A ring of power

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
Tolkien – 1954 – The Lord of the Rings

It is silly to think we can control our movements by just using one virtual ring in the body. Our physical behaviour is more complex than 1 body ring.
Nevertheles we can use the image of 1 ring in the upperbody to understand the mechanism of power generation in the arms. Of course this is just one part of the body.

Manipulating kyokotsu, pushing out and pulling in, generates power in the arms produced by stretching and contracting back muscles steered by the inconscious mind.
By moving Kyokotsu, koshi will also move. Drilling the legs and feet will rebound the power from earth in the arms.
Drilling will be discussed in another post.

Inner and outer circle form a ring of power

In a previous post, we spoke about “opposing isometric forces“.

This concept can be introduced in a form of “Toshu Randori”. In this case we grasp each other elbows and creates a ring of power . Each one has his own ring of power, the skill is to merge with opponent’s ring of power and keeping the initiative.
As a first step we can start to move around, using different Unsoku-ho.
Of course we will detect very soon a major problem: How to create a ring of power?

Yiquan

How to create a ring of power?

To answer this question we must understand the different modes of tension.

  • Contraction of muscles.
  • Dropping the bodyweight to create a line of tension
  • Direct your mind into a body part
  • Other modes…..

The first mode will be used in most of the cases during our daily life.
To create a ring of power by contraction is not a solution during training because the muscles of our arms have limitations if used to stabilze our posture or to cope with an attack from opponent.
But we are looking for a more efficient multifuncional application in our activities especially during training martial arts.

Postural & phasic muscles

Postural muscles act predominantly to keep your posture in the gravity field. These muscles contain mostly slow-twitch muscle fibres and have a greater capacity for longterm activity.
Phasic muscles contain mostly fast-twitch muscle fibres, and are therefore more suited to movement. They are more easily fatigable.

The muscles we use to move around are “fast twitch” or phasic muscles. The other type of muscles (slow twitch) is what are called “stabilizing” or postural muscles, are involuntary and react against force, primaly gravity without intervention of our conscious mind.
Unfortunately we are reinforcing our structure with contraction or pulling phasic muscles.
We need those fast twitch muscles for our movements during training and randori. By contracting or pulling the benefit of fast twitch will be gone. Our movements become rigid and predictable.

Why are we using fast twitch muscles as postural muscles?
When our balace is not correct, postural muscles have to do a lot of work and sometimes they need support, mostly from fast twitch muscles. By doing this on a regular base, a wrong pattern is created into the brain. We have to overwrite this pattern.

Postural training, a key to efficient movement

When you make any movement, before the movement begins there is a short delay during which your lumbar spine using deep abdominal postural muscles. The delay produced by stabilization of your lumbar spine makes you slower. This does not matter very much for slow movements. There is a way to eliminate or at least minimize this delay by holding your body in a posture where your postural muscles are already engaged.
Every martial arts require a certain efficiency of movement that can be increased through the strengthening of postural muscle, and freeing phasic muscle from performing a postural role.
Postural training can be a solution for efficient use of postural muscles by keeping the whole body in the gravity field.
Although a lot of people are refering to “shizentai” or natural boy as an important principle in our training, often we see a fight of muscle power in randori. There is no shizentai in their performance.

Ritsuzen or standing meditation is a perfect exercise to understand “Shizentai

Dropping the bodyweight to create a line of tension

Creating a line of tension by dropping the bodyweight is a matter of dropping the groins or mata down and keeping the bodystructure.

Dropping the bodyweight has nothing to do with bending the knees. Of course, the perception gives an image of bending the knees.

When our posture is correct, the line of gravity falls into the gravitational field marked by the 2 feet.
Top of the head, shoulder-line, tanden and back of the knees are on this vertical line. All the bodyweight rest in the feet.

Bodyweight in the feet has a direct relationship with the knees. The vertical line from the knee to the foot cannot pass the line of the toes. Although there is also a possibility to bring the knee more forward and will pass the toes.
When we can feelthe bodywiegt in the feet by pushing down on the knees, keep the back also straight.
Testing the bodystructure when dropping the bodyweight into the groins or mata will reinforce the structure.

This skill can be used when performing sumi otoshi and putting knees on the floor. By directing the power from koshi & mata into the back of the front foot, there will be lesser stress on the knee.

Direct the mind into a body part – projection Ki

Ki is a multi-purpose term for many bodily processes, functions, and energy that may not have been scientifically researched at the time various martial arts were developed.
Nowadays we understand much better the function of “Ki” but we have no word for this multi-purpose process.

Because we seek to create a ring of power, our mind can use an image of a ring which can be inflated or deflated. Tension can be going outward and inward. We can define this tension as “pressure” or directing Ki (on of the processes for this multi-purpose term).
There is no contraction of muscles. There is pressure in the muscles and tendons. There is a feeling of lenght and stretching in the muscles and tendons.

By imaging we can control body processes. NLP or neuro-linguistic programming is a popular Western imaging method .
Of course we don’t need to become an expert in NLP.
During postural training, the skill of imaging can be learned and used in an efficient way to start feeling the flow of Ki (bodily processes) in our body and eventually steering in the right direction.

About shobukaidojo

A passion for Martial Arts since 1964

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