WingChun Physics 101: Punch Energy and Momentum

Energy exists in many forms. Your energy comes from what you eat, because your body turns the food into chemical energy.  It is turned into mechanical energy in your muscles, which is used to punch an opponent.  Depending on the factors at the point of impact, the energy of your strike can turn into sound energy, thermal energy, kinetic energy to move the opponent and/or to locally change in its structure, such as bruises and pains.  When energy changes forms, energy is conserved. No energy is lost.

In WingChun, how can I punch harder?

There are two type of punches:

  1. Momentum Punch: heavy punch to move your opponent, i.e. knock one back/out
  2. Energy Punch: fast and painful that causes more pains and bruises

WingChun Momentum Punch

Momentum is the force gained by a series of motions with magnitude and directions in 3D space. Do you remember the Newton’s Second Law of Motion? What happens to a body when an external force is applied to it?  In momentum, the amount of changes to the body is equal to the net force acting on it.

This is written in mathematical form as P = mvP is momentum, m is mass, and v is the velocity. It has a specific direction assigned to it.

High momentum strike is a powerful tool to have in fight. It can push your opponent back, knock him off balance, knock him out if the strike leads to one’s head rotate.

Mass and velocity are multiplied together to increase the momentum of the punch. More momentum means finding the way to put more weight behind your punches.  Your knuckle is less than 1 percent of your body weight. Consider dealing with 200-pound man approaching or least his head to spin-around. Average person can throw punch at 10-15 mph (miles per hour), or even more trained practitioner can through it in maybe twice faster, like 20-25 mph.  You need to find the way to use more mass than just a fist. Right?

Train to put more mass behind the punch. Coordinate your body parts, arms, shoulders, spines, rib cage, hip, feet, gravity, and timing of air exhalation, from preparation of the punch to the impact.  Even if you are to put 5-10 percent of your body weight behind the punches, you can improve the momentum of the punch for 10 to 20 times, while combining other factors, which are a lot more involved.

WingChun High Energy Punch

Kinetic energy is the energy of motion.  The equation is KE= 1/2mv m is mass, and v is the velocity. It means that the kinetic energy of an object is directly proportional to the square of its speed. If speed increases in twofold, the kinetic energy will increase by a factor of four. It has the strong favoritism to the speed. So, if you want to get the most energy from your punch, increasing the speed is your primary goal.

Collisions: Energy Transfer and Impulse

Upon collision, intensity of energy is transferred per unit area.  So, if there are smaller surface used as a contact for the punch (bone parts of the knuckle versus palm strike), the localized damage is more severe. In addition, the impulse (J), which is the integral of the the resultant impact force (F) is J = ∫ F dt = m Δv =F t. m is mass, and Δv is the changes in velocity, t is the time during the collision.  It means in order to achieve high Fincreasing the Δv and decreasing the t will do the job.

What does it means in WingChun punch?  We can also improve our punch by decreasing the collision time, and increasing the punching speed (toward opponent and “quick pull” of your fist at the moment of impact). If you are wearing a traditional WingChun uniform, you can hear the sound of your sleeve snap with your fist.

Energy Transfer and Efficiency in Interactions

This fundamental physics is also applicable to kicks, palm strikes, and pak sao, etc.  For example, we always emphasize not to holding onto the opponent’s arm after the pak sao. It’s one of the many reasons.  When you grab and attempt to control the opponent, it increases the time during the collision and half of Δv (the change in velocity), and your momentum ends there.  It lowers the efficiency of the energy transfer in combat.  Same in life, sometime, to lose control is the best possible thing that can happen to us.  It releases us from the pain that comes from expectations, and teaches us to be calm and be ready for the next things.  Pak sao then punch the opponent at the best you can do, once completed the task, go back to the wu sao position and get ready for the next.

It can take years of training to reach to the point where you feel coordination of the body, enable to put significant mass behind your punches, and improve the details of the basic techniques.  It will take a lifetime to reach the perfection, because once you get advanced, your sense of awareness advances,  you will always start finding more room to improve yourself. And small advancement, feeling of small success in a daily life, get yourself inspired, and inspire others.  By training yourself hard, you are making the world slightly better.  Isn’t it fascinating?

If you have the guts to keep making mistakes, your wisdom and intelligence leap forward with huge momentum.Holly Near

Sije Yuka Yoshioka

WingChun Movements and Mindsets

If the life extracts one thing, it’s movement.

To live is to keep moving. It takes a lot of courage to liberate yourself from the familiar and seemingly secure environment, to embrace the unknown.  On the other hand, there is truly more security in the adventurous and exciting mindsets and actions.  For in movement, there is life, and in change, there is power.

In WingChun, how to improve the movement?

If the mastering the technique itself is immature, whatever the muscle is greatly trained, it becomes an unused treasure. On the contrary, if you acquire the skills of maneuvering your body freely, you can generate more power and speed efficiently. For example, compare to the punch with merely the arm muscle movement,  you can throw significantly heavier punches; if you know how to transfer the force created by your footwork and bodywork, through the feet, legs, hip, spines, chest, shoulders, arms, to the fists.

For the start, we can introduce you to those 3 basic movements and exercise ideas:

1) Stretch and Shrink:

Stretch the ribs and pelvis apart and simultaneously shrink the opposite side.  Remain the center of gravity to the stretched side, that way, you can recognize the power, which you transfer from pelvis to legs. The muscles on trunk can move much wider and more elastic. It can improve the movement of hands and arms, and create physical agility.

2) Roll and Warp:

From the pelvis to the backbone, round and warp the torso, repeatedly. During the movement, be conscious of each spine clearly. It can increase overall leg movement efficiency and enhance overall suppleness, flow and flexibility of the body actions.

3) Twist:

Twisting the spine one by one, it’s the movement of distinguishing the torso and leg from the joint, which leads to create the maximum power of human being (Punches, Kicks, etc.). Be careful not to move your legs while hanging on this exercise.

Train to the Mastery for life.

Just to mention a few, you can imagine that there are infinite numbers of combinations and details in practice. Of course, it will not be acquired overnight but we can start realizing that there are more prosperity to be found on the way to the mastery of WingChun along with the mastery of your body. It could take a lifetime and persistence there, but you can improve yourself as far as you train.  In each stage, you always encounter the pleasure of discovering more about WingChun, yourself and others, which leads to the passion to do more, and eventually share more with others.  The martial artists in the ancient time says, “Aim to train to achieve the peak performance of your body in your 60s.”

Stay in Action and Be Conscious.

Movement is the prescription for creating change in your physical, emotional, and mental states. In a daily life, you can also practice how to manage yourself by yourself. It is like one of your grooming routines: you to be always being “yourself” with no matter the circumstances or who you are with. Observe and take care of the trivial details well, which most people don’t even notice. Think about how to maintain the good distance to other people?  Don’t be too close or sticky, but don’t be too unfriendly or unfavorable.  Fulfill your role so as not to differentiate and obstruct others.  It also leads to raising the quality of movement for itself.

Therefore, you can achieve the status of “No Unguarded Moment“, as a consciousness of martial arts in a glimpse.  In other words, you become the one who is always ready, reliable and accountable.

In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.  -Deepak Chopra

Sije Yuka Yoshioka


@ WingChun Berkeley on July 18th at 7:30-9pm

We are very excited to host this very special event with Paramount Pictures for the release of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT on July 27th! Please join us and learn the skill to protect yourself like Tom Cruise protects himself in the film!  Infuse your life with full of actions. And yes, please be ready to have a lot of fun in the class!

The attendee will receive the promotional items and advance screening passes for the movie!
Life is fulfilled more with the passions and missions. And put them into action – instead of distressed on the sidelines.  It is to find peace within you and a heart full of love. Please RSVP early to secure your spot!

Mission:Impossible Self-Defense Class

WingChun Quantum Physics 101: Intention and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle

Everything happens in the universe begins with intention. The classic quote known as the Upanishads dictates, “You are what your deepest desire is. As your desire is, so is your intention. As your intention is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny.”

An intention is a directed impulse of consciousness that contains the potentials form of that which you aim to proceed. Our first WingChun form, Siu Nim Tao (小念頭), is translated as small intention.  It includes key techniques in WingChun and each small section has its own aim in practice, and various meanings in applications. Once you learn the movements of the form, it must be practiced repeatedly with technical accuracy, power, and speed. It also designed to focus your intention and power into a single technique.

Observation and intention are intimately related. Like Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, which states that we cannot observe something without changing what we are observing. According to Heisenberg, there is no such thing as an independent observer, who can sit on the sidelines watching nature run its course, without influencing it. In quantum physics, how we observe a particle in a subatomic system determines what it becomes.

In the same sense, within WingChun system, the way we observe ourselves and our opponents determines what becomes of both of these. So, then, how do we make our intentions manifest during the WingChun training?

These 3 things:  Your Will, your Plans/Thoughts, and your Focus.

Your will to train and executing the techniques precisely, and your plans for the the training, which broadly includes from adjusting your training schedule, to how your WingChun techniques aligns into sequences, based on your training partner’s motions. Focus has less to do with determination and more to do with observation, looking out for opportunities that our intention leads to us. Focusing your thought on what you want to achieve is called intention.

The ideas of daily matters, such as families, friends, relationships, works, studies, egos, hate, love, etc… decrease to as little as possible, or even none, so that the WingChun practitioner may centralize oneself, only upon practicing, once you initiate the practice.

Let’s close it with this quote by Bob Goff, “Embrace the Uncertainty, some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.”

Sije Yuka Yoshioka

WingChun Physics 101 – Intro to Izzac Newton’s Laws

May the force be with you! Remember Issac Newton’s First Law of Motions, “a body at rest will remain at rest, and a body in motion will remain in motion unless it is acted upon by an external force.”

What, then, happens to a body when an external force is applied to it? That situation is described by Newton’s Second Law of Motion.

“Force is equal to the change in momentum per change in time. For a constant mass, force equals mass times acceleration.” This is written in mathematical form as F = ma.

F is force, m is mass and a is acceleration. The math behind this is quite simple.

Force is the power of punches, Pak Sao, Tan Sao, Bong Sao, and more. Yes, understanding the physics behind it would significantly help you toughing up and up!

a is the acceleration, change its velocity, at a constant rate. So, in order to get the most efficient acceleration at the impact, you need to know the optimum distance for your techniques, where your hands reaches to maximum speed.

In WingChun Physics, F and a are in vector quantities, which means they have both magnitude and direction. The force can be the combination of more than one force. In this case, we would write the equation as ∑F = ma.

Think about the mass of fists, combining with the different parts of your body and angles, with the strong stance, adding more power source from stance shift and steps, the possibility of maximizing the force by training is almost infinite.

Therefore, we emphasizes a lot in the proper preparation, timing, precise motions, and stances in WingChun.  And WingChun practitioners have tendency to progress and transform significantly faster, once he/she started to grab this feeling of flows and coordination.  Indeed, it is under the multiple phases and reaching each stage feels really great. Let’s Feel the Force!

Sije Yuka Yoshioka