Check out the latest info and research from Coach Chris' explorations in the Subject of Internal Power.
As we have discussed previously the body is a web of connective tissues. The symmetry and health of these tissues can dictate our postural balance, our skeletal alignment, our movement capacity and the health of our organs.
If we imagine a pristine spiders web, the structure is usually uniform, equal and perfectly balanced between its anchor points. This is how our fascia network should naturally be, in balance and without defect.
(El-Labban et al.,1993)
Winding is a method by which we put a pressure on the body tissues via specialised stretching and rotation that will result in quantifiable change. Placing the right demand on the tissue is extremely important as our body begins to adapt.
"Kangaroos can jump much farther than can be explained by the force of the contraction of their leg muscles. Under closer scrutiny, scientists discovered that a spring-like action is behind the unique ability: the so-called ‘catapult mechanism’ ( Kram and Dawson, 1998 ). Here, the tendons and the fascia of the legs are tensioned like elastic rubber bands. The release of this stored energy is what makes the amazing jumps possible.
Surprisingly, it has been found that the fasciae of humans have a similar kinetic storage capacity to that of kangaroos and gazelles ( Sawicki et al., 2009 ). This is not only made use of when we jump or run but also with simple walking, as a significant part of the energy of the movement comes from the same springiness described above. This new discovery has led to an active revision of long-accepted principles in the field of movement science.”
"rooted in the feet,
generated from the legs,
controlled by the waist, and
manifested through the fingers."
Tai Chi Classics.
This famous verse from the Tai Chi Classics identifies how the various parts of the body act in unison with each other to produce whole body connected power. One of the really interesting and often misinterpreted areas of the body for study is the waist. Some people consider this the pelvis, some the ‘hips’, some the area between the lower ribs and the iliac crests, but we can actually look at the muscle groups associated with ‘control’ to better understand why it is so important to the internal artists.
Methods which utilize extension permeate the internal arts. The idea of extension is different to idea of ‘stretching’ however the two are often confused. When extension is used we actually lead entire chains of tissue out from the body in order to create an elastic like tautness, in stretching we are more focused on elongating a specific muscle or limited muscle group.
Extension plays several roles in internal work. Firstly it is a great way to identify what are often called, blockages or bindings in the body. We may extend our arms out to the side and notice an ache in the elbow or the upper back and this is indicative of the tissue in these areas 'resisting' the extension.
The practice of eliminating the lumbar curve is a common requirement for practitioners of the internal arts. The reason it is of such interest to the internal artist is that it aids in the production of whole body power by De-segmenting the upper and lower halves of the body.
This straightening of the spine with the direction of force is something that we actually do naturally when the loads are heavy enough. To illustrate this point, think of when we push a car, we do not exaggerate the lumbar curve but flatten it out to drive power from the legs to the hands.
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.
An initial point of research for the Internal Arts coach is the relationship between the various muscles of the center and how they relate and influence structural alignment.
Before any of the strength development can occur (pulling silk - winding etc), we need to address these imbalances or misalignment. If they are are not addressed early then the body will build strength over misalignment and compound any per-existing issues.
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