Principles of Living Force

Paul Irvin, co-president of the UTF explains a new method for analyzing technique.


As well as guiding martial arts training, these principles can apply to our daily life.

CONTROL OF MASS - Mass can be solid like a rock or fluid like water.  Having multiple-part bodies connected by joints gives us the ability to make ourselves one rigid difficult-to-move mass or, by relaxing our joints, to make ourselves more flexible like a whip. For example, acceleration is most efficiently achieved by sequenced stages, while impact is most effective as a unified mass. For maximum effectiveness in our movements and in our lives it is important to know how and when to be like a rock or to flow like water.

ACCELERATION - Acceleration is the unique factor which must be present with mass in order to create force. If a mass is at rest or moving at a constant speed there is no acceleration. In order for something to move, change direction or change speed, accelerationmust be present. The manner and timing of our acceleration determines the amount and effectiveness of our force.

CENTER - All forces exist as equal and opposite pairs, either moving away or toward the system center. When our center of energy coincides with our center of mass we have the best foundation from which togenerate maximum force and to receive outside forces with the least upset to our equilibrium. A strong sense of center gives us a base for maintaining and regaining stability in stances, in movements and in our lives.

FOCUS - Undirected force usually is not very effective in achieving a particular purpose, and often results in undesirable side effects and wasted energy. The more purposely we can focus, the more efficient and effective our forces of action, thought and spirit will be. From a wide focus for maximum awareness to a tight focus for force application.

COUNTER FORCE - Since all forces occur as equal and opposite pairs, every intended force has an opposing force. Nothing can be done which will stop the opposing force from happening, but creating a counter forcecancels the effect of the opposing force on our center. This allows the intended motion to be more effective and enables the center to remain relaxed and in balance ready to respond to the next needed action. Similarly in our lives all our actions will create reactions. When these reactions are not helpful to the overall purpose, creating counter actions can help reduce the negative effects of the reactions.

INTEGRATED BREATHING - It is quite possible when under stress to breathe poorly; either not enough, or too much. Trying to control breathing usually means some attention is being diverted from more important matters. Controlling often means consciously forcing the breath to do what you mentally want it to do, rather than allowing the body and mind to work together for mutual benefit to determine the amount and frequency of the breathing. Properly integrated breathing releases tension, unifies and stabilizes the body, and focuses energy.

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Last update: 06/07/2016