Every time you strike a person, their body attempts to absorb the energy and prevent it from destroying internal organs, nerves, and arteries. The human body, after all, has been designed from long evolutionary processes not to “just die” from an impact. That is the defensive viewpoint.
From the offensive viewpoint, the reaction to the action (attack) is that your own body bends backwards from the point of contact as the force naturally seeks the path of least resistance. Sometimes that is the target, but more often times that is you, the originator of the energy.
Thus we see this often times when a person pushes another person. Depending on weight class and rooting structure, Person B may fly away, Person A may fly away, or both may fly away. But like billiards balls, all kinds of “strange things” can happen as well. The force may neutralize so A and B stick together and don’t move… anywhere. The force may cause an instant reverberation so that A and B fly away from each other at the same speed and time.
In martial arts, the basic concept is rather simple (though open to variation and modification). Given balls A, B, and C lined up in a row, when the martial artist hits ball A to make it impact B, the transfer of force should be 100%, total, efficient and no backflow allowed. Meaning, ball A speeds up mightily to hit ball B, ball B takes that force and obtains the same speed as ball A while ball A stops dead. This is a basic prerequisite but does not always lead to the goal (internal destruction of the human body).
The goal in martial arts is to get things done. Often times, that means destroying life. Life in this sense being a functioning human brain and body. Thus when A, B, and C balls touch each other, the martial artist merely has to poke A with his finger and C blows up. As in explosively. B is fine, C is dead. Or alternatively, when the martial artist pokes ball A, ball B flies up in the air, impacts the ceiling and then falls to the ground and breaks apart, leaving ball C showing no reaction whatsoever.
Now a magician or trickster or pool shark may have the technical skills to get the billiards balls to do something like that, but I don’t really care about that because the goal of martial art is not to develop techniques and concepts for winning at billiards. The goal of a martial art is to develop methods and concepts that manipulate the human body: whether to create life or to destroy it. Mere metaphors are just a way for people to more easily grasp the concept.
Since humans disagree and do things very differently from person to person, tribe to tribe, nation to nation, so the same applies to martial arts. It’s important to understand the difference and why there even is one to begin with.
My martial art’s sole focus is in creating techniques that use freely given power to destroy human organs or functionalities, thus shutting off the brain as something that is 1. alive or 2. functional. In traveling this road, I picked up various other things such as health boosting exercises, healing methods, and life saving preventive measures (first aid) but that wasn’t the “goal of the journey”.
In order to effectively transfer power, you must 1. prevent the target from escaping the full fury of the force and 2. you must prevent your body from taking the feedback as the force attempts to go back into you. The easiest practical example is when someone is on the ground, you jump a few feet up, and then land on their chest, going from straight up to straight down (due to gravity). Most people good in physics or math can come up with equations to calculate the effect. Common sense will also do it for those people who cannot comprehend the forces at play. Here the ground, the Earth, serves as a perfect block that prevents the human body from absorbing incoming force. As you jump down and land on your feet, gravity is pulling you down, so for your force to go back up to you, it would have to be strong enough to lift you up and jump you out of the earth’s gravity well (if only for a few seconds).
To put it another way, strap a person to a wall, then have him get hit by a train that has had its rails directed towards the wall person. That is actually a pretty “loose” way to effectively transfer force, since the train will tend to destroy the wall along with the person, but this is an example of where “inhuman levels of force overcomes defenses”. Whereas in martial arts, we cannot quite exceed “human force levels” for long, so must conserve our power and find more efficient ways to apply it.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this reinterpretation of martial art concepts and principles using Western methods of thinking.