Energy

by Mat Beausoleil on 2011.12.30

Eventually, higher level students of Taijiquan come to realize that the power produced in practice should never be produced by the muscles. But if it isn’t produced in the muscles, where does the incredible strength, flexibility and speed of the great masters come from? I believe this question can be answered by understanding the amazing system of tendons and ligaments which connects the muscular and skeletal structures. Although many people like to believe that “qi” is the main source of energy which powers the body during Taijiquan, this can be an extremely misleading and impractical way of understanding the meaning of “internal” energy. The system of tendons and ligaments found throughout the human body is quite impressive in terms of how much pressure and tension it can withstand. The elastic property of tendons and their ability to act as springs allows them to store and recover energy at high efficiency. Because of this, I believe that continuous conditioning and strengthening of the tendons should be a primary focus of any internal martial arts student. Through correct training, the tendons and ligaments of the body can be reconditioned and transformed into very strong and highly flexible fibers. Because the training focuses on connecting these bungee cord-like bands, tremendous amounts of elastic energy can be produced and stored all throughout the body. This “elastic” energy produced can then travel through the matrix of tendons at lightning speed just like the sound waves of a cup phone can instantly travel down the tightened string into the opposite cup to produce clear sound. As we all know from our childhood experiences, if the string between the two cups is not tight enough or has any slack in it, the sound vibrations/energy will not travel through successfully. Similarly, if the tendons of the body are not properly tightened or connected, or there is slack in any part of the body, the energy will not travel there, thus diminishing the structural integrity and power produced. Because the reconditioning of the tendons tightens everything up, the different parts of the body start to take on the shape of arches or bows. If the body is actually connected, these bows, internally strung tightly to the spine by tendons, seem to be a perpetual source of power. How can these bows or arches produce energy? Just like a bow and arrow, when the string is pulled back and the arch of the bow is made smaller, the energy of the bow is condensed and stored in its center. When the string is released and the arch is elongated, the energy is released from the center and pushed out the ends. In the same way, when the arch in the arms is made smaller and the spiraling

When the arch of the arms is elongated and tightened by the stretch. Because every tendon from the upper and lower body connect at the dantian. the knees are pushed out and the bow in the legs is forced open. At the same time. The same process is true for the arches of the legs. So. Simply put. just like the bow and arrow. Great tension is built up throughout the legs. This tension is felt all throughout the right side of the body. storage and release to occur however. the tighter the tendons wind up and the more potential energy is created. Because the energy cannot escape through the feet into ground. nothing inside the body is really initiating the movements. Simultaneously. The energy issued is thus exponentially higher than the amount used to ‘wind up’ the practitioner. the left kua rotates. rotating the spine and torso to the right which propels the energy out through the arm. the energy produced by making the arch of the arm smaller is quickly rushed to the center of the matrix. This means that one action in a certain part of the body does not happen before another to produce a “result”. The energy released is therefore the sum of all the “elastic energy” from every spiraled bow in the body condensed and instantaneously released through a concentrated point. . Logically though. the energy cannot be released. twisting to the right and sending the energy to the center of the bow in the legs. not simply the arm. any tension put anywhere on the “connected” body will find its way to this area. For this process of energy production. the harder one pushes into the body. in the right sided positive circle. the energy center of the body.tightened by bringing in the elbow and rotating the waist. by shortening and elongating the bows. if the body is totally connected and everything happens together at the same time. the legs are also opening up. great energy and power is produced and stored. when the rear knee is pushed back even further. this separation of energies in the upper and lower sections of the body both meet in the dantian to produce tremendous torque and potential energy. it is imperative that the body be totally connected. pushes forward and releases the tension and energy of the legs upward. when the elbow is brought into the ribs and the waist is rotated. when an opponent pushes into a connected practitioner’s arm. the dantian. energy is also built up and stored. the tension of the twisted waist/dantian unwinds. For example. This could be compared to the winding up of a toy. As all the energy from the upper body is twisting to the left and sending its energy down to the dantian via the spine. If every tendon in the body is properly connected. Because each arch in the body is connected via the tendons. he is actually winding up and creating great tension on all of the bows found throughout the body. the energy is released from its center and sent rushing out to each extremity. the dantian. but because the feet are fixed to the ground and the bow cannot be elongated. the spiraled tendons and bow of the arm are made smaller and tightened.

a true point of origin cannot be determined. When practicing the form however. it is extremely beneficial to learn the applications of each posture. Imagining that the form is being carried out on an opponent helps reinforce each movement and gives the practitioner some understanding of the energy paths and proper alignments in the body. there is no external force to wind the body up and therefore a practitioner must use “intent” to simulate being powered up by an opponent. . This is why when a student reaches the level where he is able to complete the form while staying connected.Because everything happens simultaneously.

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