Lining up the body
Make sure you line up the body so you can push and pull with the legs and trunk of your body, not just the arms. Any angle or bend in the arms and legs results in a loss of energy and effectiveness. It is especially important that the angle of the shoulder never exceed 180 degrees. To demonstrate to yourself – let your arms hang down to the sides of the body so that the palms are facing the outsides of the thighs. Now bring the arms straight up to the sides until the straight arms are parallel to the ground. The angle of the shoulder is now at what I call 180 degrees.
Turn the palms to face forward. Now slowly bring the palms towards each other in the front, as if squeezing something with a bit of resistance. If you have a training partner, have them face you, place their hand against yours, and give resistance to your squeeze. You can do it with two arms or one. What you want to feel is how much energy you need to bring the arms together. You also want to pay close attention to how this action feels in the shoulder. Is it comfortable or is there the feeling of stress?
Now open the arms more, so that the straight to the side arms are behind the body. Do the same test. How does that feel? I’m pretty sure you will feel much more stress in the shoulder joint with a loss of power. The further behind the body, the greater the stress and loss. Test it out.
Now put the straight arms, palms facing each other, in the front of the body, with the fingers facing about 45 degrees to the corners, like holding a large ball. Now squeeze. How does that feel? Much more comfortable, much more strength and power.
You have just demonstrated to yourself the reason why we never let the arms get behind the body. It is the same with letting the elbows get behind the body. Stress on shoulders, loss of power. Put the elbows behind the body, palms facing forward and have you partner hold your arms from pushing forward. Easy to hold them back. Now hold the arms, bent at the elbow, but raise the elbows to the side, upwards. See how easy it is to control the arms. Now put the arms, palms facing forward, elbows close to the body but not too tight, in front of the body, and push ahead using the legs. Hard to stop it. You have demonstrated to yourself the power of using the legs, keeping the elbows close to the body and slightly in front. Valuable lessons.