tandem with the hips, staying parallel to them; however, when using hip snap, the shoulders don’t move as much as the hips move. Sometimes, near the end of a rotation, the shoulders may continue to rotate after the hips are stopped or when they reach their limit of rotation, such as with a spinning back fist. Shoulder rotation adds to the speed of arm techniques, as well as increasing the overall rotational speed of the body. Shoulders may also rotate by rolling over in an inward motion to add more muscle power to a hand technique.
  • Hip rotation. Almost every sport stresses the importance of using the hips for power. Weightlifters are told to get their hips under the weight, and golfers and batters are told to rotate their hips. Since the hips are at about the center of the body's mass, they are important for any movements of the body's mass and for maintaining overall stability. Most martial arts stress the importance of the "tanden" the center of balance/mass of the body, the point from which ki supposedly emanates

    Power in martial arts techniques comes from many sources, such as muscles, mass, speed, stability, etc. However, if the hips are not used along with these things, none of their power may be fully transferred into a technique. One indicator of a martial artist who has finally "got it" is one who uses the hips in every attack, block, or body movement.

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