Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Force Training- Conditioning Exercises

"Hard" styles of martial arts like Karate and Muay Thai are known to condition the body's weapons by striking wooden poles, punching bags and the "makiwara"(a striking post with a thick rope, straw mat or cushion stuffed with sand attached to it). These methods are effective in conditioning the palms, fists and feet. These exercises harden the bones of the impact area.

The muscles of the torso can also be toughened by repeated punching and striking. I just want to state that patience is necessary and that the object is to see how hard you can be hit without injury. Simply injuring yourself from the start serves no purpose. The object is rather to use your mind to strengthen your body.

A simple experiment will illustrate the principle that applies here:

When you are able to channel your qi, summon your qi to flow through your entire body. Feel your stomach's muscles become hard like steel. Now- maintaining this feeling of power- punch yourself in the stomach. This principle is used in breaking boards, bricks and tiles as well. It is also the same mental process that enables a person to walk over a bed of burning coals.

Wen Hsiu Quan's conditioning exercises are based on the above principle.

In this post I offer two very effective toughening exercises. Other exercises mey be derived from these two.

a) For powerful kicking: Stomping the ground.

Stand in a horseriding stance. Now, shifting your weight onto one leg straighten the supporting leg while enhaling rising into a crane stance. The raised leg's knee is raised with the calf hanging loose.
Exhaling and sinking the chi into the raised foot's heel, shoot the heel into the ground as you drop into the horse stance once again. Repeat with the other leg. This exercise does not only toughen the heel, but also the bones of the leg.

b) Developing Tiger Claws: Carrying Urns.

Okinawan Karateka have the benefit of "mi-ichi" or "strength stones" which are gripped with the fingertips to develop this type of strength. The closest substitute I have been able to find here in South Africa is the large 2 to 5 litre jars used to store USN's nutritional supplements. USN's products are intended to help bodybuilders gain the nutrients necessary to build muscle. I would like to personally thank them for providing martial artists with the containers, though. When filled with sand, these jars can be picked up and carried by the mouths thereof to develop a strong grip and strong fingertips. Using the wrists to swing the containers in circles also strengthen the wrists.

Wen Hsiu Quan's guiding principle in conditioning exercises is that a calm and fearless mind be maintained throughout exercises that cause the body pain or discomfort. As soon as the amount of pain or discomfort is too high for one to maintain a calm mind the amount of pain and discomfort should be reduced and increased again over time as one's toughness increases.

Next post will deal with tests of force and signs of good force.    


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