Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Re: Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Postby Bhassler on Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:05 am

rojcewiczj wrote:When I say arm, I mean the limbs which stick out from the torso. When I say Shoulder I mean all that remains within the form of the torso. You have to be able to move your arms without moving your shoulders in order to retain the structural integrity of the arms in relation to the shoulder. Why many people will never have full potential of transferring their whole body mass through contact is because they try to move the shoulder into the structure of the arm, feeling that the arm is too weak without the shoulder. In fact, when you can isolate your arm from your shoulder, you gain the whole body with which to transfer mass through your arm; your shoulder takes on a new role as a part of the torso not as part of the arm.


That is clearer, thank you. I actually disagree, as I think there are lots of small adjustments and micro-movements that need to happen in order for force to transmit clearly between arms and torso (or torso and arms). The scapulae and clavicles need to be able to move freely and articulate with the ribs in order to conform with the shape of the torso and external forces. So the shoulders are not necessarily generating/adding force, but they definitely play a role in directing force, and that requires movement (though not necessarily tension).

If you're talking about imagery, then what you're saying makes a lot of sense, but in terms of literal movement instruction, it's a recipe for disaster (or at least discomfort).
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Re: Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Postby windwalker on Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:13 am

Bhassler wrote:
windwalker wrote:

By "enaging the shoulder" I assume you mean the muscles of the shoulder girdle. Allowing movement/energy to pass through without engaging muscles is not the same as not moving. There is a ton of shoulder movement in the clip -- it's quite lovely, really, and pretty much the opposite of inhibiting the movement of the shoulders in any way, shape or form.


Yes there is which is why I mentioned it. As you've outline the shoulders must be freed in order for the energy to be transmitted.



Also as you've pointed out it's very counterintuitive allowing the energy to flow without a direct feedback to feel it which most people would measure as tension or conscience engagement of the shoulder.

It's not a very easy process takes time with a teacher that can show and demonstrate it.

If one looks up what is called a "moment" it might help to explain the alignment process a little more clearly.
Last edited by windwalker on Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:12 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Postby rojcewiczj on Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:21 am

All the micro-movements of the scapula, rib cage, etc., do not cause substantial effects externally and are generally facilitating the free movement of the arms. In my experience, focusing on such movements can result in a lot of wiggling without arriving at effective actions. While, if one focuses on the free movement of the arms, and the free movement of the body as two separate and essential groupings, one can begin to create effective actions. For instance, one can punch with an arm which is fast and free and adjustable, and then support that arm with a body which is unified and balanced.
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Re: Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Postby wayne hansen on Wed Sep 06, 2017 11:35 am

Over 30 years ago I had a student who got in a street fight
He knocked the other guy over and used Huangs no.4 exercise to finish the fight
He couldn't believe how well it worked
I would never have thought its application was that direct
Don't put power into the form let it naturally arise from the form
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Re: Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Postby willie on Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:00 pm

rojcewiczj wrote:I have a body and arms, I have no shoulders. The power come from my body. My body only moves strait and rotates. My arms create a structure for my bodies power to go through, they have little power by themselves. My arms only move strait and rotate. Where are my shoulders? I Lost them because they led my body and arms astray. They are hiding in my body now, where they can only move strait and rotate.


How romantic...
Try doing 100 push ups or swinging a sledge hammer with those shoulders which have been neglected for such a very long time.
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Re: Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Postby Bhassler on Wed Sep 06, 2017 5:29 pm

BruceP wrote rather extensively about this (and similar) years ago, but swinging a sledge hammer for a chunk of time with bad intentions is a great way to learn how to coordinate shoulders/arms with the body. Just make sure it's done with the idea of doing the most work with the least amount of effort-- don't turn it into a Crossfit workout...
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Re: Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Postby richardg6 on Wed Sep 06, 2017 6:19 pm

Boy, you guys are really good. You have covered some of my favorite teachers and subjects. Adam Misner's video on single whip would be a good addition here. On Facebook, this would be criticised as to "Intelectual".
Thanks for your great observations.
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Re: Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Postby rojcewiczj on Wed Sep 06, 2017 7:53 pm

Push ups and pull ups are an excellent way to train the correct relationship between arms and shoulders. While the arm rotates and extends/contracts, the shoulders remain in one energy with the torso. In a push up position, my arms extend in order to raise my body, but my shoulders are actually a part of my body, crushing my arms downwards. In a pullup position my arms work to contract and draw my body up, but my shoulders are actually one with my body, crushing me downwards. In bench press, my arms work to press the weight up, but my shoulders are one with my body, being crushed against the bench. When I pull my opponent in, My arms are like ropes up to my shoulders, they draw in and I feel my shoulder joints tighten like clinched teeth, at that instant my shoulder acts as one with my body and my whole power is applied. When I push my opponent out my arms are like spears extending and I feel my shoulder joints tighten like shut teeth and then the same, the same, the same, Its always the same, in every instance in every exercise, when your are sleeping as when you are fighting. The energy of the shoulder belongs with your body, your arms are made free for a reason, they have their own energy and their own work to do.
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Re: Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Postby Subitai on Wed Sep 06, 2017 8:58 pm

Relaxed shoulders (pull away from ball n socket joint) and sunk elbows was a Kung Fu mantra at my school. Across all forms of CMA... it's pretty common.

It's basic and not advanced by any means. Anybody doing it properly would have relaxed yet useful power and able to make changes on the fly.

* Just about all the videos where students are too stiff i.e. not relaxed properly (worse if on purpose) and get thrown around or fly (fake woo woo) backwards....is a direct example of not have this basic skills down.

Clearly being done, "cough cough". ...in some videos by students of a recently mentioned master. :P
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Re: Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Postby Bhassler on Wed Sep 06, 2017 9:41 pm

Subitai wrote:It's basic and not advanced by any means. Anybody doing it properly would have relaxed yet useful power and able to make changes on the fly.

* Just about all the videos where students are too stiff i.e. not relaxed properly (worse if on purpose) and get thrown around or fly (fake woo woo) backwards....is a direct example of not have this basic skills down.


"Everybody has sung shoulders until I punch them in the face."
-Mike Tyson


*I'm pretty sure I fall into the category of "everybody"...
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Re: Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Postby Patrick on Wed Sep 06, 2017 10:48 pm

Oh Boy.
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Re: Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Postby Bao on Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:31 am

rojcewiczj wrote:Push ups and pull ups are an excellent way to train the correct relationship between arms and shoulders.


No. It's not.

Every year, there are thousands of strong people who do these kind of exercises everyday starting practicing Tai Chi/IMA and other body arts. Most of them are stiff, move uncoordinated and have very little control. Body coordination doesn't start from external exercises, then everyone would have great control and coordination. Instead, coordination starts from developing body awareness.

You need to understand how you move and coordinate your body by paying attention to what you do and you also have to accept that you move and coordinate your movements much worse than you believe. Just put any beginner in Tai Chi in front of a mirror or record him or her while practing form.... Now they will start to understand that how they move is different from how they think they move. Mostly become painfully aware of their own limitations, something that they mostly had no idea about.
Last edited by Bao on Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Postby RobP3 on Thu Sep 07, 2017 12:43 am

Actually push ups can be an excellent method to help develop punches and don't have to be "stiff and external" at all. But you either have to know how to recruit the shoulders as part of the movement chain (ditto for sledgehammer work) or isolate the shoulders so they are not engaged for the push up movement. In other words the shoulders can either be a part of, or even instigate, the movement chain, or not be used at all for strikes, depending on situation and method. But this is the RMA way, of course rather than CMA
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Re: Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Postby Niall Keane on Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:35 am

the difference between forms and application...

Yes shoulders should be part of movement chain and coordinated with body for power.... welcome to kindergarten! let's move on now?

SO, if people want to ignore how shoulders are used defensively (as in western boxing and also as trained in tai chi chuan five element fist etc.) fire away... all you do is make the opponents job easier... shtick out yer head there boy! like a golfball on a tee... and I'll drive it down the fairway 'till yer jumpin' , to hide, into bunkers!

It is not enough to punch with nei jia coordinated movement and power... you see this all the time, lads demonstrating pushes or strikes with the chin out there on display like its something to be proud of.... its so glaringly obvious to fighters when the demonstrator has never been in a ruck and hasn't a clue about the practical!
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Re: Body and Arms, I have no shoulders

Postby Bhassler on Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:00 am

Niall Keane wrote:...if people want to ignore how shoulders are used defensively (as in western boxing and also as trained in tai chi chuan five element fist etc.) fire away...


I've never seen this trained in taiji, and have often wondered about it. Is there more you can say about this, or is it just one of those things that gets covered in basic, more or less style agnostic drills?
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