Physics Of The Whip
You can imagine a buggy-whip. The main "Gimmick" is the
Taper. When swung, the hand moves slowly under twenty miles per
hour. A traveling wave moves into the "thick" part, and travels
toward the "thin" part. The wave speeds up, because there is
less mass to carry the same energy. When the wave reaches
the tip, it is a tiny, mass moving faster than sound. The
"crack" is a tiny "sonicboom", proving this point.
In a similar way, the whipping motion sends a wave of motion from you
(heavy) forearm, to your (light) fingertips, which move at tremendous
speed. To understand why this is more effective, consider the block of
wood. If you hit is slowly, it would bend a little and push back, hard, or
it would move away. But hit it fast, and the center part
instantly starts to move, before
the rest of the wood even get the message. The wood bends, but has no
chance to push back and slow the motion. It breaks. The wood was not able
to "bounce back the energy", like a trampoline. The wood nearest
the hit was suddenly moving fast, and it bent too far before it could
The wood actually "pulls apart" on the side opposite the hit.
Like most materials, wood can be compressed or pulled sideways, but it is
weakest when being torn apart.
Since the wood won't "compress"
very much on the inside curve, it ends up getting "stretched" on
the outside curve, which is where it starts to crack. The crack then
follows the path of stress straight through the wood.
If the hit is snappy enough, the shock wave goes through the wood and
knocks a piece out the other side. The rest breaks as usual.
Here is the same thing on a pool table-the balls touch in a perfect
straight line. The incoming ball stops dead. The three center balls never
As the fingertip approaches the wood air is trapped under pressure,
forming a tiny, cup-shaped depression in the tissue.
So the impact begins before the hand touches the wood, and is cushioned.
The effect at the wood is to increase the impact.
The harder the wood, the less it "gives". The shock-wave is
"focused" to a small spot on the wood, because the cupped tissue
acts like a parabolic reflector. This is the same principle as a
"shape charge" explosion used to pierce armor plate.
The previous example show that the hand need not penetrate the wood.
This is called "transfer of momentum" and happens before
the wood can move. The hand stops or bounces back, just as the
wood begins to move.
Why is this different from a bullet?
The bullet is several times denser than the wood. So the impact force
moves the wood before the (equal) breaking force slows the bullet.
Also, the bullet moves faster than sound. So the bullet moves into the
wood before the shock wave can push the wood out of the way.
Advantages of the WHIP and how it compares to other hits
needs little preparation
the only way on can move and commit completely in one direction
and, without stopping or losing speed, reverse direction
size, weight and gender or person using it makes no difference
can be thrown from any angle, anywhere close to or far from the
body without losing effectiveness or form
completely confusing to the opponent
seldom used or known
needs no particular state of emotional preparation compared to
the fastest way to generate the most power using any or all parts
of the body
needs no previous conditioning of flesh or bone being used to hit
adds power to even the most rigidly used movement
can be adjusted while in flight or when totally committed to a
move, to compnesate for a change in the position or angle of the desired
Copyright © 1998 by Guy L. Savelli. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Except as otherwise provided by law, this writing may not be
produced in whole or in part, in any manner.