Thursday, November 30, 2006

Total Body Power

Traditionally, one practices Jing, or power by practicing hitting things. Hitting things in different ways builds different kinds of Jing. You might hit a heavy bag to build muscle Jing, you might practice a one-inch punch to develop your short-range Jing, or you might practice sharp contact pushes in push hands to develop Fa-Jing. While these exercises are pretty good for training how to extert and acellerate different parts of your body in an attack, they don't always teach body unity very well.
I heard of an interesting technique for increasing punching power through body unity this week. Go to a gym with a heavy bag. Instead of trying to punch the bag as hard as you can or trying to fold the bag, Push the bag away from your with a nice, big shove. When the bag swings back toward you, punch at it with the objective of stopping it dead when it hits your fist. It shouldn't roll off, it shouldn't bounce away, it should just stop. You in turn should not be pushed back, knocked off balance, or twisted or crumpled by the impact of the bag on your fist.
The theory of this practice technique is that it will teach you to use your whole body to brace your punch. By striking the heavy bag in the traditional way, you learn how to accellerate your punch and perhaps sink in your weight, but you might miss out on the benefit of unifying your body behind your punch. By letting the bag hit your fist and by aiming to completely meet and dissipate it's energy through your own superior body structure, you learn to involve your stance, your geometry, and your core muscles behind your punch.
Now imagine if you could do that same in your swordsmanship? Get a wooden sword, chop down the point so that it's blunt and won't puncture your bag, and try the same thing. Now you may begin building the power to pierce hard targets such as armor!