Chuck Gordon wrote:
The human hand (and the human body) is quite a bit tougher than we think, and most feats of breaking and such are really more slight-of-hand, confidence and good physics than they are the result of iron-hand conditioning. That's just MHO, others' mileage may vary.
I tend to agree. I can do some spectacular breaks once every 3 years or so when someone convinces me to do it, but I'm always a little embarrassed to be caught in those situations because it reeks of carnival shows and the type of martial arts BS I sort of dislike (mainly because it's beside the point, I think). The main focus is on physics, as you say, although conditioning plays a part.
I don't buy into the concept of ki or chi as used by some martial artists (friendly wave to Mike!), but the idea of using the allegory of ki/chi to engage proper ergonomics and to develop a confident and focused mindset are perfectly on target.
(Waves back with grin) Well, remember that I've said a number of times that "ki" is a generic term (I'm talking about the body usages, not all the others, at the moment)that encompasses 4-6 main factors of body skills (which seem to work in unison at times, but I can't fully get it past the imaginary physiologist in my mind). If I "hit" you with my ki, it refers to two main factors of kokyu and the body skill/conditioning deriving from breathing and movement practice. But focusing in on the specific conditioning, not the act of hitting, let me tell a quick relevant anecdote involving one of my teachers:
Once we were at a restaurant with a group of people and some people were discussing the different ways to cheat at ki/qi demonstrations, particularly the one where a spear point is placed at someone's throat and he leans into the spear so that the shaft of the spear bends in the hands of his assistant (there's several ways to cheat this a bit). My teacher , when asked, agreed that a lot of those demonstrations had an element of cheat to them but he said that there is a real skill like that if you train right. He stood up, took one of the unused bamboo chopsticks from in front of my plate and placed the pointy tip against his throat between the adam's apple and the hollow at the clavicle. Then he turned around and faced the brick wall behind him (by now most of us were up close and peering intently) and placed the blunt end of the chopstick horizontally against the wall. Then he suddenly made a pulse of power/movement straight into the wall. The chopstick splintered into its bamboo fibers. Everyone (including me) was stunned. When asked how he did it, my teacher said, "some people call it qi... but in this case it just shows the human body can be conditioned more than most people realize."
It's this same kind of conditioning I'm talking about, Chuck. I know how to do it and I vaguely do some of it sometimes (used to do more), but a lot of these things boil down to how much time you want to devote and how driven you are to condition any and everything of your body. Besides, this other kind of conditioning is fairly well known, it turns out, so I'm not positing anything really new, except to people who haven't encountered the idea. Even Shioda's book "Aikido Shugyu" mentions that with proper training the body becomes more or less impervious to blows... same thing.