While performing a martial arts technique, especially a block or a punch, a distinct, sharp, snapping sound is heard, which is commonly called as a “snap”. In the following videos, a snap sound can be clearly heard.
John Reilly video “2017 ITF World Championships 2nd Dan Ladies Patterns Final – CHINA VS DPRK”:
World Karate Federation video “Final Male Kata. Antonio Diaz of Venezuela. 21st WKF World Karate Championships Paris 2012”:
Does the gi produce the “snap” sound?
Generally, it is believed that the sleeves of the gi slapping on the arm or the leg, produces this sound, and thus, the more heavier and the more starched a gi is, the more sound will be produced. Usually, this belief may be popularised by gi manufacturers so that they can sell more expensive gi; however, this belief is misleading. The “snap” sound is merely a by-product of the correct execution of a technique by the body. A “snap” sound can also be produced even when not wearing a gi. The following video demonstrates the snapping sound produced in a T-shirt.
Jesse Enkamp video “How To “SNAP” Your Karate Strikes!”:
How is the “snap” sound produced?
The “snap” sound is merely a by-product of a martial arts technique being perfectly executed. This by-product is purely decorative as it does not contribute anything to the martial arts technique. It’s only function is perhaps to prove that the technique is perfectly executed. Because if the technique is perfectly executed, then the “snap” sound will be automatically created without any conscious effort at all. Therefore, to produce the “snap” sound, the technique has to be perfect.
Perfecting a technique
Any martial art technique is perfected when the body co-ordinates breathing, footwork, the motion of the body, tension-relaxation, and many more factors, which includes the following:
—simultaneous muscular contraction and expansion
—rotations on the anatomical planes
—balance of the entire body
—speed of the body part used
—timing of the body part used
—precision of the body part used
—power in the body part used
Simultaneous muscular contraction and expansion
To move the human body, desire, thoughts, emotions, bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, blood, energy, and more are required. From an anatomical perspective, primarily muscles are used, which show agonist-antagonist movements. This means that the muscles move in opposite directions, but simultaneously. For example if muscle A contracts, then muscle B expands, simultaneously, then only can the human body move. So, muscle A is in tension, while muscle B is in relaxation and both these happen at the same time. Because of this simultaneous muscular contraction and expansion of different muscles, movement of the human body takes place. The following video explains this kind of movement of the muscles.
Siebert Science video “Muscles and Movement | Antagonist Pairs of Muscles”:
In martial arts, this means that while a martial technique is executed, some muscles are tensed while some other muscles are relaxed, and all this happens at the same time. Tensing of the muscles can be partial or complete. For example, when a technique is initiated and is still in progress, then the muscles are partially tensed. Since the muscles are partially tensed only so much that it can initiate movement, they are largely relaxed. This increases the overall relaxation of the muscles, due to which more blood and thereby more oxygen is available to the muscles. Only at the moment of impact, the partially tensed muscles are completely tensed. Thus, by partially tensing and thereafter completely tensing the muscles, power is increased in a martial arts technique.
Rotations on the anatomical axes
The human body can move on several anatomical planes and axes. The following videos provides an overview of anatomical planes and axes.
Physiotutors video “Anatomical Planes & Axes Explained”:
In martial arts, if one part of the body moves in one anatomical axis, while the other part of the body moves in an another anatomical axis, then more power in the strike is created. For example, while delivering a punch, if the hip is twisted, then the punch has more power, but the axis on which the hand moves and the axis on which the hips twist, are different. Further, for some martial arts techniques, if the anatomical axes of the body are rotated in opposite directions, then a whip-like motion is created, which can generate still more power in a shorter time and in a shorter space.
Balance of the entire body
Balance of the body means making the body align with the earth’s centre of gravity. The centre of gravity may be imagined as a longitudinal straight line going at the centre of the body from the top of the head to the ground. In every martial movement, maintaining the balance, which means maintaining the centre of gravity, is of utmost importance. When one is stationary, then the centre of gravity is easily maintained, but while one is in motion, then the centre of gravity goes on constantly shifting up and down on this imaginary line. As martial arts employ several motions, therefore a martial artist hardly remains stationary, and in such a situation maintaining the centre of gravity becomes difficult. To overcome this problem, stances are practiced in all martial arts. Stances are so designed that one can maintain the centre of gravity even while performing martial movements. This implies that to win a combat, the opponent’s stance has to be broken, while one’s own stance has to be maintained. One of the ways to break an opponent’s stance is to take a stance that aligns with the imaginary central axis of the opponent’s stance and push backward or pull forward that imaginary central axis. The following videos show how balance is maintained in a stance and how to break the balance in a stance. [Note: To enable subtitles, the closed captions (cc) button may be pressed.]
kuro-obi world video “How to use your Center of Gravity in Karate【Karate at home: 2 】Tatsuya Naka” :
Sampson Judo video “How to Break Someone’s Balance”:
Speed of the body part used
Everything that the body does is due to the electro-chemical actions taking place in the neurons of the brain. Hence, every martial art, as well as any sporting activity, places emphasis on visualization, so that the techniques are already imprinted in the mind. When the time comes to implement those techniques, then the mind already knows them and thereby the execution speed is increased. Thus, speed is more mental and less physical. The following video shows some techniques employing speed.
TravelBuff video “Fight Science – Bren Foster Taekwondo speed”:
Timing of the body part used
Correct timing is essential for success in almost all human endeavours, be it commerce, science or arts. Similarly, in martial arts also, timing is essential. The following video analyzes the timing in boxing.
The Modern Martial Artist video “Jersey Joe Walcott’s Perfect Timing Explained – Broken Rhythm Footwork & Head Movement Breakdown”:
Power of the body part used
Power in a strike can be created in various ways; nonetheless, it is universally accepted that mass and speed play major roles. Thus, all martial arts develop techniques to increase mass and speed. The following video analyses the power in a punch.
MartialartsinNB video “National Geographic – Fight Science – Training for Power with Punching”
Generally, although debatable, nonetheless it is held that precision beats power and timing beats speed. But for precision, power, timing, and speed, other factors like understanding action and reaction, maintaining the centre of gravity, adaptability-flexibility-resilience, correct breathing, footwork, discipline, stretching, warm up and cool down, and more are also required. All these are important components that are found in any fundamental movement of any martial art of the world. This is the reason why all martial arts of the world are built on the foundation of fundamental movements. The better a martial artist is in executing fundamental movements, the better will be his/her skill.
Instead of focusing on how to produce the “snap” sound, a martial artist should focus on mastering the fundamental techniques, because then the “snap” sound will be automatically produced by the body, simply as a by-product, without any conscious effort at all.
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