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The Internal Power Training Blog

Check out the latest info and research from Coach Chris' explorations in the Subject of Internal Power.

The Quality of Stability Bookmark

jigaroKano-Mifune
Grab hold of any high-level Judo-Ka and try to drag them around the mat and you notice one clear attribute, stability. In the grappling arts especially, the skill of stability is a core component of the training methods and one of the main attributes that is built.

Stability can be thought of as our ability to maintain control of our posture, position, motion, and mass, either when we move ourselves or when we move in association with a partner or opponent.

From heavy to Light Bookmark

It is common in the internal arts for practitioners to focus on their ability to ‘Root’ or maintain a type of sinking stability. We see this phenomenon in myriad videos of TaiJi practitioners performing fixed step push hands for instance, where the slightest step is seen as a failure or defeat.

Certainly, if you have read my recent article on the skill of being heavy you will note this ability is a very useful one both for health and combat. However, there is another side to the coin when it comes to the body skill in the internal arts, one that is often neglected but remains equally important none the less. The skill of lightness.

Legs - Open & Close Bookmark

In this article I am going to introduce one of the first ideas found in the internal arts relating to the use of the legs. The method we will discuss here has a number of unique advantages, from the co-ordination of multiple muscle groups to the use of the earth in relation to the center. However, more importantly, it means that we maintain legs that are active, rather than simply relegating them to posts that we balance our weight on! The methods in this article are the absolutely basic first step to present the ideas, we will cover more details in future articles.

Using the Whole Body Bookmark

Whole body power forms the bedrock of the internal arts. Our abilities to move every part of our body in harmony is as fundamental to the health benefits as it is to the martial effectiveness found in these styles. In this article we will explore one aspect of this whole body work, which I call the attribution of effort technique.

Softness from Extension Bookmark

The internal arts are often referred to as the ‘Soft’ Martial Arts. It is an interesting term because anyone who has been on the receiving end of a high level internal adepts power would certainly not describe it as soft, so what is it about these arts that gained them this distinction?

 

Many of the mechanics of the internal arts are predicated on our ability to release or address tension. As we have discussed in previous articles on speed, connection, and heaviness, without the correct levels of relaxation, much of what makes these efficient will not be there. The tense practitioner will constantly be ‘breaking’ their expression of power as it travels through sports of tension or tight tissue.

The skill of being heavy Bookmark

One defining attribute of almost all high level martial artists is their ability to feel ‘Heavy’.  Certainly, if you have ever interacted with high level grapplers you will have felt this attribute and boxers will often talk about a fighter ‘heavy hands’. But far from being a natural gift, this quality of ‘weight’ is a skill that can be trained and has implications for both the practitioners health as well as their combative potential.

 

In this article, we will explore some of the ways in which Internal Arts practitioners can create what I call the ‘Heavy Body’ attribute and how this translates into martial practices and health.

Extending the mind. Bookmark

In the last article I talked about the idea of ‘no mind’ in the martial arts being one of the highest forms of competence. But there is another process that we see mentioned time and again in martial traditions from many parts of the globe. In the Japanese arts, it is known as Zanshin and in the Chinese sheng xing and it represents a key aspect of focus for the martial artist, it is the concept known as ‘after awareness’ or literally the ‘remaining mind’, but we can say that as a general idea it is in extending the mind and creating focus, or awareness.

Born out of the life and death struggle of war and the practical requirement for warriors to be fully aware of themselves, their surroundings and their situation, the remaining mind held a special place for the ancient martial artists.

Moving with No Mind Bookmark

"If one reaches the deepest point, arms, legs and body remember what to do; But the mind does not enter into this at all"

Zen master - Takuan Soho

What is the highest level of the internal arts when looking at movement? The highest level is not in the complexity of forms or the speed at which the adept can move, instead it is the ability to move in accordance with the foundational principles without having to consciously adhere to them. This ability creates a type of movement that is simply ‘correct’, it is correct for the moment the adept finds themselves in, it is correct in that it adheres to the bio-mechanical ideals of their particular martial art and it is correct in that it requires no fore thought or force of will to achieve.

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