Thursday, August 16, 2012

Martial Arts and Dance

    While the two disciplines have remarkably different goals (fun and style vs practicality and combat), they are very intertwined. In fact, some martial arts have combined the two elements into one style, such as Capoeira, and some dance styles have incorporated martial arts techniques into their arsenal. In fact, professional MMA fighters have taken ballet to improve their chances in the ring.

   The upper body movements are often completely different and present the illusion that the two are not connected. The real connection comes when one examines the foot and leg movements.

Let's examine some of the more popular dance styles of today:


Melbourne Shuffle:


    Now let's look at them one by one. The first video was jumpstyle. Jumpystyle is  largely influenced by traditional European folk dances and makes use of repetitive short hops and kicking movements. The "tricks" thrown in between the basic moves are generally aerial and have a high resemblance to Taekwondo-based kicks, such as the 540 roundkick. Chambering of the leg, as seen in Taekwondo and Karate, is also often implemented.

 Next, we saw the Melbourne Shuffle. The Melbourne Shuffle consists almost exclusively of ankle rotations to the left and right, mixed with the "Running Man". This simple movement is the major component of power generation in all kicks, regardless of the martial art (a notable exception may be the basic front kick). By extension, the shuffle to the left or right is the exact same ending movement that Bruce Lee used in his famous stepping sidekick, except that the extending leg does not tend to go above the thigh. The mechanics are the same. This technique is seen at approximately the 1:00 mark in the below video.

  Lastly, we saw Rebolation. Sometimes called the Brazilian version of the Melbourne Shuffle, it incorporates elements of shuffling and jumpstyle, as well as various other movements. The fluidity of transitioning from a "hopping" movement to a "shuffling" movement, as seen in Rebolation, is a major problem for people entering MMA who need to transition from standup to a clinch. Called "pummeling" in Muay Thai, this happens when the transition is made from striking distance into a clinch. Once in the clinch, upper body rotation is used to achieve positional superiority by gaining either double underhooks or upperhooks. However, using pure upperbody strength would be exhausting and MT fighters will use footwork, especially footwork resembling the "pivot walk" seen in Rebolation, to position themselves and give their upperbody extra torque, while remaining rooted firmly to the ground.

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