In the literature of internal arts, we read about concepts like Dantian, controlled breathing, muscles-as-one, punch absorption, navel gazing, peng-jing etc. The above seem to be different concepts, yet they are all related to one important organ of our body, our diaphragm, the strongest muscle in our torso, if not in our whole body. There are different techniques to work with the above concepts. Yet, the conditioning of our diaphragm helps all to become operational.
Take an example, Dantian. In tai chi the working concepts of Dantian are Dantian roll (丹田内轉）and Chi-sunk-to-Dantian (氣沉丹田). These two concepts maintain that the power source is at our Dantian. What is Dantian? Dantian is the imaginary point a few inches behind (or below) our belly button. It is a point among our large intestine. A point of void. How can a void point be the source of power. Yet, generations of practitioners felt that it is where their power came from! The key word is felt. Dantian roll and Chi-sunk-to-Dantian are understandable power source concept if we adhere to the assertion that they are internally-sensed empirical concepts, rather than physical concepts.
A question more relevant to students of internal arts: How can such power source be trained? If we want to train our biceps, we grab a dumb-bell and repeatedly lift it up through contracting the muscles in our biceps. It is simple. Training Dantian is more problematic: it is not even a physical part of our body! The answer is we don't train our Dantian, we train our diaphragm. After we have trained our diaphragm, the key to activating power in our trained diaphragm is a point in the center of our belly, a point a few inches behind (or below) our belly button. The point that we call Dantian.
"How to train our diaphragm" is a question that I shall tackle for some future posts. Stay tuned.