Exercises for a fuller fist
In Ryabko and Vasiliev systema they talk about a fist being full during a punch, but what does this concept mean in practical terms and how can we use core stability training to develop this quality?
What is fullness and how does it relate to the fist?
Vladimir Vasiliev described on his forum fullness as follows, “A good way to understand 'fullness' is to look at a green apple and at a ripe one. When it is ripe, you see and sense that it is correct, balanced, and contains the force of life in it. When the body is 'full', it contains the physical power, the energy, and the clean thought in the right balance. We intuitively know that a green apple is not convincing and that a 'full' arm sure is.”
In context with a fist used in punching it means first that the fist is aligned in a balanced way with the correct form and amount of localised tension. Movements made with it should be made in a decisive manner and not with nervousness or other negative emotion attached.
Alignment and the heavy arm
So let us look at the correct alignment for the fist and what I mean by selective tension. As can be seen in the following pictures the bottom of the fist and the back of the hand are both in alignment with the respective surfaces of the forearm. The thumb is held lightly on top of the fist and unlike holding it in a similar position to karate this causes less tension in the thumb joint and hand. Though a perfectly placed strike with the flat of the fist will cause little deflection of the wrist joint because of the position it is in there are few strikes in real fights that land perfectly. Also the Systema fist is a multi-tool with various different striking surfaces that cause forces to be applied to the wrist from a variety of vectors.
For this reason there has to be an element of tension to maintain the structure and correct any deflection in the wrist joint to prevent either loss of force in the strike or injury to our own hand and wrist while hitting. Unfortunately some people believe the word relaxed means floppy in Systema, but this is not the case. In the principles of movement we learnt that relaxed means that only the muscles necessary to carry out a movement are used and that they are only tensed sufficiently to get the task done.
For that reason the rest of the muscles in the arm need the ability to remain relaxed or to tense up with the correct timing while the wrist remains tense. Just imagine what would happen if every time we formed a fist we tensed our biceps and shoulder muscles. We would find our punches dramatically limited in force and direction that they can be thrown from.
This is one reason for Michael Ryabko teaching his students punches by having them practice press ups using their fists on their training partners. The instability provided by their bodies gives the propriocepters in the wrist the chance to develop localised strength whilst the other muscles involved in a punch either relax or tense as necessary to execute a movement pattern similar to a punch.
By knowing this fact how can we use modern training methods to isolate and improve this quality?
Core ball training for punching
I first introduced a group outside my own students to this during a weekend residential camp taught by myself and Robert Poynton in 2007 and have not found a better method for rehabilitation of weak wrists or developing the localised tension in the wrist needed to hit hard.
On this clip I will run quickly through the progression of exercises that I use and recommend you use them in the same order.
Do not try to run before you can walk. The press ups on the unsupported ball are very challenging. If you struggle with the other exercises spend more time on them before moving on to this final stage.
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