Master Black Belt
- Apr 10, 2008
- Reaction score
Yeah, sometimes the poetic metaphor works better practically for conveying the necessary feeling than the scientifically accurate analytic explanation. I have no problem with that as long as people don't start taking the metaphor literally or using the poetry to obscure rather than communicate.
Dudi, I am still puzzled by the videos. I see solo exercises and theories aimed to achieve a "peak", as you say.
It would be easier to figure out what you mean by "internal power" if he did an actual demonstration of it with a partner:
I stopped reading after the first paragraph, because you're specifying the forces backwards. Bodyweight doesn't push against the Earth - it is a result of the Earth pulling on you: gravity. And your body pulls back.Hi Herbie
Thanks for following.
Think of your body weight as a force. When you are standing up this force (=body weight) goes straight down, “pushing” the earth. The earth then pushes back. When you allow this force to manifest in your body you have internal power.
We block this force out both physically and mentally. Physically, our erect posture (especially our S-shaped spine) prevent that force form manifesting. Mentally, we trained ourselves to fear imbalance/falling and to balance ourselves with the brain-musculoskeletal system etc.
These two problems have to be “corrected”; the spine must assume a bow-shape again, and you must mentally allow yourself to fall while standing up. When you can make that mental switch you have internal power. This is how Liu explains it(and if you want all his research into physics and bio-mechanics you can read his books. Quite complex, I only read a little).
Remember what Liu said in the video? (“I used to think that martial arts were physical kind of art, now I understand that martial arts are more about the transformation of the mind. What we emphasize is using cognition to transform our inertia, using inertia to transform our power, and using our power to transform our bodies.”). Well, that’s it.
Do you know the saying hanxiong babei qianjian duozhou含胸拔背沉肩墜肘(“contain the chest, pull up the back…)” ? Well, I’ll tell you another secret: containing the chest etc. is not something that you do. It’s not a process but the result of it. When internal power manifests this naturally happens. Internal power literally moves you. That is why “power transforms the body”.
P.S. Liu is truly wonderful. Not because of his power, but because of his honesty and integrity. And Taipei is not that far.
To use a simplistic analogy, it's as if a contemporary teacher told a student to twerk in order to stretch the tailbone. (Assuming that twerking would have such an effect.)Some of the poetic metaphors are translated from the Chinese language. And some of those metaphors speak volumes to native Chinese because they come from their cultural knowledge.
Some of the poetic metaphors are translated from the Chinese language. And some of those metaphors speak volumes to native Chinese because they come from their cultural knowledge. It is when you get to western translations that some westerners interpret them as magical.
Five hundred years from now, how would another culture interpret that?
Is it possible to traverse the same path but reach a different (but not the desirable) destination?
When it comes to power (including internal power) this is possible. Some teachers have cultivated the ability to generate great power, and others (fewer in number) have managed to generate internal power. Yet, according to our experience, none of them actually knew how they came to possess such a power. They were not secretive. They were willing to tell their students exactly what they did; they were willing to describe all their training methods. That is, they were willing to draw a map of the road they have (figuratively) traversed.
I think the discussion of internal power always gets muddied with poetic and imprecise language. You see people talk about "relaxed" energy as opposed to "muscular tension."
Here's the scoop, though. Telekinesis does not exist. Human movement and power only comes from two sources. The primary source is muscles contracting (with other muscles relaxing so as not to impede the resulting movement). The secondary source is gravity. Gravity can produce downwards movement and can also produce a lateral vector of force if a body is braced in an unbalanced fashion.
That's it. There is no more. A body with all its muscles fully contracted under tension will be locked in place. A body with all its muscles fully relaxed will fall to the floor and not move. (Both bodies will quickly die of heart failure. If we exclude cardiac muscle, then both bodies will shortly suffocate due to an inability to breathe.)
When we see a highly skilled martial artist* generate a lot of power with seemingly little effort there is no magic involved. It means the practitioner has trained their nervous system to fire off the signals for contracting and relaxing specific muscles in such a precise sequence as to produce the maximum result with the least effort. Leverage, alignment, activating only the muscles groups which assist the movement at the correct instant, inhibiting muscle groups which would impede the movement, using gravity advantageously - all these are produced by this precise sequencing.
When you add another person into the mix, you can produce even more impressive effects by applying this force at just the right place and time and angle relative to the other persons position, movement, and readiness. Once again, this is just physics applied with precision and skill, not any mysterious force unique to a certain system or culture.
If you want to call this high level of skill in applied body mechanics "internal power", that's fine with me. Alternately, maybe you want to use "internal arts" as a label for styles which approach developing this skill through a certain type of pedagogy. That's cool too. Just don't try to convince me that "internal power" is something mysterious which can only be learned from a obscure master on another continent. Muscles contract, gravity pulls downwards. That's how we move.
*(It's not limited to martial artists either - highly skilled athletes, dancers, etc can develop this same skill.)
Tension and Integrity - Tensegrity a Balance of Tension MembersAre you familiar with tensegrity? Are you familiar with the myofascial web that interconnects the whole body and sends mechanical signaling faster than the nervous system?
Yep. I believe that's what I said.There is a lot of body control and coordination going on.
Are you familiar with tensegrity?
Are you familiar with the myofascial web that interconnects the whole body and sends mechanical signaling faster than the nervous system?
Do you consciously train long branch nerve fibers by coordinating not only upper and lower body movement but across the body as well, left hand to right foot, tailbone to crown, lower belly to lower back, solar plexus to behind the heart, explore opposite polarities?
Have you ever felt what a good myofascial release therapist can do to you?
How about a teacher who can do the same thing but for destructive purposes?
Have you ever consciously opened and closed your rib cage not only vertically but expanded it then contracted it, simultaneously coordinated that with your pelvic diaphragm's sinking reflection to the back and the psoas muscles all the way down to the feet as well as a reverse breath?
How about with a different pattern of breath that creates a more vibrational strike?
Do you know how to draw the inner muscles and connective tissues of the inner parts of your legs all he way down to the soles of your feet and then "fire" that rebound force up your spine and then spin and drop it along different vectors? Can you do a similar process but from your lats and rib cage down to the feet? Can you induce subtle rotation along your joints and limbs so that you can feel the connective tissues and muscles incrementally "wind" around the bones only to release it all at once?
If you'd like I can provide you with a number of resources as well as synopses of scientific studies that support the model of the body I am laying out.
I read an article recently by someone from the Rolfing side of bodywork, and his view was similar to yours. He didn't think the original theory was accurate, and has been working to better understand what Rolfing actually does. He recognizes the benifits - the results - and thinks they can be improved by understanding what's actually producing them.Yep. Went through Rolfing in my twenties. Got some good results, although I'm not convinced the theory behind the practice is scientifically accurate. Also tried out several other schools of bodywork (Feldenkrais, Alexander technique, and some others) during the time period when I was working as a massage therapist.
Not quite. The distinguishing factor of a tensigrity structure is that it's composed of rigid components under compression and flexible components under tension which is able to stand against gravity even though the rigid components are not stacked or even in contact with each other.Tensegrity describes a type of architectural structure developed by Buckminster Fuller. He also designed the geodesic dome. A radio tower with guy wires and all the triangles is a good every day example of a tensegrity structure - the tension of the cables holds it together. The body conforms to such a description with the muscles, tendons, and fascia keeping tension between the bones and allowing the body to move.
Basically the idea is that without some kind of tension the body isn't able to move.
There are multiple types of muscle contraction - concentric the kind you describe that will lock the whole body down requires a lot of conditioning to use repeatedly. The next most are familiar with is isometric - that asshat in high school who could hold a dumb bell out forever. In Chinese systems the idea is that once you can relax the large muscle chains as much as possible you keep muscles responsible for keeping posture erect like the erector spinae in isometric contraction to remove slack from the torso and create a verticality in the body. Zhan zhuang or standing still is often the training method used for this. The art of Yiquan is based on this method.
Then one trains eccentric contraction in the body through pairing, the three exteranal alignments (hip and shoulder first one above the other and then opposite sides, the elbows and knee, same progression, hands and feet, same progression), slow movement, and intent. The feeling is more akin to wringing out a rag and will actually elongate the muscle. This also creates a feeling of effortless "no muscle" strength that is greater in effect than normal concentric contraction.
Movement is processed in the spine and while the spine is a signaling pathway to lower parts of the brain it is also responsible for localized processing. A recent study also shows long branch neurons help coordinate and handle localized and networked processing for cross body and limb movement.
Spinal cord processes information just like areas of the brain
Walking is bound hand and foot: How long projecting neurons couple the movement of our limbs | University of Basel
My theory is that when it works it does so by training the nervous system to stop habitually tightening certain muscle groups in an unbalanced way which produces poor posture. I think I got good results from it because I had already learned from my martial arts training how to relax into the pain and because I made an effort to recognize and retain the new postural patterns I got out of the Rolfing process. I think without those two elements it might have been just a really hard, painful massage.I read an article recently by someone from the Rolfing side of bodywork, and his view was similar to yours. He didn't think the original theory was accurate, and has been working to better understand what Rolfing actually does. He recognizes the benifits - the results - and thinks they can be improved by understanding what's actually producing them.
Cool, thanks. I don't think I had done that one before, but I've done enough other kinds of breathing techniques that I was able to follow along from the video and pick it up pretty easily. What kinds of benefits do you find you get from that exercise?Here is a really base level explanation of reverse breathing:
It's really an amazingly complex process and most of it is beyond the capacity of the conscious mind to directly perceive. ... It's no wonder that practitioners of different body movement systems (including martial arts) have developed a vocabulary for describing their process based on what it feels like rather than what is actually happening from a scientific perspective. Knowing what the movement should feel like is generally more useful for the practitioner than knowing the analytic details of what is happening at a biochemical level.
The body is clearly not a pure tensegrity structure, however a theory is that the complex of muscles, bones, and connective tissues in the body's core (hips, spine, ribs, shoulders) may, if engaged and aligned properly, provide some degree of tensegrity support so that not as much weight is directly loaded through compression down from each vertebra into the disk and the vertebra directly beneath it. I'm not aware of any scientific studies to back up this idea. I do know that by being aware of properly engaging the deep muscles of my core I can produce the feeling that my spine is decompressing and the vertebrae are almost floating. However this sensation is not necessarily an accurate depiction of what is going on anatomically.
When you perform an "eccentric contraction" (let's say lowering that dumbbell carefully back in the rack), your motor cortex isn't telling your muscles "lengthen". It's still sending messages to fibers in your bicep saying "shorten, contract", but it's sending just enough of those messages carefully timed so that the net force generated is enough to slow the dumbbell down as its weight stretches out your arm.