One word my students consistently hear me use is ‘posture’. In this two part series I want to look at how posture affects how we feel and also how we perform. Firstly let’s consider our physical performance…

In Hapkido the body should be working as a unit. When you jump, kick, punch, throw, and generally move, power transfers up and down your body. Just like a kink in a hose pipe will stop water from flowing, poor posture will also mean that power transfer is weakened or occurs inefficiently up/down the kinetic chain. For example, the shoulder motion used in a punch might be influenced by restrictions found in the midback muscles, hip region or even ankle joint. When we are in alignment, our bodies can perform most efficiently and will produce the most power.

Developing good movement patterns is key to our practice and our posture will dictate how well we move. We learn and strengthen movement patterns all the time. This means that if we start to adopt poor static posture when we stand or sit at our desks, the chances of that same poor posture appearing dynamically during Hapkido practice has increased significantly.

The most common areas for dysfunction I see in Hapkido students are at the hip/pelvis and at the back/shoulder complex. I would imagine this stems from the time spent working at the computer or from our increasingly sedentary lifestyles.

Poor posture and body mechanics will not only decrease the effectiveness of our Hapkido techniques, but it also exposes us to potential injury and pain. Click on these links for some interesting reading on how poor posture can lead to injury.

So, what can we do to ensure we keep good posture? Where do we start? Well look at how you are sitting right now. Are you slumped at the computer with shoulders forward and a rounded back; or are you sitting up straight, with a tall, relaxed back and shoulders?

We need to start noticing when we compromise our posture in everything we do, not just when we are in class. The better we know ourselves, the more we discover our underlying imbalances, and then can work on activating and strengthening our weaker areas.

But the effect of posture goes much deeper than just our physical performance. In part two, I’ll discuss how our physical posture influences our state of mind, and how we can use that to our advantage.

Posture, power and performance (part one)