(You have to be a little bit careful-- some students will take things that they know and jump to believing that they understand and can use it, and that may not be justified. When I say empowering I am specifically saying increasing power, increasing competence. You can easily increase confidence without competence. That rarely ends well.)
After the last seminar, I got the usual batch of questions. One struck me, because it implied that the person-- a good martial artist-- had learned footwork separate from hand motion and was having trouble integrating the two.
Outside the martial arts, this is rare. A basketball player doesn't practice dribbling in place and then a specific running step for dribbling and then try to mesh them later with a specific canned rhythm. Maybe swimmers do practice kicks in isolation from arm strokes. Do they? For how long? In football (American football) slamming into people and running are parts of each other. With a good coach, so are the vulnerabilities of balance in the other person's run.
Many beginning martial artists separate offense and defense, put them in different boxes in their heads. Use them as distinct motions with distinct mindsets. That's often bothered me. But Jonas pointed out months ago that many learn an attack as a move, and then learn power generation separate from that motion BUT learn the power generation as specific to that attack. So some never learn to attack with power and some learn to attack powerfully with part of their repertoire but not all and very few ever learn that power generation is a basic that applies in the same way across all of their techniques.
Swinging an axe (or a pick or sledge) the hand slide is pretty much the only thing that need to be taught. There is foot work in it, and wave-action power generation that exploits gravity... and those don't need to be taught, because pretty much everybody does those naturally. With an axe or a sledge, we all know how to use momentum, make the weight do our swing for us. Turn the axe into a weapon and for some reason people complicate everything, break it down into tiny pieces, teach each of those pieces separately... and maybe forget a few of those pieces when it is time to use use the axe.
I'm starting to realize that people do this in martial training. Maybe I'm overanalyzing, seeing bigger problems than exist. But I do see people acting as if offense and defense, how they position and move their arms, footwork and how they control their centers of gravity are all separate things. Things that they must think of individually, do separately, and somehow bring together in the moment.
None of these things are separate when we walk. Or when we played tag as kids. You don't think about them climbing or gardening...
I think this may be why so many martial artists, who should be paragons of graceful and efficient motion, move so awkwardly. They break it down too far and then think about it too much. It's just motion, something you have done from birth. You can make it better and more efficient with hints, demonstration, experience.
We all know how to shut a car door with our hips when we are carrying grocery bags. It took me five years to truly understand something as a martial artist that I had been doing most of my adult life and that every mom I knew was a master at. Five years to get to a place that I lived in in my non-martial life.
You don't have to explain structure when someone pushes a car. All the wrong ways hurt. I've seen untrained people flinch to something coming at their face with the kind of structured power that internal artists dream of.
When you get a chance, dump isolation for a few sessions. Move as a unit. Don't let yourself think about footwork or how your strikes should go. Just hit the bag. The wrong ways hurt and, if you've trained for any time, good movement should be internalized (and if internalized movement hurts, it may be bad movement, like the deliberate safety flaw of the pronated fist). Your body knows how to move. Let it instead of make it.