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Old 12-31-2010, 01:22 AM   #26
Tim Fong
Tim Fong's Avatar
Dojo: Aunkai
Location: California
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 181
Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Thanks for reminding me about the palm-up approach. I've been playing with that and it definitely emphasizes the front of the body more than palm down. Palm down seems to emphasize the back of the body more for me.

As far as the dantian rotation aspects, yeah, I tend to think about everything as a variant of either tilting the pelvis or the left/right turning of the pelvis. There may be more to it of course, but I work through things iteratively. This means I am wrong a lot, which is fine.

I actually had another version of my post where I prefaced it with "the exercise I describe is of course assumes you are practicing the rest of the Aunkai basics." This is because the skin-stretching feeling seems to only happen after some amount of fundamental training. Also, the feeling seems to get stronger over time with constant practice.

What this means physiologically is still up in the air. In the past I've thought that it was the result of the fascia contracting. However, looking at the research again, I see that it was done in vitro, and also the contraction took several hours. Experimentally (this is based on my reading of Robert Schleip's research), it looks like fascia does not really stretch without several hundred pounds of pressure. I wonder if instead of stretching what is actually happening is that the fascia is actually just moving, pulled by whichever muscle group is connected to it. I don't know.

Regarding dragon back: I have no idea, I'll have to ask Akuzawa the next time I see him.

I try to feel my skin stretch but of course, all the regular muscles in the chain are going to activate. Otherwise, how exactly is my arm going to move? There's been some physiology research that shows that muscles activate at levels where the user is not aware of the tension-- but it shows up via measurement tools.
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Old 12-31-2010, 10:49 AM   #27
David Orange
Dojo: Aozora Dojo
Location: Birmingham, AL
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,511
Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Tim Fong wrote: View Post
In the past I've thought that it was the result of the fascia contracting. However, looking at the research again, I see that it was done in vitro, and also the contraction took several hours. Experimentally (this is based on my reading of Robert Schleip's research), it looks like fascia does not really stretch without several hundred pounds of pressure. I wonder if instead of stretching what is actually happening is that the fascia is actually just moving, pulled by whichever muscle group is connected to it. I don't know.
I believe that the key to the fascia is the human emotions. I think your entire fascial structure can seize up as tight as a rock in a single instant with the right emotional charge. And it can all melt like butter in a single breath when the right feeling enters the mind.

I base this on lots of Feldenkrais work, which means paying microscopic attention to what happens within my body. It took me a long time even to recognize that some of what I experienced in Feldenkrais was not muscle relaxation but fascial relaxation.

Feldenkrais ties almost everything to the fight-or-flight response in human beings. The right kind of stimulus, such as realizing that you're locked in a tiger enclosure and the tiger is very nearby, can instantly freeze up the whole body to the point of rigidity. On the other hand, people experiencing great relief often literally collapse as their whole bodies go limp.

From this basic response (seizing or releasing), with breath direction and mental conditioning, we can get a lot of control over the emotions and how much they affect the fascial body. I think that's why keeping calm is emphasized so much in internal arts like tai chi but also in hard external types of karate. While sudden, frightened tensing up of the fascia can bend the body forward, pretty much all martial martial arts teach one to keep calm and maintain upright posture.

Last, I've read some references to the fascia being the pathway for the qi flow in the body and it seems that clenched up fascia would be a detriment to qi movement. Also, the purpose of the qi is to activate the muscles that need to be activated, and clenched fascia would definitely limit muscle movement, too.

So I think that calm mind and soft body are the result of keeping the emotional state within a good range through a combination of mental framing of situations (positive attitude, etc.) and taking action early on to resolve, eliminate or stay out of situations that could become highly stressful (which corrective actions I think of as bu, as in budo). So you try to stay out of bad situations in general, and you maintain mental state as the most important element in handling situations that are less than ideal...

Then the body remains undistorted by excess tension of either muscles or fascia and one's feelings (kokoro, I think) can be expressed freely.

A bit off topic, but I hope it's not too far off.

It would be good to know more about the dragon back. Of course, at this point, it's like reading about turbo-charged hemi parts when I'm driving an old Corvair...but when I do the spear-thrusting as you describe, I do feel a very crawly sensation from my heels to my head when I stand with the "spear" extended. It's like a giant toupee is trying to crawl up my back and out to the end of the spear...

Best to you and Happy New Year to all!


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

"Eternity forever!"

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Old 12-31-2010, 12:44 PM   #28
Dojo: Mushin Mugamae, Manchester, NH
Location: Manchester, NH
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 1
Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

From a bodywork perspective, the fascia is made up of several different elements, each which responds to differing levels of force and durations of tension. There's also a piezo electric attribute to fascia that would seem to transmit information faster than standard nerve impulses. I've wondered a bit whether the "skin-stretching" feeling that's described in these discussions has something to do with this.

Steve Baroody, D.C., ART
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Old 01-03-2011, 02:05 PM   #29
thisisnotreal's Avatar
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 694
Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

myofascial psoas stretch (as per the ming method)

brutal psoas stretch heh. (' just pin that sucker down ")
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Old 01-04-2011, 09:06 PM   #30
Dojo: Aunkai
Location: Fairfax, VA
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 429
Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Hunter Lonsberry wrote: View Post

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.
I guess I will respond to my own post, and perhaps some people with more experience can chime in and correct me. This is how I currently understand how this exercise should be preformed, and not the official Aunkai explanation.

Upper body

The arm should extend forwards much along the same way as in the Aunkai agete and pushout exercises. Now while one could pop someone back easily in those exercises by developing a lot of shoulder muscles and lower back strength or by leaning into their opponent and likewise apply that same strength to power the extension, you could hardly call that "internal power."

Now when I say extending the arm like in agete/pushout I am referring to the following. The shoulders should not rise, but instead stay dropped. If the shoulders rise up, they get isolated and start engaging. The elbows should be pulled downwards, but with the feeling as though they are rested on a table and "pushing off of" the table. Now what this will lead to is a very big arc/large range of motion as the arm extends outwards. That is to say the spear will sort of drop downwards as it goes forwards and is raised up much like as if you swung a weight on a string. Simply bending the arm upwards to initiate the motion engages the biceps, while moving in this manner seems to keep the weight of the spear as part of the body rather than something being lifted by the body in isolation. The same above description applies to agete and pushout, with pushout in particular looking more like this sort of extension.That is to say if the arm extends outwards in a straight line from its starting point, it is not correct.

For a dantien driven model, I honestly have no idea how you can utilize the dantien to extend an arm forwards. This does not mean that it can't be done, but merely that my level of understanding does not permit me to definitively say wether it can or can not be done and if so, how one goes about doing it. I do know that the extended arm should be rotated, but I am fairly confidient that it is NOT the arm itself which should be the initatior of the rotation.

lower body

Now I did this exercise wrong on so many levels, but after attending a seminar with Forrest Chang I think I have a slightly better understanding of what you should be doing.

When one watches this exercise they will see the rear leg rotating as the bodyweight transits from back to front. What I was doing wrong was I was merely rotating that rear leg in coodination with the weight shift while pushing off the rear foot. What I do instead is that I pull myself forwards with the forwards leg and close the forwards side hip. I assume this is powered by the psoas muscles referenced above as I feel the inner thigh and hip area muscles engaging. At the same time, rather than pushing off the rear foot and rotating it, that hip area does the opposite of the forwards side and opens up. The result is that this closing on one side and opening on the other turns my upper body and leg. Thus the rotation propagates from the middle of the body on out, rather than the limbs turning the middle of the body.



Now the above description is still a muscle based method of moving the body, just using the muscles in a different manner than how I originally preformed the exercise. It feels stronger, but I can not say for sure if this is how the exercise should be correctly preformed. It just seems slightly more correct with better coodination than my previous approach. As my experience increases I am sure I will see this exercise differently.
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Old 01-05-2011, 11:50 AM   #31
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Dojo: Taikyoku Budo & Kiko - NY, PA, MD
Location: Greater Philadelphia Area
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 998
Re: Spear Training for Internal Power

Guys, the basic idea is that you condition the hell out of your legs and middle (lower back, hips, gluts, abs) with the "right" kinds of exercises (i.e. you're not just building muscle strength, but relaxed connected power) while at the same time reducing your reliance on your arms/shoulders as power initiators and connect them so they can better deliver the power generated from your lower half.

The trick is to do just enough with the spear that you are conditionig the "right" things while not doing anything that will reinforce wrong or incorrect habits of moving (e.g. overreliance on shoulders/arms as drivers).
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