One of the first things a student learns, even before they learn how to punch or kick, is how to chamber. Itís also one of the first things that most students forget.
Chambering is the act of preparing your arms or legs for the impending attack. Depending on the technique and style, there can be a few variations on where you are chambering. For instance, with the hands, the chamber can be at or just above the waist or it can be in a guarded position in front of the body.
As a new student begins to work on their drills, especially drills that involve speed, their focus becomes the target and the chambers become ďsloppy.Ē Between strikes, their hands may rest at their side or in mid strike, never returning to the proper chamber position.
It is easy to see how a student may miss the chamber, especially new students. The focus is strongly and correctly on the execution. Where does the punch or kick land? Is my hand formation correct? Did I over or under extend my arm or leg? Am I breathing correctly so I donít run out of breathe? Can I keep up with my fellow classmates and teacher?
So as you can see, itís easy in the mix of things to forget about the chamber.
But by not returning to the proper chamber, the practitioner misses out on a lot of aspects of their art they need to develop. In particular:
- Limits possibilities of what their next attack may be
- Telegraph their moves to their opponents more easily
- Reduces the amount of potential power that can be behind the attack
- Leaves critical zones unprotected
- Become inflexible for changes in direction or needs to defend/block
If youíre a student and trying to improve on your own chambering, there are some techniques you can use.
Slow and steady
Before you even attempt to practice anything at full speed, try to do it slowly. Emphasis each step of the movement and process. This will not only allow you to ensure you are doing a proper chamber at the end but it will also help you develop awareness of any tension you may have while executing the technique. In general for optimal power, unless youíre doing a tension technique, you should not tense until the very last second when you deliver the blow.
While youíre performing the technique, itís often hard to see what you are doing. Setup a video camera and tape yourself. By watching a video of yourself, you can objectively observe and critique your performance. Do it with your teacher so you can also see and hear what comments they may have.
Stand in chamber
One technique is to be in chamber or ready position and stay in that position. Get the body familiar and aware of the position so it becomes natural or second-nature to your normal stance. Obviously one of the limitations of this is being able to equally practice all chamber positions. But if you can get your body familiar and comfortable with even the most basic chamber positions, you will find yourself naturally gravitating to those positions.
I canít emphasize this enough. Visualization techniques are critical in Martial Arts. If you canít visualize yourself executing a technique, you will struggle to translate it into the physical world. Close your eyes and visual every step of your execution, including the chambering and preparation.
Now that you have the tools to improve your chambering techniques, go out and practice! Iíd love to hear from you. Comment either in our forums or on or Facebook page and let me know which technique worked best for you!
Until next time, train hard!