Check out the latest info and research from Coach Chris' explorations in the Subject of Internal Power.
Some systems look to tap into this potential for motion from stillness in their utilization of ‘gravity’ power, with falling steps or postural releases creating high volumes of force for throwing or striking. However gravity can also be utilized in a different way. It can be used to ‘tension’ some of the specialized tissue of the body in order to create potential in their release.
If we consider, for example the many tissue lines running throughout the body, the axis, cross body lines, the side lines, the crotch arch etc and how the pulling or winding solo work conditions and develops them. The adept would have trained their intersection at the lower Dantien or center and the entire body will have an elastic and strong quality. The body, due to its entrained qualities, holds high volumes of potential energy.
The training of this web, full of potential to create motion, is one of the first steps of the internal arts practitioner, simply because it allows for the creation of a higher and higher volume of potential power from the apparently static body.
Think of the tissues, all slightly stretched, in a standing post position. The adept is like a web of elastic bands and sheets ready leading to and from the junction box that is the lower dan tien. This idea of all lines leading back to the center can be very useful for creating motion. For instance, we can use ‘gravity’ to act on the center making it sink or rotate. As this occurs and the body is held static, what do you think the results will be in those stretched tissues? The potential will increase and motion can be created in accordance with those tensions when the adept chooses to release.
We can take this even further and move to the level of the mind. Stillness of mind can form movement in thought, which applies intent to the still body, which then creates motion. But that is for a future post ...
Try to find the potential for motion to appear from stillness in your own training. There is another potential, outside of the musculature action.
Image Master Cui Ru Bing - Yi Chuan
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.
We can’t really look at movement skills without talking about how movement complexity and capacity is handled by the brain and nervous system. It is our brains that give rise to our ability to move in complex ways and also our brains that allow us to retain good movement habits once they are learned.
Indeed, some people theorize that movement diversity is the reason for humans developing such large and complex brains.
In the upcoming series of articles, we are going to look at the unique movement methods and techniques found in the internal arts and their impact on our mental and physical health and our ability in the Martial Arts. We will be looking at some of the components of Internal arts methods like spiraling and the interplay of opposites as well as more detail on how these movements deal with force.
Movement is a fundamental ‘must have’ for the human organism. Our bodies are built such that much of our health and happiness is directly related to the volume, composition and more importantly quality of our movement. As soon as someone stops moving regularly they start to develop a host of problems that can cascade into serious health issues.
Following on from the previous article, today we will talk about one of the most fundamental aspects of internal power training, utilizing our intent to enhance and fuel our movement. Some systems of internal art place this concept at the very forefront of the system, Xing Yi Quan being a prominent example. The important of ‘intent’ should not be overlooked by the practitioner as it is both a useful training tool and a fundamental movement enhancer.
Intent can have many different interpretations in the various internal arts, there are some who say it means mind, some who say it means visualization, still others who say it is the direct use of our nervous systems, or others who identify it as the will to move energy around the body. For the purpose of clarity in this article I will use my own definition of Intent as it relates to the Internal practices I teach, but understand and accept that others may well define this idea differently for instance some would define my ideas on Intent as 'will power' (zhi rather than Yi).
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.
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