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Old 12-07-2012, 12:25 PM   #367
Thomas Campbell
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 407
Re: Is aiki a clash of forces?

Mert Gambito wrote: View Post

Do you know if there were any follow-ups to this research conducted and published since 2008?

Ryan and Mert--

While the bajiquan shown in that motion-study clip is exterrnally impressive, Chen Xiang can do things more related to his taiji training that are even more skillful (in my opinion) and not really addressed with what the Stanford students were monitoring. Chen exhibits (I've felt) very strong "pulsing" power with no windup, very heavy connected arms when striking or doing push-hands (and can "turn off" the connection so you can feel the difference), and excellent neutralization. Chen was in Seattle and the Bay Area in October. I think he comes to the Bay Area at least once a year: maybe the Stanford lab could measure the external movement of the more subtle taiji work.

But the real interest in "no-inch power" I think would be in "tissue recruitment," which can also be measured in various ways. Some of the scrawny guys who demonstrate amazing feats of strength are said to recruit more motor units with a higher stimulation frequency. This is a largely neural function that to a certain extent can be trained. There are limits, of course (see, for example, ).

This kind of pulsing power is the yang side of the situation. But it's the way that the highly-skilled guys can use their power under pressure that makes it so effective, i.e., more than dumb force-on-force. For example, the angle relative to the line of incoming/attacking force at which they apply the power is important to its effectiveness in fighting (d'oh). Even more critical is the skill of neutralization--that is the yin side of the equation. Balancing forces within you--the "aiki in me" Dan writes about--is very important.

That obviously wasn't addressed by the Stanford motion study of Chen's bajiquan. But tissue recruitment and functioning during neutralization is possible to monitor. It would be expensive--and unlikely to receive a NIH grant anytime soon--and there are a paucity of credible research subjects. I just wanted to mention it because people get distracted by the external impressiveness of outward-directed power when the more subtle but equally critical skills of neutralization (without bracing) get ignored.
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