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Check out the latest info and research from Coach Chris' explorations in the Subject of Internal Power.
Switching gears from the recent posts on mind training and associations, lets move back into the subject of tissue development and connection, specifically relating to the back both in terms of health and development for IP.
Utilization of the back and how we can use the connections in the back to transfer force or load between the two sides of the body is a subject seen in a range of Chinese martial arts, in fact there is an art that primarily focuses on this connection, TongbeiQuan. But far from being a strictly Chinese concept we also see the idea in some of the Japanese arts where the Hitoemi or the ‘one line’ concept utilizes this connection.
1) Loop a belt or rope around a pole or tree
2) Stand with feet parallel and shoulder width
3) Hold each end of the loop in each hand
4) Pull with one hand
5) The body will rotate around its axis and the opposite side to the pull will go forward
6) Remove the rope and try to create the same response to the one hand pulling back
Note, due to the connection of the hands via the belt there is no lag or disconnection in the action, as one hand pulls the other must go forward. When trained deeply this through the back connection is instant and simultaneous just like the action when holding the rope or belt.
The Primary muscle groups that we work on to connect and strengthen are :
- Rhomboideus Major / minor
- Teres Minor / Major
- lower trapezius.
- Levator Scapulae
In general, to allow correct use of the shoulder and maintain 6 direction stability in Internal Training, we aim for the shoulders to be sat naturally at the sides with the scapular sunk in and down towards the spine as discussed in the previous post.
However some systems have a specialization that trains a totally different mechanic in the back. This is the idea of the ‘turtle back’ or the rounded back where the shoulders are slung slightly forward, the scapula remain flat to the back but pull away from the spine with the thoracic region is slightly curved.
This posture actually creates an ‘arch’ between the hands which a very powerful and strong upper body structure in the forward direction. We see the prevalence of this posture in some of the Crane Martial Arts where upper body connection is of primary importance. Just like the arch of a bridge, the rounding of the back creates an inherently strong structure.
But there are also some problems and pitfalls with this posture if it is performed incorrectly.
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.
The breath is intimately linked with Internal Practices. Almost all of the internal practies i have researched or encountered have a very close relationship with the breathing system.
Obviously without breath we would not be around to practice, but why is this part of the body process so deeply focused on in the internal arts? Over the next few posts we will be examining a small section of this very large topic!
But firstly and practically, we can say that the breath is a very useful tool to lead relaxation and to remove unwanted tension. When we ask someone to relax, one of their natural responces (if they are not thinking too hard) is to let out their breath. This is the natural way for us to release tension.
In Traditional Chinese theory there is a point in the middle of the lumbar region of back that is believed to be the centre of ‘Vitality’ and where the original life essence of the individual is based, this point is called the ‘Ming Men’.
Located at between the L2 & L3 vertebra, a couple of inches above the line of the Iliac crest in most people, this point is of foundational importance to Chinese Medicine and their associated practices. It is thought to be responsible for ‘warmth’ in the body, for fuelling correct metabolic action and organ function in these traditional systems.
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.
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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