1) What role, if any, does static training or zhan zhuang (standing meditation) play in the development of internal power?
My experience with yiquan is that they tend to develop the three pairs of opposing forces in a static way first. But, Aunkai has one training dynamically from the beginning. Would their method benefit from some static training? What exercises provide one with the most bang for their practice time buck?
2) What role, if any, does auxillary western-based strength training play in the development of the "actualized IP practitioner"?
Surely, if one person that trained only IP (through MMA based Aunkai or Dan Harden's methods) crossed hands with someone that trained IP AND strength trained, would not the second individual come out on top, assuming the same level of skill development? I ask this because I have heard the Ark is well...ripped and I have heard that Dan Harden is a physical beast (I mean this in a good way, no disrespect). It is my understanding that these exercises do not train the superficial muscles as much as the tissues beneath (tendons, fascia, etc.). I personally train in Crossfit-type and High Internsity Training (HIT) workouts.
3) What role does tension play in the development of IP?
Is tension required only in as far as to retain your alignments or is more tension better? It seems some methods use less and some use more. How much is enough?
Thought I'd chime in since all the questions posed were pretty general questions that I imagine most people have.
1) Mabu is done statically at first, so we do have "static" training.
The static training trains, the 6 opposing directions, dropping the diaphram down, or in essence keeping the weight in the feet (keeping weight underside), while recognizing the pull down the front of the body, and the pull along the back of the body, both of which are used to support the arms, coupling that with a basic force coming up underneath from the ground to support the arms etc etc.
2) Depends what kind of extra strength training you're doing, but for most people I'd say its a no-go (speaking from my own experience as well). If anything, legs are one thing that may benefit from a bit of strength training, but if you do the static exercises correctly the leg strength should automatically be augmented.
Can't speak for Dan, but Ark was originally a gymnast, and therefore was already "ripped" to a ridiculous degree. I've asked him personally and he said that he felt his training as a gymnast actually hampered his development in this stuff, and knowing what I know now, I'd have to agree.
If you follow the logic of this stuff, trying to strength train, while learning Jin/Kokyu skills is kind of like having a skill in a musical instrument, let's say Drums, then wanting to learn to play the Violin. Sure they're both in the realm of music, but use completely different mechanics. Trying to bring the mechanics of Drum playing would only set you back and doesn't really make much sense. Besides which, this stuff is like strength training anyways...and like any strength training, you can gradually increase the loads you work with as you get better. But you need to work with the loads using the "unusual" kind of body-mechanics.
Add to this, you have a whole lot of local muscle responses that act involuntarily to incoming loads, that are typically amplified by normal strength training, and it turns into a one step forward, two steps back deal.
By the by, most southern arts such as Pak Mei, Hung Gar, Uechi etc, use muscle tension to increase the "pressure" created in the body. Not only is that kind of pressure typically unhealthy (pressure can go to the head), the quality of the power created is completely different compared to "purer" approaches. I'd suggest you get hands on time and decide for yourself.
3) The tension is more of a "stretch" tension, building a "suit" of connection first. The amount of tension is something that's best shown. More precisely its the "quality" of tension that's important.