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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.

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.

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.

Moving from the Centre Bookmark

The first topic I would like to cover is one that we see presented as central to almost all of the internal arts, and in fact, many of the external arts as well, the concept and practice of ‘Moving from the centre’. This idea has permeated the martial arts for centuries and is at the very core of some of the most famous martial styles, from old styles of KenJutsu to relatively modern arts like I Chuan, the concept, practice and methods of moving via the centre are widespread and deeply rooted.

Exploring every avenue ... Bookmark

In a step away from the mechanics of internal power, this post will deal with a subject that I come up against time and again in the internal arts community. A subject hotly debated but rarely agreed upon. The subject of ‘chi’.

 

More specifically I would like to address my apparent rejection of ‘Chi’ as a useful term in my writings and teachings.

 

It would be fair to say that for many years, the idea of Chi and the use of the term was a part of my practice. I had some teachers who would use the term regularly to describe feelings experienced during practice or to explain how they were able to create certain effects in a partner. So why do I so rarely use it now in my teachings or practice?

Moving Slowly to be Fast Bookmark

When we think of the Internal Arts we often think of the slow motion practice or people standing in static postures but there is an interesting phenomena related to these practices. One which we see in combative exchange but is not immediately apparent in these fundamental training methods. This is the ability for some internal artists to move at blindingly fast speeds even though much of their training can be focused moving slowly.


How does static posture training or slow movement practice actually increase the speed of the practitioner? The two ideas seem to be at odds!

There are several factors at play here but first we can say that moving slowly or holding a static position makes us better able to recognize precisely how much effort is needed to perform a given action.


There is a physical law known as the Weber Fenscher Law which states:


’The higher the speed of a given movement, the less able we become to recognise the power required to perform it.’

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