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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.

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.

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.

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 Cross Body Bookmark

The final line of connection in the internal arts we are going to look at in this group of articles is the cross body or spiral line. Many people consider the cross body connection to be key to the interesting body methods, load or force management techniques and movement dynamics of the internal arts.

 

At its most basic level the cross body connection allows us to actively utilize the opposite sides of the body in harmony with each other. If you think about someone walking naturally, swinging their arm forward as the opposite leg is forward, this is a classic example of this cross body connection in use. But this attribute of body motion and the associated tissues has a deeper reaching consequence for the internal artist.

The Side Lines Bookmark

In this article we will look at one of the less considered lines of the body, the side lines, and their purpose in the Internal Arts. In the internal martial arts we often see the discussion focused around the ‘centre’, the axis, the root and the arm bridges, but rarely do we look at the sides of the body specifically and how they are important in motion, stability and power generation.

 

The Side lines can be thought of as the support pillars of the body, they are like the towers of a suspension bridge providing a stable side to the body in the Coronal plane, but they actually have several active functions that are vital to the unified body.

The Crotch Arch Bookmark

Across the hundreds of different styles of martial arts, from distant parts of the globe there is often one common posture that is found. It is a posture that demonstrates control, power and security in the legs and is often likened to the posture a rider takes when straddling a horse, the famous Ma Bu or horse stance. This posture so common because it deals with a fundamental part of the body training required in the martial arts, the stable base.

 

This posture, so common to many martial traditions is the result masters from a wide range of styles identifying the importance of the interior tissues of the legs in support, mobility, stability and movement. These tissues are identified as the ‘Crotch Arch’ or in some systems the ‘Dang’.

 

The Upper body or Arm Bridges Bookmark

In the internal arts we often use the term ‘Bridging’ in relation to contacting with the partners arms. But there is another use for this term that relates to the connection of the arms to the torso and it is that connection that we will explore in this post.

 

The Arm or upper body bridges are the front and back connections of the arms into the torso and are one of the major development focuses for the Internal Martial Artists. They are perhaps one of the most important areas of focus for practitioners due to the common misalignment and systemic tensions from poor posture or lifestyle that can manifest in them.

Training the Axis Bookmark

Following on from the previous post we are now going to dig into the relevance of specific lines for internal arts movement, power and methods and we will start with perhaps the most important of all the lines the Axis.

The Axis can describe several things in the internal arts, from the conceptual ‘center line’,  to the spine itself,  to the tissues of the central channel of the body. All of these definitions have their place and purpose, however much of the time we see them intermingled or used in conjunction with each other. The process of producing the spine wave for instance is not solely a spine related endeavor, instead needing the action of the deep tissues of the torso in order to create the action.  Rotation of the torso to equalize incoming forces does not only related to the turning of the body around a conceptual center line but also how the spine flexes and how the tissues twist during the demand.

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