Thursday, November 29, 2012

Physical Arts: Superior Results

As you watch our Physical Arts System its logic is readily visible and is often captured, but not always consciously.  Often times while watching the performed exercises or movements people are distracted by the powerful breathing they hear coming from Calasanz and cannot get past it.  These are simple minded people without imagination who do not recognize the simple beauty and logical effectiveness of the movements themselves.  Notice the movements.  Notice their fluidity.  Notice their synchronicity.  Notice the flexibility.  Notice the ability.  Look at the anatomical correctness and the perfect balance and control of the entire body necessary, from start to finish, to perform them correctly and perfectly.  The body is completely in synch with itself throughout the exercises as should the breathing be to boot. 

Take a look at this video for example.  The entire body goes into each movement starting from a neutral but active position.  Then each movement goes into a structurally sound stance with the legs and extends the arms fully from the inside out to maximize gains and to keep the focus of the exercise centralized on the core to increase true power and results.

Listen now, young grasshopper, and read as we explicate why this is important and superior to traditional weights exercises and machines.

First and foremost, all exercises within the system the core is activated, this generates and develops true power which will radiate to the rest of your body through natural pathways.  Second, by entering into a wider horse stance you are engaging the lower body into the movement to work the legs.  This stance change works an individual's coordination and gets the upper and lower body working together in-synch to generate more power and maximize energy use and efficiency.  Also, while different movements go in different directions each movement on its own requires the entire body to participate and gets everything working together to perform the movement instead of isolating a single muscle or muscle group to the benefit of one small particularity. 

Physical Arts is what makes our system unique and what puts us a step up from any other workout program out there.  The martial arts background of the system makes sure that the movements are efficient, effective, productive, and useful towards improving strength AND flexibility at the same time.  The movements can even be perceived as fighting techniques with weighted resistance, so even in performing the lifts and exercises you are not only developing strength and flexibility, but also perfecting an anatomically strong and proper punch or kick.

Within the Physical Arts system the importance of breath synchronization along with the body movements is emphasized.  If you perform these exercises and do not release the breath they are not being performed correctly.  In the realm of yoga breathing properly is more important than the asanas (poses) themselves.  In fact someone simply sitting in a chair with good posture and breathing properly is practicing better than one who is going through the poses without conscious awareness and control of their breath.  Breathe deeply into the lower abdomen and allow the lungs to fill from the bottom up; it will greatly increase the oxygen input to the blood stream to produce greater results and increased focus.  Release the breath naturally, do not fight to hold the breath or strain by holding onto an air column.  If the breath does not feel natural it is not in synch with the movement or with the body.

The Physical Arts System is designed to get all components of the body working together.  This is not something that comes quickly and takes time and practice to develop; but now with a bit of explication the learning curve is exponentially improved if you put the information into practice and experientially witness it and develop yourself.

Inspired by Calasanz
Written by Alan Wedell

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wing Chun discourse on HARD and SOFT Energies

Inspired by Calasanz

Today we will explore the concepts of being both soft and hard within martial arts.

A great deal of people have heard of the technique of being soft and then becoming hard just at the point of impact. To be perfectly clear the technique involves being loose through most of the motion and then tensing the muscles just as contact is made, just as the punch lands.  Followed there after by an immediate relaxing of the tension within so as not to be 'frozen' by the flexing of your muscles. It is important to note, however, that it takes a dedicated amount of time and training in order to execute this technique successfully. It is an acquired technique.  Acquired meaning its not something an amateur can learn in an afternoon.  As Bruce Lee exploded into cinema and onto the silver screen everyone wanted to learn things like the 'touch of death', soft and hard applications in a real environment, among other advanced techniques. They assumed that these were things that could be transmitted to the desiring pupil in a few short minutes if the teacher was worth his weight in salt.  

So, many people would ask instructors, “Can you demonstrate the death touch just like Bruce Lee?” and the instructors that were real martial artists would say that they have not practiced that technique yet, or that they had not yet attained that level. Others would respond in the affirmative and attempt to demonstrate the technique even if it meant permanent embarrassment.  Many amateurs would get hurt attempting to train these advanced techniques without the knowledge or experience to be aware of what they were actually doing. They would end up hurting themselves and quitting or find out just how much training is necessary to attain the skill they see in films and pulled back from accomplishing these martial arts achievements.  It is often forgotten that Bruce Lee did not spend his time watching Bruce Lee movies to achieve his level of skill, he trained year, after year, after year to attain his talents and abilities.

It takes time to learn the difference between soft and hard. Perhaps we can help to expedite the process through word. Soft does not mean floppy and limp; it is better described as present. Hardness is almost equivocal to tension.

For example, one can have a closed hand up by the face in a ready fighting stance. The hand is in front of the face ready to strike, it is present. This is soft. Hard would mean that the hand in the same position is gripping and clenched tightly as if life depended on it. Having a hard hand here would only hinder the muscles' flexibility, as well as the mobility of the muscles around it (such as the forearm, elbow and even up to the shoulder) and limit its reactive capabilities through the radiating nature of the flex. (Also, keep in mind if the hard hand his knocked back into you, you will essentially be injuring your own hand with your own head.)

Sometimes it takes longer for someone even just to understand how to be soft and relaxed. Many people come into a martial arts academy or school full of tension without even knowing it. Common among newer martial arts students, it is thought that to execute a technique with speed and power is the measure of skill when in reality it is the person who executes with greater control and precision that truly knows what he is doing and why he is training.

While fast, strong movements are appealing to the eye , they are meaningless without true control. Better to practice a punch perfectly 10 times and take 1 minute for each punch than to do 10 sloppy punches in 1 second.  

With control comes power, with accuracy comes speed.  Speed is always available to the user, but keep in mind it is to be able to utilize this speed with precision that is going to finish the fight.  To be fast and erratic is one of the easiest ways to get countered and knocked the ***k out.

Thinking of softness like a net, or a cloth, it is capable of reacting, catching and flowing, yet still must maintain its structure without collapsing. Hardness is like a piece of metal in its solid state. It will absorb and take damage, but is apt to dent or simply break altogether. 

This is why one is never more important than the other.  It is the interplay; the ability to adapt between the two, and the wisdom of knowing what is more suitable and when that denotes a true master.

 Written by: Alan Wedell