Copyright © 2006 Sam Allred

YES….of course size makes a difference in fighting, but here is my slightly more detailed explanation of that fact and some exceptions.

DEFINITIONS for this article:

  • ATTACKING LIMB in this article may be defined as the attacking or the blocking arm, leg, elbow, knee, head, and

  • MOMENTUM, in this article, indicates the amount of damage caused by an attacking limb. More momentum, more damage.

  • MASS refers to the weight of the attacking limb, along with the power behind the blow.

  • VELOCITY is the speed at which the attacking limb is moving.

  • Long before Descartes, Galileo, and Newton, the fact has been known that size directly influences momentum. However, they contributed to perfecting the concept and to developing formulas dealing with momentum, such as:

    momentum (p) = mass (M) x velocity (v)
    or, p=Mv

    In its simplest terms, doubling the mass doubles the momentum (p= 2M x v) or tripling the mass triples the momentum (p=3M x v). Likewise, doubling or tripling the velocity equally doubles or triples the momentum (p = M x 2v) or (p= M x 3v).

    According to the above formula, then, the amount of damage inflicted by the attacking limb (negating the vulnerability of its target) is dependent on the mass of the attacking limb multiplied by its speed. By doubling its speed of movement, the momentum will also be doubled. By doubling the muscular power behind the attacking limb, the momentum also will be doubled. By doubling the speed of the punch the momentum will, according to the formula, also be doubled. Twice the speed could make up for half the mass.

    There are other variables which affect the momentum, some of which are cited below.

    Can a person with an attacking limb twice as heavy as another person do two times the damage the other can do IF both of their attacking limbs are moving at the same velocity? No, although in theory “yes.”

    The mass of the attacking limb is, in essence, changed by the muscular strength and the amount of body weight behind the attacking limb. The muscular power (strength) that you direct into the attacking limb will help to compensate for a lighter (smaller) attacking limb. And, attacking with only the upper arm is not nearly as efficient as it could be by properly rotating the hips and distributing body weight so as to include of the weight of the body behind the strike, which in effect, multiplies the mass of the attacking limb.

    Damage done is also influenced by the density of the attacking limb, or how solid or flaccid its muscles are. With an arm weighing 10 pounds, solidly tensed muscles might be somewhat equated with being hit with a 10 pound brick, while flaccid loose muscles might be equated with being hit with a 10 pound pillow. Loose muscles act like shock absorbers, so tensed muscles in the attacking limb are important. A small muscular person with solid muscles and knowledge of putting his body's weight into the punch could obtain more momentum than a large non-muscular person who lacks knowledge of how to put his body's weight into his punch.

    Furthermore, the area of the attacking limb which contacts the other person makes a difference. As an example, if the attacking limb has a certain momentum and the entire front area of the fist is 10 square inches, the power will be divided over the entire 10 inches. If, however, any single knuckle should have an area of 1 square inch and if the same momentum is delivered with only that one knuckle, the force causing the damage would be 10 times more than if distributed over the entire 10 inches. That's why martial arts punches often concentrate their power on the central knuckle, and why some martial artists develop calluses on that knuckle.

    So yes…size makes a difference, all other things being equal…but by strengthening your muscles, learning hip displacement and body movement (and balance), striving for speed in attacks, concentrating power in a smaller area, and attacking vital areas, and of course by mastering Kajukenbo techniques, size difference may be minimized or overcome if you are a small person.

    Then, there's the concept of ATTITUDE--click here ;-).

    Back to INDEX--Click Here

    P.S. David, on the left of the above photo, has never had a streetfight but has avoided many. Panchito, on the right, has literally had over a hundred streetfights, while living on the street for years.

    Posted on January 17, 2010.

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