Friday, September 7, 2012

Doing gym without going to the gym

One interesting thing about tai-chi, Yi-chuen and other internal martial art is that power training can be done without using any equipment.  Power training is the key to any athletic discipline and martial art being included.  One may wonder: how can slow moving exercises replace weight lifting?  Where does the resistance come from?  The simple answer is: it comes from within our body, that's why it is called internal martial art.

The easiest way for a practitioner to experience this internal resistance is the practice of "Feeling or touching Jing 摸勁" in Wang Xian Zai's system of Yi-Chuen or DaZhengChuan.  It begins with standing on combat stance which essentially is standard zhan zhuang with body at more less or 45 degree and front/back leg taking more or less 40/50% of body weight.  One stands like this with stretched hands (and slightly stretched toes also for better results) with relaxed mind and body (in particular one's shoulder joints).  In a state being conceptualized as "points stretched, body relaxed 點緊身松".  With one's mind totally focused on one's body, one begins minute or nano (i.e. almost unnoticeable) movements.  How to feel or touch?  With a focused mind, one tries to feel the resistance at one shoulder joints.

Here is the trick.  When a person moves his hand/arm forward (like pushing) or upward (like lifting weight), he will use only his hand when the weight is small.  He will engage his forearm when the weight is bigger. He will also engage his upper arm, then his shoulder blade, then his thigh muscles when the weight gets bigger and bigger.  And if he can properly connect his thigh muscles, back muscles, his upper arm muscles, he can lift the heaviest weight.

Here is the technique.  With a totally focused mind (and with "points stretched, body relaxed"), one engages the movement of his upper arm only, while seeking (therefore the concept of feeling/touching  摸) the point of maximum resistance around the shoulder joints.  Once such point being found, further minute movements will work against such resistance.  And with more focused practice (i.e. more than one session!), one can engage more and more of one's body parts, with the ultimate (theoretically achievable) target towards engaging all of one's body joints and muscles (muscles as one 肌肉如一), as Bruce Lee did his famous inch-punch.

Needless to say, the above is an advanced level practice of internal martial art.  Different systems, like tai-chi, offer different methods, though the basic philosophy or logic remains the same. 

Wang's single leg combat stance

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