The Internal Power Training Blog

Check out the latest info and research from Coach Chris' explorations in the Subject of Internal Power.

Legs - Open & Close Bookmark

In this article I am going to introduce one of the first ideas found in the internal arts relating to the use of the legs. The method we will discuss here has a number of unique advantages, from the co-ordination of multiple muscle groups to the use of the earth in relation to the center. However, more importantly, it means that we maintain legs that are active, rather than simply relegating them to posts that we balance our weight on! The methods in this article are the absolutely basic first step to present the ideas, we will cover more details in future articles.

Rounding the back Bookmark

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.

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.

opening the joints Bookmark

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.

Controlled by the waist Bookmark

"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.


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  • Addressing lower crossed Syndrome Articled 4 years ago
    The lower crossed syndrome is something that we see to a lesser or greater degree in new students. The lower cross is a term used to describe a specific pattern of muscular imbalance in the lower body which results in pelvic tilting and curvature of the lower back. If left unchecked, internal strength training where we are specifically working on the connective tissues and muscles in this area can actually compound postural problems, as well as increase the likelihood of injury under load. The lower Cross is characterized by a combination of both weakness and tightness in the lower torso. Specifically, tightness in the Thoraco lumbar extensors which is reflected in the hip flexors and weakness in the abdominals reflected in the Gluteals. This specific pattern of imbalance creates joint dysfunction at specific points along the lower spine and will cause the pelvis to tilt forward. Internal arts have specific training methodologies to address this issue. The corrections are achieved through 'releasing' the tightness in the thoracolumbar and hip flexors. We are aiming to bring the lower cross into a relaxed ...