Don’t Collapse:

Don’t let your body collapse when you practice martial arts.

Most people understand this concept, but forget to apply it.

My teacher always told me to “Extend more,” which at the time I didn’t understand.

Extending the body in Internal Arts practice is how we maintain dynamic strength in each posture,

It is also how we become more flexible.

Most Northern Chinese Martial Arts Styles Have Long Postures:

Tai Chi, Xingyi, and Bagua mostly use long postures and although there are exceptions to the rule, long posture is more common than not.

These long postures are not “on-guard” stances, but instead are how we practice “Nei Gong,”¬† the Internal Work of the Internal Arts.

Everyone knows that smooth power and explosive power are important elements of practice, but what about extending power?

Open and Close!

Internal Arts are based on the dual concept of “Kai He,” Open and Close.

In order to have strength you must have full range of motion.

Closing is when the body contracts, opening is when the body extends.

Many Internal Artists forget that  full range of motion is the key to Internal Power, so they do not extend enough on opening.

They also forget that closing does not mean collapsing.

Refer to the Dao De Jing:

The Dao De Jing says “The Partial is the prerequisite of the whole.”

The Taiji Classic Says “The Bent is the Prerequisite of the Straight,”

So even when extended fully, the elbow must be slightly bent and the shoulder must be open and round.

Even when withdrawn fully, you mustn’t allow your body to collapse.

This is how you can maintain circular power, flexible strength, and the ability to derive power from small movements.

If you get this, your practice will improve dramatically.

Remember, this applies to the whole body.

This is not just a matter of the elbows and shoulders, it applies to the knees, neck, head, back, waist, abdomen and all other parts of the body.

It is easiest to learn in the legs and arms first, but eventually it should be a natural principle of movement in your whole body.

This has martial applications.

The principles of the Internal Arts are not just about health and wellbeing, they are also for self defense.

If you can open and close without overextending or collapsing, you will be stronger, have longer range, and be harder to follow.

Eventually if you practice assiduously, you may even begin to feel your tendon meridians opening and enter the “changing the sinews” stage of practice.

A qualified teacher can show you how.

Talk to your teacher, ask them about opening and closing, extension and contraction.

Over time work on mastering these things so they aren’t just words anymore.

When you really have them in your body you will be strong, flexible, and difficult to beat.

Isn’t that the goal of all Martial Artists?