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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 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.

The utility of the spiral Bookmark

In the internal arts the ‘spiral’ holds a special place in the mind and body of the practitioners. Along with the circle, it is the most commonly targeted shape in the body development methods, but what is it about the spiral that makes it so useful and important to the internal artist?

If you watch the motions of a Ba Gua practitioner or a Taiji Adept, you will notice the clear circularity and ‘twist’ in their motions, it is characteristic of these styles. But there is more to the Spiral in internal training than simply the outward appearance of specific motions.

Martial Movements Bookmark

Switching gears away from intent training, but in a related vein, in this post we will be exploring how different types of movement can create opportunities and effects in a Martial Exchange.


The study of the mechanics found in the combat arts is, at its core, the search for efficiency in dealing with forces. These could be forces acting upon us, or forces that we produce to act on others. Forces as we mean them here encompass all possible martial tactics and motions, be that the forces produced from Grappling with a partner or the concussive forces created through striking or impact.


How we move, and using which principle, will have wildly different implications for the interaction with the partner or opponent. The situation dictates the type of motion that is appropriate but it is fair to say that our aim is almost always to maximize the how our force is perceived by the opponent. Here we will explore some of the ways in which forces can be created or applied in general terms, the types of power we see in the fighting arts and their utility to the various combative fields.

Following the lines of intent Bookmark

In the last few articles we have looked at ‘Intent’ and its physiology as it relates to the internal arts, so in this article I will provide a couple of practical ways in which we can practice following the line of our intent to improve our movement.

There is a saying in the internal arts that one ‘follows the line of intent’, this is the process of moving in accordance with our will to act using the Intent as the link between the mind and the motion. But there is more to this concept than simply following how we would like to move.

Preparation for movement Bookmark

Linked to the last article, in this post we will be talking about how ‘mental preparation’ increases performance and how this is utilized by the Internal Arts. Most notably in the form of the intent training method called ‘Move before you move’.


There are several very well-known examples of mental preparation being used by elite level performers to increase their physical capability. Perhaps most strikingly this is seen in Olympic Weight Lifters who will often spend time behind the bar in deep focus and concentration, then time with their hands on the bar with a yet deeper level of focus before attempting and completing their lift. Indeed, we often hear of unsuccessful lifts that ‘His mind wasn’t there’ or ‘He lost his focus’ rather than ‘he wasn’t strong enough’.

The effect of mind on movement Bookmark

Following on from the previous article, today we will talk about one of the most fundamental aspects of internal power training, utilizing our intent to enhance and fuel our movement. Some systems of internal art place this concept at the very forefront of the system, Xing Yi Quan being a prominent example. The important of ‘intent’ should not be overlooked by the practitioner as it is both a useful training tool and a fundamental movement enhancer.


Intent can have many different interpretations in the various internal arts, there are some who say it means mind, some who say it means visualization, still others who say it is the direct use of our nervous systems, or others who identify it as the will to move energy around the body. For the purpose of clarity in this article I will use my own definition of Intent as it relates to the Internal practices I teach, but understand and accept that others may well define this idea differently for instance some would define my ideas on Intent as 'will power' (zhi rather than Yi).

 

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