Form or Function

by Sensei Mike Pepe

The words “form or function” have been the topic of many a conversation since the advent of MMA fighting however, “Form or function” was actually the title of an article published in BlackBelt Magazine in September of 1981, and from where the information for this essay is taken.

   Do it right or make it work. The fighters want to make it work…The artists want to do it right.


Practicing basics by punching air accomplishes many things; first, it gives the practitioner a chance to throw full power punches without the fear of being hit in return. It also makes for an aesthetic looking punch, but is the punch just a paper tiger? Punching air does nothing to test the power or alignment of the body, arm, or fist.


 When a punch hits a solid object there is transference of power (we call recoil) back into the fist and further into the puncher’s body. Imagine if even just the wrist were out of alignment, the punch would then have no power and any recoil would cause damage the wrist at the point, out of alignment.


When punches are needed in an actual situation, many problems arise. Because the target is not still, it is very hard (impossible?) to hit the exact target you’ve aimed at. The distance is constantly changing making it hard to focus on the target and, your opponent is trying to hit you! It is a far cry from the perfect dojo punch!


To add to a punches ineffectiveness, if you withdraw the non-punching hand to the hip you render it ineffective in its ability to block. This means in a real fight you’d have to give up a little power in order to protect your body from attacks by using this withdrawing hand for defensives.


So as the title asks… form or function??

A warrior rambling

Sensei Mike





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