The Internal Power Training Blog

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

The anatomy of Connection Bookmark

One of the initial focuses of Internal Arts training is to create a body that is connected and structured with healthy tissue. If you look at virtually any physical training methodology you will see the initial sections of their training devoted to alignment, strength, endurance and connection.  Internal Power Training is no different, but the strength and endurance we are looking to build has a alternative quality.

As we have discussed in previous posts, the development of the tissues is required to create the unified body, but this can now be broken down a little further into major directions of expression and the related tissue development that is required to achieve action along them. In this post we will look at how muscle chains linked via fascia form ‘lines’ in the body that are responsible for the major motions our body can create. The body lines are the major chains of tissue that we use as humans, often without realizing.

Major body lines and the planes of motion have been identified for centuries through various terms and phrases, but the easiest way to witness them is look at how the human body moves in its actions during normal demands.


Thomas Myers book ‘Anatomy Trains’ is a seminal work on these lines of tissue. In it, he outlines what they lines are, what muscle groups are involved and how they are used. I would recommend this excellent work to anyone truly interested in a deep exploration of the anatomy of these lines. Here my aim is simply to bring these major lines to your attention in order to help re-enforce and quantify some of the movement and developmental methods in Internal Power Training.

But first, I would just like to briefly discuss separation as it relates to body methods. It is easy for us to break methods like these down into its component parts in order to examine them in more detail. Indeed, this site is most probably focused towards that specific point. But it is extremely important that we remember that these individual concepts are never, at any stage separated from the whole. The body, mind, breath and the various chains of tissue are all ‘one thing’ and will always be one thing, so we should practice with the understanding that ‘one thing’ is the ultimate goal. Here is where the good coach or teacher becomes invaluable. Their expertise and understanding will allow you to develop competency in one aspect of IP while the others are improved too.

I mention this in this post and over the coming posts, because we are about to ‘slice up’ the body into a number of specific muscle groups and lines and it would be easy for the reader to think that these are all that matter. However they are part of an all encompassing network of connections permeating the body. Much like a football, made of numerous bits of leather, but none are independent or separate from the other when the ball is used. The gaps between these lines are a wide ranging network of minor body lines, webs and networks that are just as vital to the healthy human as the major ones described here.


The Axis is often thought to be the ‘centre line’ of the human body, and although his concept is useful for some training methods, the Axis is better described as the deep front line, superficial front line and the back lines of the body. These chains of tissue in the body are made up of muscles and fascia that link the top and base of the head to the lower torso and pelvis. The axis is often mistakenly thought to be the spine but this doesn't take into consideration the tissues concerned, although it is of course relevant.  The axis tissue is responsible for causing bowing in the sagittal and coronal planes, as well as creating waves and spirals. It is one of the first lines to work with in order to correctly align the torso for further postural development and to develop the springy body like that of the Internal Arts Expert.


(Dang Jin) - The bodies inner support structure

The laying down of thicker and stronger tissue on the inside of the legs is a core component of internal power training.  The postures that develop these tissues are often called the ‘horse’ or ‘horse riding’ stances. When done a certain way the practitioner will effectively ‘sit’ on the inside lines of the legs like the arch of a bridge and develop the ‘rooting’ capabilities so famous in these systems. This is the ‘crotch arch’ and is normally the second line of focus in training.


The pillars of the body.

Almost all Chinese internal arts forms start in a similar manner; the arms start by the practitioner’s sides, the posture is neutral, then the arms are raised. As the arms rise the side lines are revealed and engaged and the support pillars of the body are utilized like a suspension bridge. We can think of them as bands of tissue located from the arm pit to the outer ridge of the foot. They are extremely important in their role for overall body stability, alignment and the control of the pelvic movement out to the sides. These lines also help to fuel twisting and rebound forces.


The arm bridges are the links between the hands through to the back and front of the body that control how we move the arms in relation to the body position.  Obviously our arms are physically connected to our body, but here we are talking about the chains of tissue leading from inside the torso all the way to the hands and ultimately to the finger tips. Through targeted training we can increase this connection resulting in unified motion to and from the centre.


Like our DNA forming a spiralling helix, one of the major body lines used in internal training is also a spiral. We can think of this line as a strap that runs around the body both keeping it stable and also connecting both halves, much like a corset. This is perhaps the strongest link through the body as it feeds directly though the tissue nexus of the Lower dan tien Point or QiHai and the back lumbar point or the Ming Men.

In upcoming posts we are going to look at these lines and there utility individually.

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