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Training Tip #1

The components of Relaxing

by Mike Sigman

The "internal" martial arts stress relaxation in their directives for achieving the "internal strength" which is the differentiating factor of these martial sets. There are valid reasons for this relaxing, sometimes referred to as "sung".

[standing paths]

  1. The mechanical efficiencies of peng and connection in the internal arts are dependent upon the optimum joint angles which transmit force with the least muscular effort. Training with the least strength compels the use of optimally efficient angles (if you look for results).
  2. In order to re-coordinate the body (repattern the muscle use) as a unit, the employment of isolated musculature (i.e., not relaxed local musculature) is deleterious.
  3. The practice of the internal arts is incomplete without adequate knowledge and practice of light-to-moderate motion using the "mind intent" to direct peng and connection through a very relaxed body. Any stiffness will hinder this necessary and differentiating ingredient which is the core of "internal strength." (To be covered in a later issue.)

Relaxation, or sung, does not imply limpness, or even no-strength. For instance, just in holding normal stances beginners are heard to howl after short time spans… more advanced students, whose leg strength has grown to accommodate their stances, stand relaxedly and claim that they are relaxed… but their legs are stronger. Even more advanced students, who have developed not only leg strength, but also a skill in the use of body angles, will find that their joints (the sinews) have become the load bearers, and the need for muscle tonus declines. True relaxation follows this line of development.

Leg strength is a necessity. The more load-bearing ability in the legs, the less strength is needed and used in the upper torso and arms.

The first step is to understand peng, connection, and the use of angles… in your practice. People who use stiff strength and hope to append discussions of relaxation to their practice will not accomplish much. The body truly has to be relaxed.

Places to go from here:

bulletTable of Contents for this issue
bulletPeng Article Index

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Page maintained by Ian Young; last change June 11, 2000.