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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 Importance of the Ankle. Bookmark

As Bipeds we have extremely refined balance and proprioception systems keeping us upright. Most of the correction and balance maintenance systems work without conscious thought, they simple activate as and when they are required. This is, of course, how it should be! If our conscious mind was occupied with firing muscles to remain standing all the time we would have very little else we could achieve. 

With that said, we can improve our ground connection by Increasing the sensitivity of our balance maintenance systems. The ankle and associated tissues are central to this work.

The ankle is what i describe as a control joint. It controls balance and weight distribution by articulating in association with weight shifts using the various muscles, tendons and tissues of the lower leg. 

The 9 Points of the Feet Bookmark

In some traditions there is a model used for ground contact sensitivity call the 9 points of the feet. This model is very useful for grounding or root training and forms part of the method to increase our Stability. Stability is a fundamental quality for the internal artists, even when stepping and moving very quickly.  This is a model we find in systems where students may be required to perform static single leg standing postures or where rooting is a large factor in the styles outlook.

 

In it we identify the 9 major contact points of the foot and bring our awareness into these areas so as to acutely recognise weight distribution.

 

The importance of Hardness in these Soft Arts Bookmark

The Internal Arts are perhaps best separated from their more externally focused brethren by the softening practices of its practitioners.

 

This focus on 'softness' or on training relaxation, 'sung' or releasing can sometimes actually become the sole priority of some internal arts styles and practitioners. But there are, in fact, many methods that require a cycle of 'hard' and 'soft' training to achieve their goals. Primarily those related to training connection and elastic recoil qualities.

 

It is through targeted loading (with or without applied weight), 'wound' isometric holds and other specific practices (which involve some degree 'hardness') that we are able to condition certain tissues so that they become more elastic, springy and strong. These tissues are the connective tissues of the body, the tendons, ligaments and other types of material generally lumped into tissues known as fascia.

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    The lower crossed syndrome is something that we see to a lesser or greater degree in new students. The lower cross is a term used to describe a specific pattern of muscular imbalance in the lower body which results in pelvic tilting and curvature of the lower back. If left unchecked, internal strength training where we are specifically working on the connective tissues and muscles in this area can actually compound postural problems, as well as increase the likelihood of injury under load. The lower Cross is characterized by a combination of both weakness and tightness in the lower torso. Specifically, tightness in the Thoraco lumbar extensors which is reflected in the hip flexors and weakness in the abdominals reflected in the Gluteals. This specific pattern of imbalance creates joint dysfunction at specific points along the lower spine and will cause the pelvis to tilt forward. Internal arts have specific training methodologies to address this issue. The corrections are achieved through 'releasing' the tightness in the thoracolumbar and hip flexors. We are aiming to bring the lower cross into a relaxed ...