Power Generation In The Internal Arts

One distinguishing characteristic of the internal martial arts is their approach to power generation, although many of the techniques studied are present in one form or another. The Neijia stand out in that much of their focus that they consciously strive to generate power through practiced execution of refined physical techniques instead of reliance on raw muscular force.

### Use of the ground
One of the simplest ways to generate power is by pushing off of the ground with the legs while (essentially) stiffening the arm you wish to extend the force through.

From a static analysis point of view, this is nearly identical to the classic stiff arm/straight arm/”don’t bother” maneuver found in American football and rugby.

In this technique, the player isn’t punching and they aren’t exercising a tremendous amount of localized strength. They are instead using their own skeletal frame and tendons to form a rigid structure that channels the incoming player’s momentum through the outstretched arm and into the ground. To the attacker, this is like crashing into a brick wall.

In this application, the attacker’s momentum is used against them. But by learning to close the joints of the legs, hips, and arms and rapidly expanding them, a skilled practitioner can use the ground in the same way to generate power in their techniques. No upper body strength is used, but the same extensive power is pushed off the the ground and into (or if you’re nice, through) the opponent’s body.

Here’s one of my favorite clips of someone using the ground to throw their students around. Some of the students appear to be “helping” (bouncing or skipping excessively in sympathy with the movement – this is the martial art student’s way of being a suck up) but a much of the student tossing is genuine.

If you watch closely you can see the ripple of power going up through the instructor’s legs and torso and out through his arms and hands.

Out of time. More later!


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