Fight Physics

Facebook advertisements are quite powerful. Based on my browsing it knows what I am interested in. Today it threw up an advertisement for a book on martial arts. This is a new book that was just published on 7 Oct 2015. The title is Fight Like a Physicist : The Incredible Science Behind Martial Arts.


It is an interesting book based on what I could see in the free preview on Amazon. The book makes it easier for the average martial artist to understand the role of physics in martial arts.

I have been telling my Tai Chi students – if you want to understand Tai Chi buy a book on physics. Of course, I know it would not be easy to read a book on physics and try to relate it to the practice of martial arts much less know how to use the principles of physics to improve one’s practice.

The advantage of reading a mentally challenging physics textbook is that it covers so many more topics. However, Fight Like a Physicist makes this information very accessible and therein lies its usefulness.

There is another book on the market that is similar to Fight Like a Physicist but much more detailed and comprehensive. This book is Biomechanics of Human Motion: Applications in the Martial Arts. It is much more expensive when compared to Fight Like a Physicist and not as easy to read as it is more like a proper biomechanics textbook.

biomechanicsbookBefore you plunk down your hard earned cash on Biomechanics of Human Motion: Applications in the Martial Arts I would suggest that you try to take a look at the actual book and read through it to see if its suitable for you. I am sure you wouldn’t want to end up with an expensive book stand.

Knowledge is power. If you don’t understand what you are doing then reading books such as Fight Like a Physicist can help somewhat. For example I saw a video on Facebook for which the understanding of physics would be useful. Check it out at this link.

In the video you can see a person, X, having a go at the pad ten times. However, if you look carefully you can see that X only managed to move the person holding the pad when he stepped closer in. From a power perspective after the first three tries X started to have better success in moving his partner because he had found the right distance to impart a stronger momentum.

From an application angle the longer distance that X had to step to generate power is not as practical because a moving opponent would not stand there long enough for X to step through for the power especially when it comes to elbow strikes. For elbow strikes which are close range weapons it would be more likely that X will only have a fraction of a second to get the technique in whether in sparring or even push hands.

Thus, for the technique to work it would mean that X must be able to get his power out as soon as the target presents itself or opens up. This is the rationale for the use of short range power. Understanding the physics behind a martial arts movement would help X tremendously to improve his ability to generate sudden, short power.

I can see from the video that X’s power is of the long pulse type which means that it is useful to knock a person backwards but not as good for the purpose of imparting an injurious force that can instantly stop the opponent in his tracks. However, this is not to say that an elbow strike from such a distance cannot hurt. It will.

The application of the principles of physics would readily show areas in which X could improve so that there is no need to have such a long travel to get the power out. This would render the short range technique more usable against a moving opponent.

In summary, the main challenge for most students is not so much the lack of knowledge because nowadays there are tons of information out there but it is that they do not necessarily know where their problems areas are, which particular principles to use to correct the problem and how to move such that their corrected movements are in compliance to the principles of physics. This is the reason why for students who want to Master Tai Chi Today the easiest way to improve is still by seeking out a teacher who can teach you and in particular correct your problem areas.


Want to learn Tai Chi in Singapore? At Singapore Yang Style Combat Tai Chi lessons covering forms, weaponry, push hands, fajing and applications are offered. Lessons are conducted in English. Send enquiry today at the link here.

1 thought on “Fight Physics

  1. Pingback: Student Notes-Test Structure | Master Tai Chi Today

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