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Old 12-12-2010, 04:17 PM   #1
Tim Fong
 
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Spear Training for Internal Power

Spear Training:
The purpose of this post is to explain how I've currently interpreted* the Aunkai spear training as a solo conditioning tool, and as a means of understanding how to use the lower body to off balance an opponent and increase the power of strikes. You will check your understanding via a chest push in the spear stance, and then ultimately with feet parallel.

Identifying the muscles at work.
For the purposes of this post I will discuss one movement, spear thrusting. Spear thrusting can be used to develop the strength of the psoas and back extensors.
Before we can strengthen the psoas, we have to identify it. More specifically, we have to identify the psoas major.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psoas_major_muscle

As you can see, there are two psoas major in the body, one on the right and one on the left. We have to identify for ourselves each one inside our bodies. We can do that with a specialized stretch, called the Massachusetts Stretch.

Massachusetts Stretch:
Lay down on your back, bend your knees and put your feet on the floor. See:
http://www.creationsmagazine.com/articles/C89/Koch.html
Put your hands on your abdomen.

Then, push down into the floor with your right leg. Use this to support you as you lift
your knee of your left leg, lifting your foot off the ground. Once you lift your left leg enough so that the calf is parallel to the floor, extend your left leg and point your heel. Hold this position, while making sure that the muscles at the front of your abdomen remain relaxed. Then, slowly lower the left leg until your foot is about 6 inches off the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds, then relax completely and let your left leg rest on the floor. Be aware of what you feel in your torso-- you should feel a muscle that is attached to your spine and leg, and you should feel it stretch as you lower your leg to the floor. That's the psoas.

Repeat on the other side. Keep repeating this exercise until you can get a clear sense of the psoas. Over the next few weeks you can also try this exercise at random times while you are lying on your bed getting ready to sleep.

Correction:
Previously, Rob John and I published a an article and web posts discussing the shintaijiku exercise.
You can see video of Akuzawa practicing the exercise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrzLp0o0oGk
We discussed splitting the body up into three axes: center, left and right. What we did not discuss (because we didn't clearly understand at that point) was that the psoas served to connect each axis of the body to the spine.

Static Spear Thrust.
Now that you have identified your psoas, it's time to use it in the spear thrust. You can use a typical 6 foot hardwood staff as your training implement. When you take the spear and sit down into the back leg to prepare the thrust, you should feel the psoas stretch in the front leg. Specifically, you should feel the psoas connecting the spine and the femur. The deeper you sit and the more you twist to be sidways, the more you should feel this.

Now, you will extend the spear forward. Push off the ground with the back leg, and allow your body to be twisted to face forward. Your pelvis will tilt forward-- this is functionally the same position that is held in the Aunkai stillness training. As you extend your arms in the spear thrust, and pivot to face the front, you will want to feel the psoas tighten on the back leg. Once you have fully extended the spear, you should feel the weigh of the spear actually stressing the psoas on the back leg, specifically toward the top of the femur. You will want to feel the back leg connect to the front hand, and the front leg connect to the back hand. You will want to lift the head and feel the tail bone pulling downwards, even at the full extended position. There is some other stuff going on with the cross (upper chest/shoulder girdle) as well but I'm going to leave that out for now. If you've been doing a lot of jujiko then you can play with that awareness during the thrust as well.

Depending on how much conditioning you already have in your body, you may also feel like your skin is stretching as a result of the weight of the staff. You can try to feel like the entire back of your body, from your heels, up the hamstrings to the top of your head, is being stretched by the bo.

Once you feel like you have hung out long enough, just retract the staff. You can do this by sitting down into your stance, and then allowing your torso to rotate as a result of your pelvis rotating back towards the rear leg. By rotation, I mean rotating with the spine as an axis. If the rear leg psoas is tightened by your thrust, then you will naturally twist back towards the leg anyways. As you twist back and retract the spear, you will tighten the psoas on the front leg again.

Simply repeat this exercise for 15 minutes, with equal numbers of reps on both sides. If this is too easy for you , then get a 12 foot tanren yari. You can also do this against a cable pull machine.

Off balancing through the spear:
Have your partner resist you on the spear as you try to thrust it forward. At first just go force on force for a few reps and try to focus on pushing the back leg hard against the ground, and going force on force.

Then, have your partner give you a steady push on the spear. Try to manipulate the spear from left to right. As you do this, you will alternate which foot bears the incoming force, and , most importantly, towards which psoas you will rotate your pelvis, relative to your spine. If you perform this movement correctly, then you will slightly off balance your partner. Once you feel your partner's weight shift, then extend the spear as before. Done correctly, you will have an easier time extending the spear, because your opponent will not be on balance. Lack of balance makes grounding the force more difficult for your opponent. To check yourself, then work with a partner who is heavier.

Chest Push:
Now that you have learned how to off balance someone through the spear, it's time to try the chest push. Get into the spearing stance without holding a spear. Have your partner gently place their hand on your chest. You want to make sure that your partner's weight is resting on yoWhile lightly resting your hands on your partners arm, try to switch from side to side as you did while holding the spear. Just treat the partner's arm as if it is a spear. . This is what some people call "grabbing the center." If you do this correctly, you should significantly off balance your partner with minimal movement of your torso. You can also experiment with trying to tilt your pelvis forward and drive your partner down, again with minimal movement and zero pain felt by your partner.

Once you feel like you can do this in a spearing stance on both sides (right leg forward/left leg forward) then try the same drill in a front stance. You can also work up to doing this with your feet parallel.

The limit of this will of course be your own body mass vs your partner's and also your own level of conditioning. Getting the force out to the hands requires a fairly strong cross and this conditioning is accomplished via the standard Aunkai basics.

Pushout:
After doing the chest push with feet parallel, try doing pushout with your partner. You should be able to use the exact same spearing mechanics to move your partner around, especially if your partner is simply using passive structure.

Striking:
You can also use this mechanic to drive a low roundhouse, cross, jab etc. That also requires articulating the shoulder girdle, which I have not covered in this post.

Conclusion:
It's important also to try this movement out in some kind of freestyle setting, such as standup grappling. You should see that as you get stronger and more habituated to this kind of movement, that you should be more balanced and stronger when you engage your opponent. You can also try training this like a kind of plyometrics and using the same motion explosively to set up or execute throws.

The spearing mechanic incorporates what some people call dantian rotation. In that notation, the dantian is the concept of a giant ball in the lower abdomen. In that notation, the forward and backward tilt of the pelvis is conceding rotating the dantian back and forth. The rotation around the spine is considered horizontal rotation. However, as you can see from the instant post, you can train these things very directly via an anatomical perspective.

*If you want to know how Akuzawa does it exactly, I recommend you attend one of his overseas seminars or classes in Tokyo.
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:05 PM   #2
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post
Before we can strengthen the psoas, we have to identify it. More specifically, we have to identify the psoas major.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psoas_major_muscle

As you can see, there are two psoas major in the body, one on the right and one on the left.
Quote:
The psoas minor is a long, slender skeletal muscle which, when present, is located in front of the psoas major muscle. This muscle does not exist in about half the human population.
Do those with psoas minor's have a natural advantage here?
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:54 PM   #3
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Ricky,
I don't know. Anyone out there want to get us some lab time and funding so we can find out? =)

Tim
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Old 12-13-2010, 06:45 AM   #4
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post
Static Spear Thrust.
Now that you have identified your psoas, it's time to use it in the spear thrust. You can use a typical 6 foot hardwood staff as your training implement. When you take the spear and sit down into the back leg to prepare the thrust, you should feel the psoas stretch in the front leg. Specifically, you should feel the psoas connecting the spine and the femur. The deeper you sit and the more you twist to be sidways, the more you should feel this.

Now, you will extend the spear forward. Push off the ground with the back leg, and allow your body to be twisted to face forward. Your pelvis will tilt forward-- this is functionally the same position that is held in the Aunkai stillness training. As you extend your arms in the spear thrust, and pivot to face the front, you will want to feel the psoas tighten on the back leg. Once you have fully extended the spear, you should feel the weigh of the spear actually stressing the psoas on the back leg, specifically toward the top of the femur. You will want to feel the back leg connect to the front hand, and the front leg connect to the back hand. You will want to lift the head and feel the tail bone pulling downwards, even at the full extended position. There is some other stuff going on with the cross (upper chest/shoulder girdle) as well but I'm going to leave that out for now. If you've been doing a lot of jujiko then you can play with that awareness during the thrust as well.

Depending on how much conditioning you already have in your body, you may also feel like your skin is stretching as a result of the weight of the staff. You can try to feel like the entire back of your body, from your heels, up the hamstrings to the top of your head, is being stretched by the bo.

Once you feel like you have hung out long enough, just retract the staff. You can do this by sitting down into your stance, and then allowing your torso to rotate as a result of your pelvis rotating back towards the rear leg. By rotation, I mean rotating with the spine as an axis. If the rear leg psoas is tightened by your thrust, then you will naturally twist back towards the leg anyways. As you twist back and retract the spear, you will tighten the psoas on the front leg again.
Hello Tim,

Can you give a bit more details here? I'm not able to visualize the body doing this.

From the very start, where are your feet pointed? Where are your hips pointed? Where is your face pointed? Are all three in align? Whole body facing forward with the spear? Or are you facing one direction and the spear is 90 degrees from that?

You say that when extending the spear, "allow your body to be twisted to face forward", so I'm guessing that you aren't starting with the body aligned with the spear? So, what position is the body in when you start?

Do the feet move? Do the hips turn? How?

I just can't get myself to visualize what you're trying to do.

Thanks,
Mark
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Old 12-13-2010, 07:56 AM   #5
dps
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Quote:
Ricky Wood wrote: View Post
Do those with psoas minor's have a natural advantage here?
It is a mistake not to consider the role of connective tissue (fascia) in these types of discussions

http://fitzgordonmethod.blogspot.com...oas-minor.html

dps

Last edited by dps : 12-13-2010 at 08:02 AM.
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:46 AM   #6
Tim Fong
 
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Hello Tim,

Can you give a bit more details here? I'm not able to visualize the body doing this.
Hi Mark,
I don't have video of myself doing this, but here's a general outline of the movement:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGjoOM9taYc

I don't think she's working on the same things I am working on but the overall shape is similar. I sit much lower and activate the psoases.

David,
Thanks I will check that out.

Tim
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Old 12-13-2010, 12:09 PM   #7
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Stills of the spear exercise:
http://budoshugyosha.over-blog.com/a...-60117698.html
Some of the French Aunkai people have put up a blog post, with pictures, of the spear thrusting exercise.

When Akuzawa showed the material to us in California, he had us do the thrust with a staff, then had us put the staff down and perform the action as a punch.
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Old 12-13-2010, 01:12 PM   #8
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Those illustrations show a nice common theme of how you align the back/middle so that the legs have to carry the load of the upper body, similar to a certain bowing of the back or a body lined up against the wall and sinking slightly so that you train to take out the space between the wall and your lower back.
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Old 12-14-2010, 05:58 AM   #9
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Thanks for the clarification, Tim.
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Old 12-14-2010, 06:10 AM   #10
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post
Stills of the spear exercise:
http://budoshugyosha.over-blog.com/a...-60117698.html
Some of the French Aunkai people have put up a blog post, with pictures, of the spear thrusting exercise.
in the blog, there are pictures of a gentleman who did the spear trust. personally, don't care for the way he straighten out his rear leg. it would create tightness in his hips. then again, i don't practice aunkai so don't know the details behind that. my personal preference is not to straighten out the legs and keep the hips area relax and round.
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Old 12-14-2010, 01:37 PM   #11
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Budd,
I noticed from your profile that you're at an MMA gym now. Have you found the attributes and movement patterns you've gained from spear shaking to have noticeably altered your striking game?

Mark,
Any time. From your questions, I gathered that you might have concerns over the fact that the pelvis rotates so that it's no long fully facing the front. Is that the case?

For grappling, yeah, I'd rather keep my hips square as much as possible because turning sideways opens me up to counters, aka all the big pickup counters to forward throws that the Soviets introduced to judo competition. But in a game where striking is involved, I find (for me) that it's advantageous to be able to sometimes use the shoulder roll/philly shell type defense. I know that some people think that can't be used in an MMA or kickboxing environment, and that in that environment one has to square up and stand tall. However, if you take a look at Josh Barnett, for example, he does use the shell/shoulder roll in MMA:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iglmUG7TpK8

Phi,
When you say hips, could you specify which muscles you find overly tight when the back leg locks out? I ask ,because its difficult to communicate these things in the written word, and I find it's an easier basis for discussion when we can use anatomical terms. That way, we all can agree what we mean by things like "hips," "back" etc.

Best,
Tim
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:10 PM   #12
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Hi Tim,

Well, from the spear work I've done it's been primarily towards two ends - building up the power of the middle and then being able to convey that out my hands. At the gym, the two biggest differentials I see from this type of training is that there's an inherent stability gain while still being loose and soft. Where the power out the hands kicks in is in gnp or dirty boxing ranges as you can bring more of you to bear from less distance or windup.

At least at the level I'm at, it's far from a panacea or silver bullet - these are tough guys that fight in the casino shows up at the Niagara and regional pro events all over. So, by no means is it a walk through - but what I'm working towards in the long run is imposing my game in their space rather than being forced to play theirs.
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Old 12-15-2010, 06:39 AM   #13
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post
Mark,
Any time. From your questions, I gathered that you might have concerns over the fact that the pelvis rotates so that it's no long fully facing the front. Is that the case?

For grappling, yeah, I'd rather keep my hips square as much as possible because turning sideways opens me up to counters, aka all the big pickup counters to forward throws that the Soviets introduced to judo competition. But in a game where striking is involved, I find (for me) that it's advantageous to be able to sometimes use the shoulder roll/philly shell type defense. I know that some people think that can't be used in an MMA or kickboxing environment, and that in that environment one has to square up and stand tall. However, if you take a look at Josh Barnett, for example, he does use the shell/shoulder roll in MMA:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iglmUG7TpK8

Best,
Tim
Hi Tim,

Actually, I just couldn't tell how you were doing the exercise. I'm a bit dense at times. After you posted with more details, I got the picture (pun intended).

I haven't met or trained with Akuzawa, but from people talking and the vids, he's way too structural, mobile, and powerful to do any of the "normal" mistakes like bracing, having tight hips, etc.

So, rereading your posts, I have a hard time trying to understand what's really being worked internally. And as you said, "its difficult to communicate these things in the written word". I pretty much know for sure there's other stuff going on, but I'll wait until I can get my hands on someone (you, Rob, Ark, etc) so that I can ask (hopefully) intelligent questions.

Thanks,
Mark
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Old 12-15-2010, 08:19 AM   #14
phitruong
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post
When you say hips, could you specify which muscles you find overly tight when the back leg locks out? I ask ,because its difficult to communicate these things in the written word, and I find it's an easier basis for discussion when we can use anatomical terms. That way, we all can agree what we mean by things like "hips," "back" etc.

Tim
i used to straighten out the leg too until i was told that i created tension around the area between my hips joints, the creases in front of my crotch. also, the opposite muscles behind my buttock also tensed up. essentially i created corners and creases at various area around my groins and hips. easy to create braces. so i was told to keep things round and soft and no creases, sort of like arc/bow shape.
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Old 12-16-2010, 07:22 AM   #15
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
i used to straighten out the leg too until i was told that i created tension around the area between my hips joints, the creases in front of my crotch. also, the opposite muscles behind my buttock also tensed up. essentially i created corners and creases at various area around my groins and hips. easy to create braces. so i was told to keep things round and soft and no creases, sort of like arc/bow shape.
I'm not sure if I'm doing it right, but my leg becomes straight when I do it. I think it helps with the suit stretch in the legs and helps connect it to the body. It's not locked straight of course. So maybe it does stay soft and round, like your hips, Phi.
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Old 12-17-2010, 05:36 PM   #16
David Orange
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post
Spear Training:
The purpose of this post is to explain how I've currently interpreted* the Aunkai spear training as a solo conditioning tool, and as a means of understanding how to use the lower body to off balance an opponent and increase the power of strikes. You will check your understanding via a chest push in the spear stance, and then ultimately with feet parallel.
Tim,

Not only highly informative, but nicely organized, written and presented, too. Having gone through this stuff with Ark, your post sheds a lot of light for me. Very nice explanations.

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post

Correction:
Previously, Rob John and I published a an article and web posts discussing the shintaijiku exercise.
You can see video of Akuzawa practicing the exercise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrzLp0o0oGk
We discussed splitting the body up into three axes: center, left and right. What we did not discuss (because we didn't clearly understand at that point) was that the psoas served to connect each axis of the body to the spine.
Very good point. My first response is that the psoas connects the outer axes to the spine at the bottom of the axes--and the shoulders connect the axes at the top: but you account for that later. Very encouraging.

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post
Static Spear Thrust.
Now that you have identified your psoas, it's time to use it in the spear thrust. You can use a typical 6 foot hardwood staff as your training implement. When you take the spear and sit down into the back leg to prepare the thrust, you should feel the psoas stretch in the front leg. Specifically, you should feel the psoas connecting the spine and the femur. The deeper you sit and the more you twist to be sidways, the more you should feel this.
Oh.

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post
Now, you will extend the spear forward. Push off the ground with the back leg, and allow your body to be twisted to face forward. Your pelvis will tilt forward-- this is functionally the same position that is held in the Aunkai stillness training. As you extend your arms in the spear thrust, and pivot to face the front, you will want to feel the psoas tighten on the back leg. Once you have fully extended the spear, you should feel the weigh of the spear actually stressing the psoas on the back leg, specifically toward the top of the femur. You will want to feel the back leg connect to the front hand, and the front leg connect to the back hand. You will want to lift the head and feel the tail bone pulling downwards, even at the full extended position. There is some other stuff going on with the cross (upper chest/shoulder girdle) as well but I'm going to leave that out for now. If you've been doing a lot of jujiko then you can play with that awareness during the thrust as well.
Rob wrote on my shoulder-relaxing thread that concentrating on the inner connections is more important. And this thread gives me something I can work that with. This is very useful detail and it brings back sharp memories of Ark doing these things, giving me a feeling that I'm seeing into the internal movement for the first time. You could do 100,000 of these spear thrusts and get a lot out of it.

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post
Have your partner resist you on the spear as you try to thrust it forward. At first just go force on force for a few reps and try to focus on pushing the back leg hard against the ground, and going force on force.

Then, have your partner give you a steady push on the spear. Try to manipulate the spear from left to right. As you do this, you will alternate which foot bears the incoming force, and , most importantly, towards which psoas you will rotate your pelvis, relative to your spine.
Great.

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post
If you perform this movement correctly, then you will slightly off balance your partner.....Getting the force out to the hands requires a fairly strong cross and this conditioning is accomplished via the standard Aunkai basics.
Great.

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post
You can also use this mechanic to drive a low roundhouse, cross, jab etc. That also requires articulating the shoulder girdle, which I have not covered in this post.
Yes, but when I read this, I picture Ark doing a low roundhouse and it makes perfect sense.

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post
The spearing mechanic incorporates what some people call dantian rotation. In that notation, the dantian is the concept of a giant ball in the lower abdomen. In that notation, the forward and backward tilt of the pelvis is conceding rotating the dantian back and forth. The rotation around the spine is considered horizontal rotation. However, as you can see from the instant post, you can train these things very directly via an anatomical perspective.
I'll bet it's a doozy for raking leaves, too! (I'll be doing a lot of that this weekend).

But I'm going out into the dark and cold right now to thrust a bo for a while.

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post
*If you want to know how Akuzawa does it exactly, I recommend you attend one of his overseas seminars or classes in Tokyo.
Can't agree more. Except seeing Ark, you can see how he does things, but posts like yours and Rob's are needed to understand how he does them.

Thanks.

David

"That which has no substance can enter where there is no room."
Lao Tzu

"Eternity forever!"

www.davidorangejr.com
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Old 12-17-2010, 07:12 PM   #17
David Orange
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post

Static Spear Thrust.
Now that you have identified your psoas, it's time to use it in the spear thrust. You can use a typical 6 foot hardwood staff as your training implement. When you take the spear and sit down into the back leg to prepare the thrust, you should feel the psoas stretch in the front leg. Specifically, you should feel the psoas connecting the spine and the femur. The deeper you sit and the more you twist to be sidways, the more you should feel this.
Just did a bunch of these and got a whole new light on it.

It's the same thing we did in Atlanta with Ark, pushing the other guy back with the bo. I've worked with Jang on this, some, too (not enough), and I've been able to push back some fairly big guys, but doing the same thing with awareness of the connections and the functions you've laid out adds another big dimension to it. It gives me a clue as to how Ark was able to shove me back so far with the same move, done explosively.

I've also done a bit of a kind of thrusting that Rob showed on a video on badongo, I think it was, where the rear arm rises up beside the head and you sort of thrust downward at the end...unless I badly misinterpreted what I thought I saw....the point of the spear doesn't spiral but just rotates as it thrusts forward, while the rear rotates through a big spiral. The important point being not so much the outer movement as the use of the psoas you describe in generating the outer movement.

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post
Now, you will extend the spear forward. Push off the ground with the back leg, and allow your body to be twisted to face forward. Your pelvis will tilt forward-- this is functionally the same position that is held in the Aunkai stillness training. As you extend your arms in the spear thrust, and pivot to face the front, you will want to feel the psoas tighten on the back leg. Once you have fully extended the spear, you should feel the weigh of the spear actually stressing the psoas on the back leg, specifically toward the top of the femur. You will want to feel the back leg connect to the front hand, and the front leg connect to the back hand. You will want to lift the head and feel the tail bone pulling downwards, even at the full extended position. There is some other stuff going on with the cross (upper chest/shoulder girdle) as well but I'm going to leave that out for now. If you've been doing a lot of jujiko then you can play with that awareness during the thrust as well.
That's a lot.

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Tim Fong wrote: View Post
You can try to feel like the entire back of your body, from your heels, up the hamstrings to the top of your head, is being stretched by the bo.
That jumped out pretty vividly--not so much a stretch, but awareness through the whole back as you describe. But at least my shoulders tended to stay very relaxed (221 relaxations counted, so far).

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Tim Fong wrote: View Post
Once you feel like you have hung out long enough, just retract the staff. You can do this by sitting down into your stance, and then allowing your torso to rotate as a result of your pelvis rotating back towards the rear leg. By rotation, I mean rotating with the spine as an axis. If the rear leg psoas is tightened by your thrust, then you will naturally twist back towards the leg anyways. As you twist back and retract the spear, you will tighten the psoas on the front leg again.
Very specific use of a very specific muscle for an exact function.

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Tim Fong wrote: View Post
...At first just go force on force for a few reps and try to focus on pushing the back leg hard against the ground, and going force on force.
So you're beginning with the back foot pushing the ground. As that moves up the leg, you then begin the psoas contraction? Or even as you're pushing the ground, from the first moment?

Will you come back with more on the shoulder girdle?

I think that, too, would be very helpful.

Thanks.

David

Last edited by David Orange : 12-17-2010 at 07:15 PM.

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Old 12-20-2010, 01:31 AM   #18
bernardkwan
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Quote:
Tim Fong wrote: View Post
Stills of the spear exercise:
http://budoshugyosha.over-blog.com/a...-60117698.html
Some of the French Aunkai people have put up a blog post, with pictures, of the spear thrusting exercise.
I just had some observations of the guy in the stills doing the spear exercise, I train Bagua and some Taiji in Hong Kong and my teacher also teaches Xingyi. I practice a lot of pole shaking.

His shoulders are lifted (creating a lot of tension) and his elbows are flared out to the side (not so good for empty hand as it leaves your elbows very vulnerable to being locked). I was taught to finish with the elbows down, and palms facing upwards. I don't train Aunkai but just to throw out there to discuss.
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Old 12-24-2010, 12:39 AM   #19
Tim Fong
 
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Hi David,
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David Orange wrote: View Post
Just did a bunch of these and got a whole new light on it.

I've also done a bit of a kind of thrusting that Rob showed on a video on badongo, I think it was, where the rear arm rises up beside the head and you sort of thrust downward at the end...unless I badly misinterpreted what I thought I saw....the point of the spear doesn't spiral but just rotates as it thrusts forward, while the rear rotates through a big spiral. The important point being not so much the outer movement as the use of the psoas you describe in generating the outer movement.
Right. I don't remember all the details of that video. But, I do work some spear thrusting where I raise the back end of the spear, more like what you see in a lot of northern Chinese systems. However I have held off on that for now because I'm trying to get a larger spear actually for that purpose.

Quote:
David Orange wrote:

Very specific use of a very specific muscle for an exact function.

So you're beginning with the back foot pushing the ground. As that moves up the leg, you then begin the psoas contraction? Or even as you're pushing the ground, from the first moment?
I hook up one of the psoases in tension at all times. So, before I even start the spear thrust, the psoas of the front leg is tensioned. When I walk around I try to feel that one side is always stretched.

Quote:
David Orange wrote:
Will you come back with more on the shoulder girdle?
Sure. For me a big thing recently has been gaining greater control over the trapezius. Do you ever do the Aunkai twisted shintaijiku? For a long time I had problems getting my arms to line up straight when I was rotating the torso and dropping into the cross-legged position. I figured out it was tightness of the trapezius which forced the shoulders up. Also, I have been working on articulating the sternum, clavicle and scapula. That system is also known as the shoulder girdle. All of that has to be mobilized and able to be felt individually. This becomes necessary because manipulating the clavicle and scapula orientation will change the relationship between the spine and the lower body.

Say you set up the psoas tension in the left leg, with the left leg forward in the spearing stance. Then, all things being equal, you can increase or decrease that tension by manipulating your shoulder girdle. Manipulating the shoulder girdle can cause you to twist the spine, i.e. the vertebrae will move around the spinal axis. Since the psoas is attached to the spine, then you will manipulate the tension of it when you do this.

I am pretty sure that this manipulation of the shoulder girdle is what is being done in some of the northern chinese styles when they talk about "drop the chest/arch the upper back). You can do it as one piece or manipulate each side independently. For me the shoulder relaxation came from boxing mitt work. I couldn't get anywhere with it until my shoulder girdle relaxed.

Glad you found the post informative.

Tim
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Old 12-24-2010, 09:20 AM   #20
David Orange
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Skipping straight to the end:

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Tim Fong wrote: View Post
...Glad you found the post informative.
Tim, this is a landmark thread that will go up alongside the Baseline Skills thread as an IT reference. But this one gets down to nuts and bolts, more--or gears and pivots?

It seems you're describing a system where the feet are "attached" to the ground and the spine is a relatively freely-pivoting shaft on top of the arch between the legs. And right there, you have a sort of double-reel mechanism (right and left psoas muscles) that by alternately tightening and loosening rotate the vertical shaft of the spine. Plus, this area can be tilted forward or back, creating the ability of the center to move circularly in a limited range (limited as long as the feet remain in place). And at the upper part of the vertical shaft, the cross-piece of the shoulder-girdle turns with the turning of the shaft, which is operated by the double psoas reel at the bottom of the shaft (at the top of the arch between the legs). So reeling the psoas of the forward leg turns the spine and brings the rear shoulder forward (in this case, causing the spear to move forward).

So you're talking about thrusting the spear by rotating the vertical shaft with about a 2" diameter. And the rest of the body is not so much pushing the thrust as it is supporting it. And the reason to focus on the lower end is that it's the part that's connected to something--the ground. The shoulder girdle and arms are not connected to anything. But the intention is to bring them into contact with something else and to penetrate or move that other thing. I think the difference in internal and external martial arts comes in right here: in external arts, the power to penetrate or move the "other thing" is in the muscles of the arms and legs. The whole body is involved, of course, and maybe turning or pushing with the hips. But that is very different from rotating the spine, itself, on top of the arch between the legs. In the best external arts, these things will be happening, but they will be incidental and not the driving factors. Internal arts, on the other hand, work somewhat backward to logic: instead of pushing off with the rear foot, you're pulling from the front psoas...

Of course, the feet are "pushing" through all this. All the parts move together and contribute to the cumulative effect on the thing to be penetrated or moved, but it's not the kind of coordinated, even chaining sequential efforts we normally think of for achieving work. So it's not an easy thing to look into, but with this thread, I think you've stepped up a magnitude in the IS world (at least the intellectual side of it, and I hear that your physical ability is more advanced than that).

But now, I have this concern: is that dual reeling of the psoas, for side-to-side turning of the center, combined with the forward and backward tilting of the pelvis, the main way of moving and "rotating" the dantian? Certainly, the turning of the vertical shaft seems exactly consistent with what I understood Dan to be showing. And I probably wouldn't have to be asking this now if I'd watched more of Mike Sigman's IS videos....but there are a lot of muscles in the abdomen and you can exert a lot of them in trying to "rotate" the dantian. And all that can be eliminated if "rotating" the dantian is as simple as that vertical spine rotation combined with tilting the pelvis. That becomes like the little gear at the center of a Rubik's Cube, allowing universal movement (when you add stepping). And when the feet are fixed in place, it allows you to pass the push of the feet into the torso. The trick then is to get that push and the support of the earth all the way out to the hands.

I did the spear thrust as you describe it several times concentrating on the counter-reeling of the psoas muscles before I felt I could turn my attention to the shoulder girdle. And then I realized I had been letting the cross fold inward as I pushed the spear forward: the rear shoulder was coming toward the forward shoulder. When I concentrated on keeping the cross, I felt that the whole spear thrust came from the rotation of the vertical spine and it wanted to draw me into a forward step as in shintaijiku, to continue the forward movement of the spear. But I've just been holding that position with the feet in the original positions and the spear (bo) at the full extension of the thrust. Then I feel that the front of the body is sort of supporting while the skin of the whole back of my body seems to be crawling up and forward. As I hold that position, I try to feel the whole back (pretty easy, the way it feels) and then I think about Bernard's comments about lowering the elbows, rotating them downward, and everything seems to flow out a little more toward the tip of the spear without taking my balance forward. I keep awareness of the pelvis tilting forward, the dropping of the tailbone, trying to feel the rear foot in the front hand and the front foot in the "pushing" hand. And I stand there for a while like that. I'll do that three or four times each, alternating left and right. And I do that three or four times a day, getting someone to push me whenever I can...

I also use a slightly shorter staff which is about twice as heavy as my bo, much of that weight being at one end. I thrust the heavy end out and and stand, feeling the connections. It's very exciting.

After I first started doing the shoulder relaxation thing (246 times, now) I started getting flashes of how Ark stands and how relaxed his shoulders are. But when I started doing these thrusting exercises and felt the activation of the whole back side of the body going up and out, I started understanding something else about the way Ark stands and moves. It does seem like his back (back of the heels, back of the calves, back of the knees, all the way up to the back of his head) is all lifting. Is this what has been referred to as "dragon back"?

Thanks very much. More later.

David

Last edited by David Orange : 12-24-2010 at 09:28 AM.

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Old 12-29-2010, 04:05 PM   #21
Mike Sigman
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

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Lorel Latorilla wrote: View Post
Hey David,

I suggest you ignore what's being said here and continue with the spear exercise and explore and research and not take people's words for it.

Lorel
Rather than let Lorel continue the insolence toward me, I'll let him direct it at Chen Xiaowang:

Quote:
Q: How do you use the dantian in applying force?

A: The dantian is the energy center of the body and requires coordination of the entire body. The force generated originates from the dantian and coordinates with the rest of the body, gains force.
Q: What are the mechanics of that?
A: Spiral force coordinated through the movement of the body. When the dantian turns, the body turns and pushes the hands. The dantian area is like the center of a circle.
Q: Elaborate on how the back and legs are coordinated with the dantian.
A: When the dantian begins moving, you connect the muscles of the legs and back to follow the dantian. Every part moves together, all connected. Then hand does not move by itself, the dantian pushes the hand. It's a 3 dimensional movement, using the whole body. The dantian, hip, knee, leg all coordinate, initiating in the spiraling through the body.
Q: The dantian by itself doesn't have force?
A: A small amount. The small force here pushes the rest of the body (muscle and bone).
Q: What is the connection between qi and martial usage?
A: Qi by itself is weak, soft. The dantian "communicates" to the muscle and bone. The dantian is the storage of all the qi. The jingluo directs the qi through the body. When qi is generated, it is communicated (wired like a bomb) through the body. You practice dantian to increase the communication to the rest of the body. It is very important to understand the relationship of dantian to qi, qi and muscle, muscle and bone. The correct movement is very important, to communicate to the muscle and bone. The main communication is between the dantian and muscle -- this is the essence of Taijiquan. Example: the dantian wiggles/moves when many do Taiji, but it moves by itself, and is not correct. When connected, the whole body can generate force.
I'm not going to expand or explain what CXW is saying since it's pretty clear to someone knowing what internal strength really is. Ask Akuzawa or Dan Harden to explain it and then post the gist of what they say here on this thread and compare it with Tim's recommendations. It could make for a productive discussion. Or simply let it go and not make a discussion of it; either way provides me with nothing I don't already know, but at least I made the offer.

FWIW

Mike Sigman
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Old 12-29-2010, 05:22 PM   #22
Lorel Latorilla
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

David,

Did you notice how in CXW's quote that he does not describe what the mechanics of the 'dantien' are at all and thus does not address the questions (about the anatomical properties of the dantien) I posted on the other thread? Of course the dantien needs to be developed so that it can better 'communicate' (bad use of words, btw--maybe the translation sucks?) with the 'muscles' and bones'..

My question in the other thread remains: how is the dantien developed, and which muscles--easily identifiable by body stretching (not the same as conditioning whole body connection and developing aiki skills btw)--are engaged to move 'it'?

Since I believe Tim is describing the process of conditioning the dantien (through the paradigm of spear training) in a more accurate (accurate in the sense that the concepts can help you single out muscle groups used to condition whole-body connection as opposed to comparatively uninformative visuals of an imaginary sphere in your 'middle'), anatomical nomenclature, I would like to know why he's off the mark--in other words, can you describe to me how Tim is doing it wrong and how to correct it, all in anatomical terms (since I can just do the research, look up the muscle groups that you will refer to, and do isolating exercises to help me identify and then continue with the whole-body conditioning stuff)? I address this to you David since it's difficult to get some people to answer your questions directly.

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Old 12-29-2010, 05:41 PM   #23
Mike Sigman
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

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Lorel Latorilla wrote: View Post
I address this to you David since it's difficult to get some people to answer your questions directly.
I don't need this. Good luck with your spear drills, guyz.

Mike Sigman
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:07 PM   #24
Lorel Latorilla
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

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Mike Sigman wrote: View Post
I don't need this. Good luck with your spear drills, guyz.

Mike Sigman
Thanks Mike. Exploring this stuff and researching this is all a great joy to all of us. Happy Holidays.

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Old 12-30-2010, 07:52 AM   #25
HL1978
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Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Tim,

How do you see powering the extension of the arm? I assume its more than just coodinating the extension with the movement of the psoas.
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