“Georges St-Pierre, MMA Limb Power & Spinal Stiffness” … Gait Guys style.
Here at ‘The Gait Guys’ we have been going at this teaching, writing and filming process for many years now. On our blog we have written over 900 articles, our YouTube Channel and Facebook page continue to grow and our podcasts continue to be heard presently in 64 countries. We have a long way to go to get our message heard but we trust that our message is clean and clear and based on science and fact. Today we share with you a video of one of our personal professors from our undergraduate studies in human kinetics back in Canada in the late 1980’s, the world renowned Dr. Stuart McGill. In this video he speaks some of these clear honest facts about the spine, movement, joint loading and the sport of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts). Watch the video, but be sure to read on here, where we bring things full circle for our readers.
We have been on a long academic quest when it comes to learning about different types of movement and we are willing to go to great lengths to humble ourselves to further this mission. Many of our long time readers are aware by now that at the end of 2012 Dr. Allen completed 3 years of private study of smooth and Latin dance to better understand the intricacies of core strength, foot work and complex limb coordination amongst other things. If it was good enough for Bruce Lee (1958 Hong Kong Cha Cha Champion) it is good enough for us ! Just like Tim Ferris, one of the modern day bio and brain hackers, who also took up the Tango to put to the test some facts about brain learning, we too are in it to learn and take things to the highest level possible. You can read more about some of Dr. Allen’s neurologic and orthopedic revelations over the 3 years of dance study here in these articles he wrote with Dr. Waerlop.
Gait, Running, Dance, Martial Arts and the Mirror neurons of the brain.
Movement Makes us Better Humans
Many of you by now know that I have moved on from dance (for now) into a different kind of study in human movement. I have now committed my brain and body to learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the instruction of World renowned World Champion Professor Carlos Lemos Jr. and Champion Professor Ryo Ominami. You can read about them here, Gracie Barra Downers Grove.
There are many similarities between dance and jiu-jitsu (believe it, it is true) and we have completed a comparative article which we will post on The Gait Guys blog in the coming days to validate these thoughts on the human frame in both sports. However, this is not the point of this brief blog article today, our point was to share the teachings of one of our mentors Dr. McGill. In this video, showing the research of human movements of Georges St-Pierre and David Loiseau, Dr. McGill discusses the basic tenet that the hips and shoulders are used for power production and that the spine and core are used for creating stiffness and stability for the ultimate power transmission through the limb. He makes it clear that if power is generated from the spine, it will suffer.
McGill implies that martial artists find themselves near the top of the heap when it comes to power, strength and speed with an ability to contract muscles with great velocity but also the ability to relax the muscles with a terrific rate of speed. It is this ability to effectively and timely contract and relax that gives a martial artist the advantage.
However, these advantages can only be realized with a special ability to create spinal stiffness effectively, efficiently and with speed and coordination. These are huge advantages when in combat. We all hear about the importance of the core but these are the tenants that are key when referring to the core. And as McGill states, in martial artists who kick and punch, there must be an ability to create an initial pulse of energy, premised off of a stiff and stable spine. This is then followed by a relaxation of some of the limb muscles to ensure maximal velocity (a kinetic chain whip effect, like snapping/flicking a towel) and then followed by a sudden and timely re-stiffening of the spine, core and limb muscles to ensure that maximal force is transmitted to the opponent.
The spine and core must present sufficient amounts of recruited stiffness, yet mobility where necessary, to enable the power and velocity of the movements of the shoulders (punching) and hips (kicking) which are the two main portals of limb movement off of the spine/core. These principles holds true in gait as well. For example, in human gait the psoas is not a hip flexor initiator when it comes to leg swing, it is a hip flexor perpetuator. The initial hip flexion in human gait comes from derotating the obliqued pelvis, via abdominal contraction, on a stiff and stable spine. Once the pelvis rotation is initiated, the femur can further pendulum forward (via contraction of the psoas and other muscles) on the accelerated pelvis in the hip joint proper creating an energy efficient movement (again, the towel flick/whip effect). So, this premise holds true in gait, in an effective martial arts kick or even in a soccer kick. This is a solid principle of effective and efficient human locomotion. This principle also holds true for a punch or throwing an object, the stable torso/spine provides a stable anchor upon which to accelerate the arm in order to create a high velocity limb movement with power.