Projecting Physical Strength

Sometimes, you’ll need to project physical strength against an opponent. If you patronize unsavory bars, you already know this! Sporting professionals and martial artists project strength in controlled settings.

So, how can you project strength efficiently?

Here’s a useful generalization:

Try to feel your technique and intention but not your own strength.

Your opponent will feel your strength but not your technique and intention.

The reason why this works is that “feeling your strength” translates as “holding your strength back”. That feeling of strength comes from projecting outward and inward pulling at the same time. For the involved joints, the agonists and antagonists are firing together.

So, your true strength isn’t delivered. From an opponent’s view, your strength was weakened. In a boxing setting, the punch landed but was ineffective. The punch wasn’t “let go”.

Martial arts instructors address this with a variety of words. But most agree that it’s best to relax, trust the technique, and submit to it. If a student is feeling his strength, muscles tend to be overly stiff. And the technique doesn’t work as well as it should. Movements look wooden.

There is an overlap of projected strength and “The power of Lightness” (see blog dated --), which is a wide-scope life strategy.

With a sense of lightness, muscles and joints are balanced and feel weightless. That sense of lightness correlates with low stress because muscles aren’t fighting each other. It’s interesting that projecting strength and improving health arise from the same principles.

In non-competitive activities (like moving furniture), projecting strength and feeling lightness also apply. When lifting a heavy chair, don’t tense up to feel strong. Instead, focus on the chair “being lifted” by your whole-body intention. As the chair rises, continually shift your body weight such that the chair feels as light as possible. At the end of the day, everything will get moved and you won’t be sore from over-tension.

In summary, feeling your own strength is deceptive – whether it’s against an opponent or not. It’s easier and more effective to trust your intention and techniques. Agonist and antagonists are designed to complement each other. When muscles on one side of a joint contract, muscles on the other side should relax and expand.

Don’t hold your strength back. Let intention flow.


Jack Menear