Internal Power 2

Xue Sheng

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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.

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.
 
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Dudi Nisan

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Dudi, I am still puzzled by the videos. I see solo exercises and theories aimed to achieve a "peak", as you say.

You are right. I was also puzzled. And I am still puzzled. But, first, Liu did crack the secret. And he did it because he was not satisfied with what gongfu masters told him. he was not satisfied with being taught how, as Kung Fu Wang says, "to throw a punch" etc. (As I "testified", I rejected all this "internal power" as nonsense. I was only interested in how to throw a punch. But I was wrong.). He believed that there is something more to martial arts. so he started analyzing the ancient manuals and interviewed dozens, if not hundreds, of teachers. As a result, his view of Chinese gongfu broadened and surpassed that of all the other masters. And many masters recognized his superiority, were impressed by him, and were willing to share all their secrets(or, put it differently, he knew exactly what to ask, and how to ask it, so they could not withhold information from him without looking stupid). As I said, and as soon would be apparent, Liu is the no.1 authority on Chinese gongfu today. Period.

Here we get to secret no.1: reaching high level of gongfu is not only about practice, but about learning the texts and then SEEING/experiencing a lot of masters/gongfu styles.

Secret no.2: the teachings are all there. If you are practicing Taichi, White Crane, Baguazhang, for example, you have already been building the internal power body. You have already been making your body a conduit for pressure. All the exercises are there, all the theory is there, we just did not know it. When you start studying with Liu you'll see what those exercises were meant to do. The thing is, most teachers don't have this power, and they focus on "throwing punches", or "health", and then things are not defined as they should be. Sometimes, since you are already doing everything, it is just a matter of definition, of someone help you put things in focus.

Secret no.3: very surprisingly, Liu views the use of a lot of shoufa as a sign that one does not have internal power. His purpose is to "win" with most minimal of movements. It's not even a movement, but contact:

It would be easier to figure out what you mean by "internal power" if he did an actual demonstration of it with a partner:

we are used to sophisticated techniques and people flying, but that is not what he does. I put videos
where he is with a partner, but you cannot really see anything. It looks like nothing happens.

QUOTE="O'Malley, post: 1816839, member: 29529"]What is this "peak" though? In other words, what concrete things can Master Liu do after practicing this way?[/QUOTE]

this is a very good question!
Because Liu's research was much more systematic he was more aware of the process which got him to that peak. but that was not enough. After reaching that peak he had to trace his steps all the way down, and then climb the mountain again. When he was sure of the factors that are needed for internal power to be generated he devised exercises and worked hard on formulating theory.

He teaches only three exercises (I am working on describing them, and post it in a week or two). Only three! besides that he his hands-on all the time, make you feel his power even while he corrects your mistakes. That is what he is doing for us. Of course, he is answering our questions all the time, and even though we continue to ask the same questions.

I say to all viewers again--Liu does explain things poetically, or using "qi". And as a scholar of Chinese history I'll tell you one more thing: qi is a dead-end. forget about it.
 

Herbie

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I keep coming back to these internal power threads, hoping for some clarification. And, ..., here we are. I guess I'm just a poor mortal, condemned to blindness because I can't go experience, first hand, whatever this wonderful teacher is doing.
 
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Dudi Nisan

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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, thats it.



Do you know the saying hanxiong babei qianjian duozhou怨豢瘝拙(contain the chest, pull up the back) ? Well, Ill tell you another secret: containing the chest etc. is not something that you do. Its 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.
 
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Dudi Nisan

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Once during class I told Liu, "look, internal power is really great but I want to continue practice traditional gongfu". You know what he told me? "This is traditional gongfu".

You see, according to his research the great martial founders, Fang Qininag and Dong Haiquan for example, did not teach any forms at all. They only taught principles. All these forms we have today are in a sense a mark of degeneration; once upon a time, and at best, those forms were means to an end--they were pointers to the peak of internal power--but today they are the end itself.

And so, you have to study huge systems and "train, train and not talk", with the promise that one day you'll get there. but we saw those teachers, they learned many forms, each movement is precise, each movement is beautiful, yet they are not even close to the peak.

With Liu, you are given the essence of gongfu. You don't have to spend years learning many forms. You are working for that power from the very first day, instead of working through huge amount of material and hoping that one day something will happen.

I guess that this is one of the main advantages of training with Liu.
 

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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, thats it.



Do you know the saying hanxiong babei qianjian duozhou怨豢瘝拙(contain the chest, pull up the back) ? Well, Ill tell you another secret: containing the chest etc. is not something that you do. Its 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.
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.
 

mograph

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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.
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.)

Five hundred years from now, how would another culture interpret that?
 
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Dudi Nisan

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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.

This is a very good point. I agree.

Five hundred years from now, how would another culture interpret that?

Yes, you are right.
 

greytowhite

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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.

Some people stop early, some people don blinders and don't know what they're looking at except the path. Others shut up and take in the scenery along the way. Those are the people that can teach you, to develop you into something amazing.

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.)

You misunderstand how internal power works, leverage is a more basic skill, muscle is only the second layer of the body. There is a lot of body control and coordination going on. There is a sort of fluid dynamic to the body. 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? It's serious business, hard work, and a long process to learn true "internal" power without getting a hernia and blowing your intestines out your perineum. The physical part is just the description, making it work requires a lot of partner work, sensitivity, and intent, eventually it becomes integrated into the spine. Meanwhile it's about the best thing you can do for rehab, spinal health, and arthritis.

It's physics all right but there is a very long process and it requires a very refined understanding of the anatomy as well as how to train it. The Chinese were talking about certain things that Western science is only now coming to understand in the last 15 years and will only shed more light on in the next five. I foresee a revolution in athletic training in about 10 years once people understand the consequences of studies being conducted now and a training protocol developed. 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. It's a long list of stuff and a deep biological rabbit hole though.
 

Tony Dismukes

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There is a lot of body control and coordination going on.
Yep. I believe that's what I said.

Are you familiar with tensegrity?

Yep. Tensigrity describes a form of structure, not a source of movement. I do suspect that a healthy, well-aligned human body does use a form of tensigrity as part of maintaining proper posture. I'm not aware of any scientific studies proving that theory, but I saw the idea proposed by a body work specialist of some sort (at this point I can't remember if it was Rolfing, Feldenkrais, or Alexander) about 30 years ago and personal experimentation on my own seems to support the notion.

A body that is aligned with good structure is better able to transmit power, but achieving that proper structure is one part of what I was talking about in my previous comment.

Are you familiar with the myofascial web that interconnects the whole body and sends mechanical signaling faster than the nervous system?

I'm familiar with the fascia. It doesn't have anything to do with "mechanical signaling." Neither does the nervous system for that matter. The nervous system uses electro-chemical signaling to activate the muscles (with said signals traveling around 100 m/s on average). Some parts of the fascia (as well as other related connective tissues) may store and release elastic energy, but that energy originates from the same two sources I described earlier - muscle contraction and/or gravity.

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?

I do train those sorts of coordinations, but actually the primary training effect happens in the brain rather than in the peripheral nerve fibers. The peripheral nerve fibers carry the signals to the muscles, but the brain is where the complex work of timing and coordinating those signals takes place.

Have you ever felt what a good myofascial release therapist can do to you?

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.

How about a teacher who can do the same thing but for destructive purposes?

Haven't experienced that. I'd be curious to see and feel how those principles could be applied in a martial context.

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?

Not sure of what you're referring to as a reverse breath, but yes to the rest.

How about with a different pattern of breath that creates a more vibrational strike?

Don't know what you mean by "vibrational strike." I'd need a clearer explanation to be convinced that sentence isn't a bunch of hooey.

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?

Here you are describing a subjective internal sensation that corresponds to certain patterns of skillful muscle activation. If perceiving the patterns that way works for you, then I'm all for it. I'd have to see and feel what you're doing in order to know whether it corresponds closely to anything I'm working on. (Taken literally, those statements are anatomical nonsense. The adductor longus, for example, can not travel down to the soles of your feet unless someone cuts it out with a knife.)

Of course, all the questions about what I can do are somewhat beside the point. There are lots of people out there who can do all kinds of skillful things I can't. Dancers, acrobats, jugglers, athletes, martial artists practicing "internal" arts, martial artists practicing "external" arts, the list goes on and on. It's really amazing what some of them can do and I don't have enough years left in my life to catch up to many of them. It doesn't mean any of them are doing anything other than activating their muscles in a highly skilled (and often very subtle) way via signals from highly trained pathways in the brain.

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'd appreciate it. I would like it if those synopses included detailed references to the journal articles in question. I've noticed that studies in a specialized field are often misinterpreted by people outside of that field, so I'd like to be able to check original sources.
 

greytowhite

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I'll admit Tony I'm not a trained expert in the anatomy but I can read resources, talk with people that are and put two and two together. I don't have all of the anatomy stuff as sharp as I did five years ago so bear with me, it's largely beyond my interest any longer but I try to keep up. There have been worldwide myofascial conferences starting only in the past 10 years that have led to really interesting information presented.

Fourth International Fascia Research Congress, Washington, D.C., September 18-20, 2015

I think the person you're referring to is Tom Myers who was a Rolfer before starting his own system of myofascial therapy. 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. The greater the concentric tension in large chain muscle groups the easier it is to effect their structure because they've locked not only muscles but whole portions of kinetic force transmission chains as well as contracted the structural members like bones and the spaces between the joints. Training oneself to relax large muscle chains and allow gravity to simply effect one's alignment is the whole point of exercises like Chen taiji's fang song gong (relaxation exercises) and Huang Xingxian's Song Gong Wu Fa (five relaxing methods). These exercises are also a good time to quiet the mind and emotions.



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. Also because the pairing and elongating is happening along multiple vectors the muscles and connective tissues do elongate and wind and unwind along the bones. This is what long form training is for, as one becomes more and more able to relax and sink into posture then the coordinations of the limbs and torso come into play.

Muscle Physiology - Types of Contractions

It's an odd feeling when someone who has the same sensitivity as a myofascial therapist and the familiarity with the body but the intent to hurt. I've felt my teacher slide his fingers between layers of muscle and then twist his finger tip, shutting down whole muscle chains and dropping me because he got to some kind of fascial plane intersection or something. It's really intense and afterward he gave me a super painful massage that felt like he was crushing a ball of muscle.

Here is a really base level explanation of reverse breathing:


We also focus on opening the back side of the rib cage on the in breath to open the rest, then drop the kinetic energy along the front of the ribcage down to the lower abdomen as it expands. More advanced breathing forms focus more on the solar plexus and oscillation between the top and bottom of the torso as well as left and right rotation, opening and closing of the legs like scissors creating a more vibrational quality to multiples waves of force coming from multiple parts of the body through a connected structure but with slightly staggered timing.

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
 

Gerry Seymour

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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.
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.
 

Tony Dismukes

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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.
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-1.jpeg


In contrast, in a normal structure the resistance to gravity is ultimately provided by rigid components which are stacked, like blocks one on top of another. Each block supports the collective weight of the blocks above it. A radio tower falls into this category. It's held upright against gravity by stacked rigid components. The guy wires and the triangles are to add lateral stability.
53_big.jpg


A conventional structure can, of course, have components which are not supported from underneath and are held up by other components under tension. A suspension bridge would be an obvious example. However this is still not a tensegrity structure because the ultimate support for the cables under tension comes from the rigid components which are stacked against gravity.
13.jpg


The human body is, at least to a first approximation, a conventional structure. Support against gravity is provided by rigid components which are stacked one on top of another. The bones of the skeleton aren't shaped to enable the perfect alignment which would allow them to stay balanced upright by themselves, so the muscles have to provide a degree of tension which keeps them in that upright alignment. The more centered and upright the posture is, the less the muscles have to work to do that job.

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.

Basically the idea is that without some kind of tension the body isn't able to move.

Absolutely correct.

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.

I think there might be some confusion about the terms here.

From the viewpoint of an individual muscle fiber, it know how to do only two things. It can contract (i.e. shorten or attempt to) or it can stop contracting. There is no signal a nerve can send to a muscle fiber which will tell it to expand and grow longer.

That's an individual muscle fiber. A muscle group (such as the bicep or the quadriceps) is made up of many individual muscle fibers, so it can contract with greater or lesser force depending on how many of its component fibers get the signal to fire.

Concentric contraction occurs when the force exerted by the muscle trying to shorten is sufficient to overcome any opposing forces.

Isometric contraction occurs when the force exerted by the muscle trying to shorten is exactly balanced out by opposing forces (such as gravity or other muscles) so that the muscle is not able to change length.

Eccentric contraction occurs when the muscle is attempting to shorten, but the opposing forces are greater than the force applied by the muscle, so that the muscle is stretched out despite its efforts to resist.

When you perform an "isometric contraction" (holding a dumbbell out in your example), your motor cortex isn't sending a message to your muscles saying "keep still". Rather it's sending messages telling certain fibers to pull and shorten - but calibrating those messages so that the net force created by the muscles trying to shorten exactly balances out the force of gravity trying to pull the dumbbell down.

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.

It's really an amazingly complex process and most of it is beyond the capacity of the conscious mind to directly perceive. Our conscious mind is like an chief executive in his office giving strategic directions (stand on one leg!, grab that box off the shelf!) while sub-processes in the sensory and motor centers of the brain take care of the details of implementation. 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.

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

Cool. I was under the impression that any processing going on in the spinal cord was limited to a small subset of mostly hardwired reflexes, i.e. jerking your hand back from a hot stove or certain sub-processes related to gait or posture. It would be interesting to discover if there are more trainable patterns and circuits which can be developed. The linked articles don't have much to say on the topic, but I'll keep my eyes open for new information.
 

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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.
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.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Here is a really base level explanation of reverse breathing:
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?
 

greytowhite

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Tony, thanks for taking the time to respond in a courteous manner and provide some background. I was definitely not expressing this as well as I could and you provided some things from which I can expound.

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.

Indeed, knowing how the individual pieces of the Lego set are made is not particularly helpful in getting it built, rather the instruction set is critical but then one has to try figure out how one got there to explain it a little better to the next generation. Still, the thing we always have to remember is that science doesn't know everything until proven not. It's not a replacement for the supernatural omniscience often assigned to God. If people aren't looking in the right places, asking the right questions, and then bearing out the experiment repeatedly then science doesn't know it. That doesn't mean it's false, it just mean the light hasn't been shone there yet and we're at a Schrodinger's box point of knowledge, we just don't know a lot of it yet.

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.

How would the body stand on its own without some tension in the elastic, non-structural force transference portions? Humanity does not exist in a vacuum, we are on the surface of a moving ball of rock spinning at incredible speed here - we are only in an illusion of stillness because most are used to it and not sensitive enough to feel the earth's spin. How would you stack a skeleton so it could stand without muscles, the pressure chamber in the middle of the torso and some tension holding it all together by sheer gravitic compression? I don't know of any way to do it, the bones are always hung from a hook or were separate when we played with them in class. How would changing from quadrupedal to bipedal locomotion change the way force travels through the body? Look at a hamster thought to be one of the closest things in appearance to our long lost rodent-like ancestor that were our common relatives with the lower primates. How would you stack a hamster skeleton to be aligned under gravity by itself? Its spine and ribs even are almost perpendicular to our own orientation and in largely Y axis vertical alignment for force flow. So why are we that much different just because we're upright? We're not, the ribs are only horizontal because we evolved into something very different from where we started. Even our own rib cage is largely a Y axis force flow if we are on all fours.

Why not just take what the classics are telling you at face value sometimes? Humans aren't dumb and just because something is couched in a different cultural context why must it be dismissed? Practice of these arts, particularly the breathing exercises has decompressed my lower spine to the point where I can walk without a cane. When I started I couldn't feel much below my belly button thanks to the stroke and resulting muscular compensation, then after two years I had a ridiculous S curve scoliosis and nearly fused vertebrae causing sciatica. My Western doctors were always amazed at my progress and awareness of my own body after I stared training. Even those New Age types (chriopractors and massage therapists) were often dumbfounded.

It only took approximately six weeks of seated taijiquan practice before my lumbar spine popped so dramatically in bed one night that I thought my box spring had collapsed underneath me. The resulting seizure like event, the ripping of my abdominal muscles off of my xyphoid process (you could see the xyphoid process' outline under my skin for about three months where muscle would normally be for the solar plexus, woof that was painful to click back in), and subsequent 2.5" of height regained were quite amazing. Now I have a small little 10 degree C curve in my thoracic behind the heart. My spine has decompressed significantly according to my doctors and X-rays and they're often incredulous.

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.

Are you familiar with slip planes? I know the feeling intimately. Basically starting from that description of carefully putting the dumb bell back in the rack one keeps the intention of extending past the actual physical body. There is a very distinct feeling, almost of pulling cotton apart, of the fascial tissue sliding inside the body as the muscle lengthens, opening the joints. A lot of my training is trying to get that tearing cotton feeling, creating space inside the body, and allowing things to move in opposite force vectors across my bones. This is the whole point of "pairing" and rotating, sinking etc. certain parts of the body in slow, aligned coordination - to trigger the eccentric contraction, allow the fascia to slip inside the body and give the muscle space to extend in length but become smaller in girth because it is twisting like a rag as opposed to bunching together.

Muscle fascia and force transmission. - PubMed - NCBI
 

greytowhite

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Also, I should have mentioned something about the radio tower, I was specifically referring to radio masts, not the one you showed.

Guy-wire - Wikipedia

Something a bit more upright and uniform in its base. It is entirely dependent on the wires to stay upright should it be affected by outside forces. Have you heard the nautical saying, "Off by an inch, off by a mile?" It's referring to plotting course - if the angle or where you begin charting your map is slightly off when you're drawing it out then your end may well be very far from where you intended your journey to go. So it is with the top of the radio mast when it is blown by the wind, or if there is a small earthquake, the top of that mast if it is only sunk into the ground on a concrete slab into some regular ol' dirt will most likely tip away from center line to a point that it may fall over or become otherwise damaged. Why?

The earth itself is not exactly stable considering that if you were to strip away the water and atmosphere it looks like a bullet that's already torn through someone. A good chunk got taken out when the outside planetoid struck it and the moon was formed from the subsequent debris that cooled and condensed. The earth's mass distribution is not as uniform as many assume. No wonder the electromagnetic field is shaped so weird. The earth is spinning super fast, it's wobbling because it's got a weird shape and mass distribution, and it is not only effected by its weird shape but also this odd companion that is about 30% of its size orbiting nearby and the other celestial bodies. OK, so we got all this movement, centripedal and resulting centrifugal force everywhere on this planet, and outside forces. WTF? How do you calculate all that in your head? Who knows, the brain does it, somehow we keep equilibrium. We can't quite keep from walking in circles though.

Now, what advantages do the triangular structure and guy wire combination have that a tower with a stacked triangular structure alone stuck into the ground on a slab doesn't? One, it is secured to multiple places on the ground making an effectively have a wider base. Two, the tension of these elastic portions of the structure provides greater downward securement along the central Y axis. Why does this handle outside stress better than just sticking a tall tower in the ground?

Look at the center of a mitsudomoe, not the commas but the space in between. There is a twisting going on because almost any outside force moving at an X axis will cause some kind of rotation in reference to the base of the mast. So the triangles help "ground" the Y axis gravitic force load along angles to a point where the cables can help offload the X axis force along a hypotenuse using tension along spiral vectors to "ground" out the energy. This structure could not stay stable for long without the triangles or the guy wires but the triangles stacked without the wires might stay up for a little while. However, how did all that metal get stuck together in the first place? A kind of connective tissues that holds the joints and bones together, still without tension, I don't see how a human body can move or stay upright.
 
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