Timothy Walters Kleinert
I spoke with my doctor friend briefly the other night. They conceded that yes, it's possible for the fascia to contract, but it doesn't normally. They said it was one of those situations where doctors don't understand why it would ever need to contract.
I explained the martial art rational, and it's advantages for martial movement, and they said said it made intuitive sense, though they couldn't confirm or deny it.
Mike (or anybody), I'm curious about when and how the theory about the fascia developed. Can you shed any light on it?
The oldest available writings on developing ki-strength in China refer to the usaged of connective-tissue/fascia/tendons, etc. So the fascia part of the discussion probably went back 2-6 thousand years, at least. Yang Jwing Ming put out a book that contains some of the oldest comments, but the translations are fuzzy (because it's hard for anyone to understand the old characters and idioms). I think the book is a good one to have for the library of someone really interested in a glimpse at the old references, althought they don't tell you much and YJM's added commentaries are always suspect (IMO), so take them with a grain of salt.
My wife is a doctor (an orthopedic surgeon) and she doesn't have much trouble with the concepts being offshoots of things shes knows about anatomy and physiology, even though they're not what she learned in medical school. Although the concepts are a little odd, there's nothing contradictory between these developments, as far as I know.