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Old 10-24-2007, 08:07 AM   #1
Timothy WK
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An exercise that illustrates internal power

Before I found a teacher, I was often confused by the things people would say about internal movement. What are these people talking about? How can you use the abdomen to "do the work of" the limbs? That just doesn't make sense.

I still can't do much internally, but I've gotten glimpses here and again, so I can appreciate how people move this way. I may get corrected on this, but I believe I've found an exercise that anyone can do (let's hope it's not just me) that illustrates how internal movement maybesortakinda "works".
  • Stick out your forearm. It doesn't really matter how, but let's say hold it upwards.
  • Relax the hand, fingers, and wrist, and let the hand flop inward.
  • Notice the fingers. If your hand is relaxed, they should naturally extend or straighten.
  • Now, while keeping the hand and fingers relaxed, straighten the wrist and let the hand flop outward. If you want, you can keep the wrist relaxed and use your other hand to externally move the relaxed hand.
  • Now notice the fingers. If the hand is relaxed, the fingers should naturally close or clench as the wrist is moved.
  • Try moving the wrist back and forth a few times. Notice that movement is produced in the fingers without any "effort" on the part of the fingers themselves (I know technically the fingers are moved by muscles in the forearm, but you know what I mean).

I believe this works because the tendons in the forearm are a fixed length. When the wrist is moved inward, slack is created in the inner tendons, while the outer tendons are pulled taunt. This causes the fingers to extend. Vice versa when the wrist is moved outward.

This isn't exactly the way internal movement "works", but it sortakindamaybe illustrates the experience of moving internally, or at least illustrates how someone can use the abdomen to move the limbs. The actual thing is quite a bit more complicated, but as practicioners learn to manifest and maintain certain "tensions" throughout the body (most likely fascia-related), like the finger example, if they move one part of their body, other parts get "pulled along" by the tension. This example also illustrates the need to "balance" the internal tensions.

For example, a while ago I was doing my exercises, and I extended one arm to make a slight adjustment. Immediate I noticed that my other arm got pulled back, though I wasn't putting any effort into that arm. I started playing with it, and found that whenever I moved one arm, the other arm was pulled in an opposite manner. (I sorta looked like I was practicing karate punches... hmmm...) I also noticed that as I did this, there was a very real band of tension across my upper back from arm to arm. (Too bad I can't produce this phenomenon all the time...)

So, when Mike et al discuss using the center to move, they are quite literally talking about using the muscles and other internal structures within the abdomen to produce movement in the limbs. Again like the finger example, if they move their abdomen, the limbs or whatever will get pulled along. This is, I believe, why internal movement produces such unified or coordinated movement. Practitioners are making a "single" movement within their abdomen, and the rest of their body gets pulled along. "One part moves all parts", as they say.

--Timothy Kleinert

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Old 10-24-2007, 11:18 AM   #2
Mike Sigman
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

Not a bad area to think about, TK. Remember though that there is outward force (jin) through the bones in addition to connective forces (jin), a part of which you're playing with. I.e, there is the Ki of Heaven *and* the Ki of Earth.

If you want to use your route to think and play with, try looking at some of the diagrams of the connections in the standing postures illustrated in Mantak Chia's book, "Iron Shirt Chi Gung Part I". The area you're looking at is part of what is called the muscle-tendon channels and Thomas Myers essentially "borrowed" (I didn't see where he credited them) those channel ideas in his book "Anatomy Trains".

Best.

Mike
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Old 10-24-2007, 11:32 AM   #3
Lee Salzman
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

A necessary hypothetical question to ask: why would one want to do all the work with their abdomen?

Imagine the body standing up. It's a (vertical in this case) line. Look at all the musculature along its length. Now, if you were to pick any muscle along that line, and have it try to move the entire body, then you are pitting the strength of one single muscle (say, the hip flexor) against all the rest of the body. Almost the entirety of your body above some particular muscle is dead, non-functional/non-contributing weight, and anything below it is non-functional/non-contributing as well. If you short-circuit any part of the line, trying to express force through somewhere closer, to the particular muscle you have singled out, then you may remove the non-functional weight, but you also remove any potential assistance from the rest of it too.

Now take that same situation, but start with every major joint in the body bent, and then have it all extend at the same instant back into that line. In that case, you're using the entire power the body can bring to bear to express a force along that line. "If one part moves, all parts move" - the unity of movement in the body is so ingrained that all parts are moving in any given movement - there are no breaks in the movement at any part of the body.

Taking your example. Rest one your other forearm on top of the fingers. Now straighten the wrist... Fingers collapse.

Try it again with fingers tensed into a straight line. You now have a solid lever to lift your other forearm with.

Now, start this time with fingers relaxed again. But straighten both the fingers and the wrists at the same time.

Or to make the effect more obvious: extend your arm from shoulder to finger tips into a straight line. Again rest your other forearm on top of the fingers. Now try to lift your other forearm by merely extending that unit at the shoulder. A lot of work for the shoulder.

Try it again but this time lifting with all the other joints to (bending the elbow joint, extending the fingers and wrist).

Or to make this even more obvious (with two different lever arms, but different amount of muscle participation):

Start with the elbow joint entirely bent, so you can rest your other arm directly on top of the elbow. Now lift that arm by merely lifting the elbow up with the shoulder.

Extend that arm out again (elbow joint no longer bent) so you now have a huge lever again, and rest your other arm on top of the wrist joint. Now lift at the shoulder AND bend the elbow joint. It's still easier.

Last edited by Lee Salzman : 10-24-2007 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 10-24-2007, 11:55 AM   #4
Mike Sigman
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
A necessary hypothetical question to ask: why would one want to do all the work with their abdomen?
Well, you don't do all that work with the abdomen. BTW, this stuff is common in legitimate Yiquan, too.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
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Old 10-24-2007, 12:12 PM   #5
Lee Salzman
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

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Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
BTW, this stuff is common in legitimate Yiquan, too.
I'd appreciate references to that effect, please.
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Old 10-24-2007, 12:22 PM   #6
Timothy WK
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

Lee,

The question of why to use the center is a really, really good one. I've often wondered that myself. I can say a few things about it, but I'm not going to pretend to be qualified enough to fully answer it.

Let's say we're pushing a heavy rock. We often think that the power of the quads gets added to the power of the glutes, which gets added to the power of the back, which gets added to the power of the arms. But this isn't true. The power of muscles don't really "add together".

In a chain of muscles, you're really only as strong as the weakest muscle. If you have a couple of strong muscles and one weak one, that weak muscle is going to collapse under the force of the stronger muscles.

I used to competitively bicycle. At first, my calf muscles were really weak. When I was going hard, using 100% of my quads and glutes, they would literally collapse. They couldn't stand up to the force generated by my larger muscles. My heel would drop until the ankle joint locked out. Over time, they strengthened. But still, all they ever did was transfer the force of my quads & glutes.

Technique overcomes this in a number of ways, most notably by using angles to reduce strain on weak muscles, and then transferring force through the skeleton. But still, you really only have one or two force generating muscles, and the rest just hold the joints and transfer energy.

(And note I'm only talking about raw power generation here. Quickly accelerating a limb or a small, light objects doesn't require much force, so that type of movement can benefit from multiple muscle/ joint movement.)

--Timothy Kleinert

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Old 10-24-2007, 12:32 PM   #7
Mike Sigman
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

Quote:
Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
I'd appreciate references to that effect, please.
Good god... I wouldn't know where to start. It's everywhere. Take a look at Lam Kam Chuen's "The Way of Power", as one example, and note that his references to the classical instructions and admonitions are also common to almost all other Chinese martial arts AND to many of the sayings in Aikido. Particularly, IIRC, comments about the 8 powers, etc., that are also mentioned by O-Sensei. It's all the same basic stuff, Lee.

Mike Sigman
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Old 10-24-2007, 12:44 PM   #8
Timothy WK
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

BTW, just to be clear---my finger "exercise" isn't any sort of practical training exercise. It's just an observation I made that illustrates a principle.

--Timothy Kleinert

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Old 10-29-2007, 12:30 PM   #9
Michael Douglas
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

Quote:
Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
...Or to make the effect more obvious: extend your arm from shoulder to finger tips into a straight line. Again rest your other forearm on top of the fingers. Now try to lift your other forearm by merely extending that unit at the shoulder. A lot of work for the shoulder.

Try it again but this time lifting with all the other joints to (bending the elbow joint, extending the fingers and wrist).

Or to make this even more obvious (with two different lever arms, but different amount of muscle participation):

Start with the elbow joint entirely bent, so you can rest your other arm directly on top of the elbow. Now lift that arm by merely lifting the elbow up with the shoulder.

Extend that arm out again (elbow joint no longer bent) so you now have a huge lever again, and rest your other arm on top of the wrist joint. Now lift at the shoulder AND bend the elbow joint. It's still easier.
Aarg, Lee I'm having trouble visualising and trying these ones, can you just explain them again?

Quote:
Timothy Walters Kleinert wrote: View Post
... The power of muscles don't really "add together".
In a chain of muscles, you're really only as strong as the weakest muscle. If you have a couple of strong muscles and one weak one, that weak muscle is going to collapse under the force of the stronger muscles.
... But still, all they (calves) ever did was transfer the force of my quads & glutes.
Great points Timothy, but I suspect only tangential to the 'internal strength' debate by other posters. No, what I mean is simply : great points, and I'm glad you posted that, because IF all human physical strength is a result of muscular tension, then THIS is a core principle to understand. If not, then bring on the fascia stuff ...
However, I personally am much more interested in using 'static strength' of calves to transmit quad/glute power ... and the associated methods. (I have a large arse) *cough*
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Old 10-29-2007, 01:10 PM   #10
Timothy WK
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

Hi Michael,

I guess I never completed my thought with that post. Lee was asking why we would want to use JUST ONE muscle group/mechanism (in this case, the center/abdomen) for movement, instead of utilizing all of our muscles. My response was that in reality, we ALWAYS only use one or two (or a very small number of) muscles for force generation. So the idea isn't actually all that weird.

--Timothy Kleinert

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Old 10-29-2007, 03:23 PM   #11
Lee Salzman
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

Quote:
Michael Douglas wrote: View Post
Aarg, Lee I'm having trouble visualising and trying these ones, can you just explain them again?
They were just made-up examples based on his made-up example to show a principle: if you are going to expend the energy to keep some downwind joint static (and hence not go totally floppy and collapse) while using another joint to do all the work of moving it, then why not just extend both joints as forcefully as possible, to utilize all the muscle in between? Otherwise, you just dampen your own force with your own body mass for no benefit.

The joints don't just stay at a fixed position by themselves, they use muscular force to do it (one muscle fighting against another, or if against an external object inhibiting itself partially) - so using less than the maximum voluntary force, or inhibiting the expression of that by freezing the joint rigid is bad resource management.

If it's a unifying principle for efficient movement of the whole body, then it should carry down to any joint(s) you look at. I think any small example should embody the entire principle, rather than just something kinda sorta maybe like it. In this case it was the joints of the wrist and arm, but could just as well be the toes, the fingers, the rotator cuff of the shoulder, the hip joint, the knee joint, the ankle joint, the neck, and onward ad nauseum.

Or to quote Neuromechanics of Human Movement - Third Edition, Roger M. Enoka, p102:
Quote:
Because the human body does not behave as a single rigid body, such as the bat, it is necessary to consider the motion of each body segment when calculating angular momentum. This requires a linked-system analysis, in which we calculate the angular momentum of each segment about its CM [center of mass] (local angular momentum) and then determine the angular momentum of the CM for each segment about the system (whole body) CM (remote angular momentum).
And that's just an introduction. There's a whole chapter on JUST how to calculate the combination of torques exerted by a system of joints. (That book is awesome.)

If you look at sports like weightlifting and powerlifting, they are entirely based off this principle. A strong snatch is not just generated by the hips, nor a strong bench press just generated by the chest (which can incidentally involve everything down to the legs), nor a strong squat just generated by the legs.

I don't think martially applicable strength need operate on wildly different principles from athletic strength, other than needing to operate at shorter time scales, with more agility, and with emphasis on generating force out from anywhere to anywhere. I used to think they were very different, but someone gave me some powerful illustration that they aren't so different as I thought.

Last edited by Lee Salzman : 10-29-2007 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 10-29-2007, 03:31 PM   #12
Mike Sigman
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

Quote:
Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
If you look at sports like weightlifting and powerlifting, they are entirely based off this principle. A strong snatch is not just generated by the hips, nor a strong bench press just generated by the chest (which can incidentally involve everything down to the legs), nor a strong squat just generated by the legs.
Nor is a jo-trick done with just the waist, either.

Mike
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Old 10-29-2007, 03:32 PM   #13
Aran Bright
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
Not a bad area to think about, TK. Remember though that there is outward force (jin) through the bones in addition to connective forces (jin), a part of which you're playing with. I.e, there is the Ki of Heaven *and* the Ki of Earth.

If you want to use your route to think and play with, try looking at some of the diagrams of the connections in the standing postures illustrated in Mantak Chia's book, "Iron Shirt Chi Gung Part I". The area you're looking at is part of what is called the muscle-tendon channels and Thomas Myers essentially "borrowed" (I didn't see where he credited them) those channel ideas in his book "Anatomy Trains".

Best.

Mike
There are some videos available of cadaver dissection that demonstrates these fascial pathways and how they connect from one part of the body to the other. By pulling on line of the "muscle-tendon channel" other parts of the body are moved along that channel.

Not something to try at home kiddies.

http://brisbaneaikido.com

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Old 10-30-2007, 02:10 PM   #14
Michael Douglas
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

Er, Lee I meant please explain those two exercises again, using different words. I didn't mean explain the principle again. I'd like to try those exercises but I can't quite understand what I am to do.
For example ;
Quote:
Or to make the effect more obvious: extend your arm from shoulder to finger tips into a straight line. Again rest your other forearm on top of the fingers.
...if my arm is extended this way I can't reach to put my other forearm ontop of the fingers of the straight arm, so I am definitely misunderstanding the exercise and need a re-description.

"So the idea isn't actually all that weird." says Tim, and I agree, the idea is good. I guess I was unclear about wholly agreeing with you.
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Old 10-30-2007, 03:54 PM   #15
Erick Mead
 
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

Quote:
Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
...example to show a principle: if you are going to expend the energy to...
If it's a unifying principle for efficient movement of the whole body, then it should carry down to any joint(s) you look at. I think any small example should embody the entire principle, rather than just something kinda sorta maybe like it. In this case it was the joints of the wrist and arm, but could just as well be the toes, the fingers, the rotator cuff of the shoulder, the hip joint, the knee joint, the ankle joint, the neck, and onward ad nauseum.

Or to quote Neuromechanics of Human Movement - Third Edition, Roger M. Enoka, p102
Quote:
Because the human body does not behave as a single rigid body, such as the bat, it is necessary to consider the motion of each body segment when calculating angular momentum. This requires a linked-system analysis, in which we calculate the angular momentum of each segment about its CM [center of mass] (local angular momentum) and then determine the angular momentum of the CM for each segment about the system (whole body) CM (remote angular momentum).
Thanks Lee. Very much in line with what I have been trying to piece together. I will have to get me a copy. It may help in better describing how the process of aiki both disrupts and optimizes those mechanics.

For another off-the-cuff example of an exercise of similar character , get two used milk jugs (full of water) or a hand weight of 10-15 pounds or so.

First. Curl the weight with the bicep to the shoulder rest position (this is what it should NOT feel like) .

Second. Swing both weights from side to side using hips and torso only, with no muscular flexion, with the arms wrapping the torso slightly at the reversals ( this is what it should feel like when you raise them, shortly).

Third. Raise one weight to the shoulder rest position using the hip to throw the weight there, using the hips only, and no muscular flexion at all.

Fourth. Alternate doing it left and right in this manner, in continuous sucession.

Fifth, Raise both together the same way. (funetori).

Sixth. Perform happo undo with the weights, reorienting them as in the second exercise, and raising them together the same way each time in each new direction

Seventh. Substitute a person(s) for the weights and do the same things.

Eighth. Have fun

Cordially,

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 10-30-2007, 11:21 PM   #16
dps
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

Quote:
Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
Neuromechanics of Human Movement - Third Edition, Roger M. Enoka, p102:
http://books.google.com/books?id=-dt...mbnail#PPP1,M1

David
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Old 10-31-2007, 04:54 AM   #17
Beard of Chuck Norris
 
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
...
A strong snatch is not just generated by the hips
...
Brilliant.
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Old 11-01-2007, 01:58 PM   #18
Michael Douglas
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

The double-entendre is so tempting.
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Old 11-16-2007, 06:52 PM   #19
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Re: An exercise that illustrates internal power

Quote:
Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
Well, you don't do all that work with the abdomen. BTW, this stuff is common in legitimate Yiquan, too.

Regards,

Mike Sigman
Mike,
Do you know of any "legitimate" Yiquan schools in Orange County, CA?
Short of that, do you know of any good instruction in Orange County for learning Internal Power?

I bought your dvds from Plum flower, and finally understood how to generate real power from Pi Chen. I am a beginner in Xing yi and have been totally frustrated in not being able to figure out how to generate some of its legendary power.

It finally clicked that the opening fist in Pi Chen is a hinge movement, generated from a body drop...very much like Bruce Lee's One Inch Punch. I could never understand how a drop could result in outward force, but thanks to your explanation, I feel I have finally been given the keys to understand the hidden power within the Internal Arts!

HOWEVER...if there was a nearby instructor that really understands it, it can save me years of struggling to figure it all out. So, thanks ahead of time if you can steer me in the right direction!
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