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 Scapula Bookmark

In the martial arts there are a wide variety of ways in which we can use the upper back. Some styles like to round it, some like to keep it flat with the shoulders back, some do not have any consideration of this area. But when we talk of connection and the development of internal power there are some important considerations, not least the position of the Scapula.

The Scapula are two wide flat bones that provide attachment for 3 different muscle groups.

The first which includes the Teres Minor, infraspinatus etc attaches to the Surface of the Scapula and are responsible for internal and external rotation of the Shoulder joint (glenohumeral joint). The second which includes the muscles of the arms like bicep and tricep is also responsible for action in the Glenohumeral joint. The final group is perhaps the most important to us is the group that is responsible for stabilization and rotation of the Scapular, which includes the main muscles of the upper back like the Trapezius, Levator Scapulae and Rhomboids.

When we look at the connection through the back, it pretty much hinges on the location of the scapula. We deliberately train this area so that the most effective lines of force and groups of tissue can be developed or utilized.


If, for instance, the scapula ‘wings out’ away from the spine, the result can be that force entering the system gets ‘caught’ in the tissues that are stretched to wing the scapula out and through the back connection fails.


It is actually a trick I have seen internal adepts use to gain access to a partners frame, they will contact the arm, apply a force or direction, the shoulder will raise and scapula wing out and the partners entire structure crumbles as a result.


So, many practices have a focus on seating the scapular flat to the back and in towards the spine, stopping this winging action. One of these methods is body cross training, where the arms are held out to the sides of the body. In this method we pull the scapular in toward the spine as the hands rotate from facing down to facing forwards. Also traditional methods like Single whip can have this focus. A lot of work goes into this one process in order to create the right connections and allow through the back power to be utilized.


When next performing your method, if you don’t already, it may be worth looking into the position of the scapula when interacting with forces or expressing movements to see how this one area effects your overall connection.

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