Check out the latest info and research from Coach Chris' explorations in the Subject of Internal Power.
'Softening training' is something we encounter a lot in the internal arts, indeed these arts are sometimes called ‘soft arts’. But what is the practical utility of softening practices and why do we need to perform them?
Well there are 4 big reasons for using soft work for internal power development. These are related to the joints, the alignments, the fascia and the nervous system.
Lets Look at these primary problem areas that many softening exercises address.
When we practice the internal arts for some time, as evidenced by the recovery of my own knees after a long period of patella tendinitis, we begin to feel that the joints are able to articulate more smoothly. Sticking, stiff and sore joints will start to be released and generally we feel much more like a 'well oiled' machine.
The idea of raising the breath is one that we see in a number of internal arts. It can normally be observed in new students where they are puffing the chest up, breathing very shallow using the chest and pressurizing their upper body, especially during complex motion where they might need to think hard about what they are doing.
One of the biggest hurdles to overcome for the beginner of internal training is their ability to relax. Often they will be unable to even lift their arm without building isolation tension in the shoulder, and no matter how hard they ‘try’ they simply don’t have the control to relax specific muscles or areas of tension. In these cases a coach or teacher will often instruct the pupil to use their exhalation as a tool to guide the relaxation of the body.
All the Principles of Heaven and Earth are living inside you"
Ueshiba Morihei - Founder of Aikido.
‘Heaven, Earth, Man’ is a concept we find in many of the internal arts. Although the model can relate to many things, from Taoist mystical concepts to the nature of our place in reality.
I like to use the model to describe a practical part of internal power training and movement. The training of the balance of opposites within the body and how letting one win over the other can create movement or action.
So far we have talked about various parts of the body and the associated tissue chains in isolation. But it is important to remember that these lines, chains, alignments and tissues all constitute a single interconnected and inseparable unit.
The quote from the Tai chi classics i recently posted really speaks to the idea of integration.
“stand like a perfectly balanced scale” this is to say that you have equal and balanced body, front to back, left to right, up to down.
“move like a turning wheel” a wheel moves as one, there is no part left behind and no part disassociated from the rest.
'Winding' is an interesting subject. It may mean many things to many people, but I define it as a means to wrap the fascia, muscles and relevant tissues into tight spirals around the bones and body structures. If we imagine the construction of a rope, strands wrapping around each other, you will get the idea.
As we perform Winding the tissues actually 'squeeze' the bones and body alignments. With this in mind it is obvious why the very first phase of internal power training is often to correct alignment issues or postural problems. Pull or Wind on a misaligned frame and you will most definitely have problems!
Intent (as we mean it in this training) is the link between the minds thought to act and the bodies resulting action. Although ever present, there are several ways we can train this link to make it stronger, faster and more direct.
One way is the exercise of - ’move before you move’. When standing in a specific position we can REALLY try to reach into the distance with our posture. That is to say our mind is telling our body that we are really going to begin moving that direction at any second.
Click here for more info
This site is designed to be an online learning environment and community for people with an interest in the internal arts and internal power training. Our aim is to help people around the world optimize their training practices through the dissemination of previously hidden information.
Sign up for our mailing list to get latest updates and offers.