View Full Version : Thoughts On Visualization and Power Generation
01-13-2011, 01:03 AM
This is part of my most recently blog entry. My blog is in my signature and the rest of this post on the blog is mainly personal history.
During zhan zhuang and other jibengong as well as during every day life I try to breathe via the following focus. Firstly, Natural breathing but to a point where the movement of my Superficial Front Line and Deep Front line are somewhat separate and the interaction across myofascial planes feels somewhat like wearing a wet shirt. Equalization of pressure in the lower abdomen and chest is easiest achieved through repeated practice of the below visualization with the following logic.
Focusing on the fascial densities of the torso I chose to concentrate on the Ming Men, the area around lumbar vertebrae, because it is the densest location for fascia in the body and it corresponds almost directly with the lower dantian. I can't think of the trigram correspondence but in Yin-Yang theory it is the Yin within the Yang. The Yang within the Yin is the "front cross" of the fascia going across one's chest. If I can keep the two points well harmonized I can move with more power and maintaining correct posture seems to be easier. I've been practicing my chansigong as two spheres rotating on top of one another both separately and in a coordinated manner within my torso but I've lately tried to turn those two spheres into one by focusing in this manner. One thing I have found particularly difficult when moving in this manner is how to generate power.
Generating power is completely different with this focus and involves more of the front. A note: the front/back position of my occiput and whether I have the "up" feeling at the crown of my head seems to play a critical role in successful power generation. I think that much of that is due to the sternocleidomastoid muscles and the Superficial Front Line keeping the head up allowing one to fully discharge down to the heels on exhale. The next thing I plan to experiment with is the relationship of the occiput and the sacrum.
Whilst practicing Aunkai tenchijin two nights back I was able to "internally" discharge down to my heels and "jumped" a good 2.5" from the ground. My poor younger sister was taken unaware and her exclamation of "How do you do that?" was entertaining. I was visualizing power threading around the Spiral Lines up my front, and then DOWN my back to my heels. I think if I can learn to harness this by taking it up my front again or rerouting it around back instead of pouring it out my heels I would be able to strike or kick very powerfully.
I would appreciate input on visualizations with the front side as it seems that certain styles seem to develop various things intuitively or tend to focus on certain aspects. I know the Chen taiji principles I was taught and have read mention very little about using the front for vertical force and many people seemed to be amazed by Dr. Michael Guen's demonstration on Empty Flower.
Another thing I am curious about is kinda like, What if Wolverine fought Clayface? or something of that nature. Basically I would like to get Dan Harden together with someone who seems to know a bit about Huayue Xinyi Men like the user drifting on Rum Soaked Fist and have them compare body methods. The LHBF guys always claim how different they are and their focus does seem quite interesting. Their Five Hearts and Six Harmonies concept is very interesting to me.
Sorry for the rambling on but I wanted to show the path of my thoughts lately.
01-13-2011, 08:08 AM
Cool beginning posts. Just a word. A lot of us are not familiar with CMA terms so using terms like 'superficial front line' or 'deep front line' makes it hard to follow your reflections and difficult for us to give you any input. Chansigong?
01-13-2011, 01:56 PM
Very sorry for the jargon issue. I forget that not everyone is interested in much the same things as I am. This blog's main audience is aimed at my chriopractor/physical therapist so he has an idea of how my practice effects my daily movement patterns. I'm using nomenclature from Tom Myers' Anatomy Trains (http://www.anatomytrains.com/) which corresponds well with Chinese medicine. If you look on my blog I have embedded links for many of the terms so you can gain background information with the terms. I also provide links to what I am trying to refer to and some of the discussions and other resources of which I take advantage. Again, mainly meant for my chiropractor so I'm trying to provide resources for those not familiar.
01-13-2011, 01:58 PM
Oh and please don't take it to mean as if this visualization is the end all and be all for anyone's practice I'm just saying this is what I've been trying and what has been effective for me so far.
01-14-2011, 02:30 AM
Hmmm..I didn't see you suggesting your 'visualization' as the end-all-be-all. You are asking us for input, but it is difficult for us to give you any input if bring up mysterious terms like 'superficial front line' or 'deep front line' and don't define them.
01-14-2011, 11:28 AM
Oh sorry, I forgot to mention that I link to a lot of these terms in the blog itself. I'll have to see if I can do HTML editing for the original post. Just a moment please.
01-14-2011, 12:12 PM
It seems I'm not able to edit the original post at all and I took so long editing the other trying not to post pad my cookie expired.
I'll try to list some links here. I realize it may be a lot to read but it may also provide some more background for when Mike Sigman posts about Chen Xiaowang or when the Aunkai guys talk about leg spiraling this is some of the information I've found useful and it jives with what my former instructor spoke of almost constantly.
Tom Myers' Anatomy Trains and a good explanation of the "Lines" of which I speak. (http://www.anatomytrains.com/explore/dissection)
A good historical explanation of coiling or chansi within the body. The idea of silk reeling is illustrated as well. (http://www.chinafrominside.com/ma/taiji/chenxin.html)
Yang Jwing-Ming's thoughts on Natural Breathing. (http://www.fightingarts.com/reading/article.php?id=571)
A great Yiquan eBook about zhan zhuang solo practice training. (http://www.scribd.com/doc/44686995/Zhan-Zhuang-Qigong-You-can-feel-it)
Some thoughts on jibengong that I liked. (http://wujimon.com/2010/02/21/early-foundations-of-jibengong-mike-martello/)
In case you're wondering about LiuHeBaFa or Hua Yue Xi Yi Men I think this site has the most legitimate and thorough information you'll find. (http://www.liuhebafachuan.com/home.html)
If there is anything else you have trouble with just holler and I'll try to be as accomodating as possible.
01-14-2011, 03:07 PM
I apologize if this seems a little off to some as this is mainly and Aikido forum but I think this may be enlightening to some particularly when Ashe Higgs speaks of I Liq Chuan or Mike Sigman talks about Chinese esoterica this is one of those really deep but sometimes obscured things that understanding it hits people differently.
I'm not saynig I understand it completely by any means but I am trying to treat it like the multifaceted thing it can be. The mulitplicity of meanings in a poetic and Zen koan-like manner within Chinese concepts sometimes makes me want to pull my hair out. It does give me lots to ponder during my long commutes via public transportation.
A nice example of some CIMA discusison here on AikiWeb that I found interesting. (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=17768)
A chapter about Macrocosmic Orbit. I recommend the entire book if you want a better understanding of some Chinese meditative practices. (http://globalqiproject.com/media/8ExMs/09.TheMacrocosmicOrbit.pdf)
Some more thoughts on visualization, breath, and whole body movement if you don't mind entertaining me. I mentioned previously about the visualizations I had been working with. The spheres described are what I practiced from reading many taiji texts, talking to instructors, and I would mainly try visualizing as described classically in my seated and sometimes in my standing meditation.
The upper sphere's movement was for my upper body pretty much my ribs and up. The lower sphere was for my abdomen/hips/buttocks and it was my take on aligning the the three dantians with my "head up" intent along with it. Chen taiji doesn't really say much about the movement of the head except to keep it still and watch that hands with the eyes whilst performing silk reeling exercises.
This led to some progress for me but I felt it was limited and so I started looking for more information. When I read the article below about Aunkai, watched some of their videos and started experimenting with their basic exercises I thought some and tried some more things.
The Aunkai of Minoru Akuzawa (http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=699)
The next thing I tried was visualizing two lines on the sides of those spheres to try moving my arms and legs. I quickly developed a "single side" power that I have read Dan Harden talking about here. Looking back I was using this same side power in bowling by trying to emulate Jason Belmonte's two-handed throw with no idea of what I was doing. I was very unpolished and I think that contributed to the scoliosis I am now addressing as I almost always lobbed my 14 lb bowling ball right handed.
Here is a good example of two very talented bowlers and a good contrast of some of the body mechanics can be seen if you look closely. Jason Belmonte's style is very natural as he started bowling two handed at 18 months. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T--AMh2NZM)
Some of you may not be familiar with the traditional Chinese idea of Hunyuan. My understanding of it is that it describes the intersecting circles of interaction between Heaven and Earth with man in between. Sound familiar to you? I see it all the time.
I mentioned Chen taiji earlier and that is the art which opened the door to my thoughts about martial arts, visualization, and qigong. For a long time I thought of Microcosmic Orbit as only up the spine and down the back.
While mainly a Chinese practice Microcosmic Orbit was also influenced by Indian yogic meditative practices with the arrival of Buddhism. (http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/meditation/micro.asp)
Now recently a few things have really been fueling my thoughts. Like putting octane booster in a car these things have been very interesting to me. Firstly the true essence of taiji. The yin and the yang, the yin within the yang and the yang within the yin. Looking at things in context and trying to figure out the two polarities.
Secondly the theory and body usage of the Gong Baozai lineage of Yin Fu Bagua as discussed over at EmptyFlower and how it relates to physiology. This has led me to watching Parkour videos, qinggong videos, and reading about Jean-Pierre Barral's Visceral Manipulation therapy.
Discussion with Michael Guen on Empty Flower. (http://www.emptyflower.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=8282&st=0)
Parkour, Urban Running or Free Running is pretty cool to watch. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEeqHj3Nj2c)
This qinggong video is from He Jinghan a lineage brother of Michael Guen. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pkpde4vSuwc)
Visceral Manipulation (http://www.barralinstitute.com/about/vm.php)
Thirdly is animal intent. It's found throughout Chinese martial arts and many of the Japanese arts are related to animal arts like White Crane. National Geographic did an interesting Fight Science episode about it.
This is the Fight Science episode. (http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/series/fight-science/4323/Overview)
Fourthly, the discussions of LiuHeBaFa over on Rum Soaked Fist have been particularly thought inspiring and it wasn't until I started reading more about fascia, Tom Myers' Anatomy Trains, and Erick Mead's thoughts about torsion that I really started to put some more thoughts together.
This thread made me think a lot about intent, liuhebafa, and taiji. It also provided good information about interchange between the two arts and mentions the warrior attendants of Buddha which is a posture in taiji and the Aun statues are based on the same statues. Common threads abound. (http://rumsoakedfist.org/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=10525&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&start=0)
A good Hiden Magazine article about Liuhebafa and some of its logic. (http://www.liuhebafachuan.com/Liuhebafa%20-%20The%20Pursuit%20of%20Martial%20Logic.pdf)
Another Hiden Magazine article about Liuhebafa which tells of some of the intent functions of its lineage members and their teaching divergences. (http://www.liuhebafachuan.com/Liuhebafa%20Traditions%20in%20Japan.pdf)
01-14-2011, 04:56 PM
Something else I just thought about today like a big hammer hitting me in the head. I'll talk more about it in more Western terms as I hash out the physiology of it over the coming months and I hope you guys will bear with me for using jargon without links for now. I'll try to explain it as best I can and I know it gets kind of convoluted.
Whilst pondering the chakras, the three dantians and their locations, the idea of Hunyuan, as well as the the anatomy of the spine and theory of liuhebafa I came to the idea of this visualization for practice. It's not really original but I have to toy with this around some more to try to explain it easily and possibly demystify it if possible.
A bit of expansion on chakras and dantians for a moment please. I think each dantian is a concentration of several things and each relates to several chakras and anatomical features. If I recall correctly Dan Harden has mentioned that he typically focuses on his lower back in preference over the front of his abdomen in contrast to most taiji players; while yet another perspective from some LHBF players is that they eventually learn to move from the coccyx which is somewhat reminiscent of John Chang. Fascia (qi), bone, nerves, and endocrine glands are the things I typically look for in concentration when trying to define a dantian. Chakras, specific muscle groups, fascial chains, and acupoints are far more specific and esoteric than I want to talk about today.
So the lower dantian described in the lower abdomen is the major yin or earth energy center, the central and peripheral nervous systems are concentrated in the area including: myofascial densities around the inguinal creases, the abdomen, lower back, buttocks, and genitals, the large and small intestines intersect which are very connected to the peripheral nervous system, the visceral fascial interaction of the organs all connects in odd ways to the navel and the spine, also do not forget that the kidneys and sexual organs are nearby as well. We'll get into it more deeply later as I still have much research to do in the coming months and years. I'll try to limit the health related aspects to my blog instead of here on AikiWeb.
Now on to the visualization. Let each dantian be three spheres that can roll in all directions. Also kind of imagine a sleeve around it. A good physical representation of this may be three tennis balls wrapped in two concentric socks. Kind of ties into the double bag thing for cell structure in biology. Tensegrity goes all the way down to cellular level interaction look at integrins! Try making a get up like that sock or maybe screw around with the idea in Fantastic Contraption some.
Breathe in however manner you want but notice the interaction of the three dantians and your physical movement while as relaxed as possible. I recommend for beginners who are not familiar with deep breathing exercises to start with the bottom and move up as far as dantian focus goes. Later try focus When next practicing standing meditation or doing solo exercises try this visualization of three balls, notice how your breathing effects it. Think of your three balls as conveyor wheels with a belt going from one end of them to another. Try the conveyor belt clockwise and counterclockwise, up and down, left and right, and whatever other direction you can think of. I sometimes think of "X"es between the dantians kind of like those circular tables made of sticks that are at an angle and are narrow in the middle kind of like an hourglass.
I think an easier way to demonstrate the torsional and "spiral" force the easiest demonstration again is tennis balls and two socks but this time only two tennis balls. Put one tennis ball in the toe of the sock and another at the mouth. Then close another sock around it so that they are one within the other. You may need to sacrifice a pair of socks to this experiment and secure the balls with some super glue to the first sock. Now grasp the two balls between your hands with your fingers such that you are not gripping much past the center of the outer hemisphere for each ball. Twist them in opposite directions. The torsional effect of the twist produces a spiral appearance in the fabric between the balls. If there is ribbing in the socks the spiral effect is more exaggerated.
I have to think some more about the embryological development and physiology and how it fits into the double bag thing some more. Tom Myers got me thinking about it and I think that middle ball is the connector between the edges of one side of the double bag.
I think that if you are able to move in a manner that coordinates the three balls of your body well the limbs are secondary but they can be coordinated to move along their alternating planes to maximize use of and produce centrifugal and centripetal forces inside and outside your body.
About footwork, I think of each foot as a half circle and that the outside edge going from the heel to the ball under my big toe on the bottom of each foot is along the edge of the circle. I try to alternate in a taiji manner between the heel and the ball of my foot.
01-14-2011, 05:04 PM
Oh and I also think about a small concentric circle within the foot corresponding to the arches and that curve. One foot in front of the other can lead to an "S" like energy flow forward and backward and movement along horizontal lines makes something of a sine wave. Then if you put into another dimension and think of that sine wave as a coil in a line progressing up and down upon a specific trajectory. I think this is a more scientific way to explain silk reeling and ground path. Sorry if I'm sounding like Erick Mead here I know it's not language most people think of but I try to make simple demonstrations like the socks.
01-15-2011, 12:31 AM
Friends, I have polished these thoughts a little bit more and have embedded links within my blog post as well as thought of a new tool to assist with training.
01-16-2011, 09:09 PM
Friends, I have polished these thoughts a little bit more and have embedded links within my blog post as well as thought of a new tool to assist with training.
http://internalpowersac.blogspot.com/2011/01/more-thoughts-about-silk-reeling.htmlYour linked blog post was interesting. The traditional Chinese categories are always highly correlated with close observation and they have immense value for that reason. They don't tease out discrete causes however, which is the Western forte. Explaining those traditional correlations and breaking them out into discrete elements of cause is the task at hand, IMO, and there are many ways of looking at it, even in a Western idiom. Based on your post you may make more use of this than some will even attempt. So here you are The images below may take a while to be aviilable as I just loaded them
You may recall a diagram (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=509&d=1215185239) I put together showing shear stress spirals on a cylinder in torsion.
I have since been thinking about those shear stress spirals on a sphere http://www.aikiweb.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=1989&cat=500&ppuser=7854 -- which your approach is also examining aspects of. I find this physical model useful to my thoughts at the moment -- "spherical rotation" and all that.
You may also note the similarity of the shear stress spirals to these figures http://www.aikiweb.com/gallery/showphoto.php?photo=1990&cat=500&ppuser=7854 (Lissajous curves) which generally describe the motion of double pendulums (like our arms and legs), which further draws the connections between the forms in motion (rotation or angular momentum) and those in stillness (torsional shear stress or moment profiles).
Note that the angles of the spirals are somewhat wrong-- I don't know where to find or how generate a true 45 deg loxodrome image -- but the general idea is sound, and relative relationships approximately right. The stress profiles invert at the poles continuously without losing any moment or power. If you fix the bottom end in place it rotates one way -- if you fix the top end in place it rotates the other way -- but from the same orientation of stress, you don't have to reverse the stress just the point of attachment, like changing from the left foot to the right foot as the point of support. (in other words, your idea about more than one of these spherical action potentials observable in the body seems spot on).
Note, too, how on the combined spherical shear stress image showing the overlap of the opposed stress spirals, the major lower one to the front seems to correspond to the hara/xia dantian and the major one behind the sphere and above it seems to correspond to the upper cross/zhong dantian, and the one to the front, just above that to the shang dantian.
01-17-2011, 10:07 PM
Here are the images in the post above as the AikiWeb gallery is tooooooo slow to post them:
Lissajous curve (describing the action of multiple pendulums)
And torsional shear stress applied to a sphere:
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