I like those exercises and my wife digs them even more. Thanks for them.
I understand (very rudimentary) how these exercises relate to fascia. But how exactly do you relate them with IMA? Is a "springy" body in your opinion a prerequisite for IMA skills or can IMA skills be narrowed down to having a spring like quality (counter moves, opposing forces)? In Yi Quan for example it is often talked about being a big spring. Using your stability and weight. You can explode forward in an instant, but also rebound back as fast. If you go forward, you also think about going backward etc.
I can relate to this, but to my limited knowledge , fascia are still secondary to muscles. You can only passively influence them, the work comes still down to muscles. What is your opinion on this?
Last edited by Patrick on Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
Those movements are some that I have simplified and exaggerated, using the big movements with big swings helps to get the feeling of the entire body being stretched along a particular line, and the different basic movements using the three planes of motion (sagittal, frontal, transverse) help to develop that feeling of the whole body stretch running through the spine and torso from the feet to the hands, along the front and back of the body, the sides of the body, and spiralling across the body. The feeling of whole-body stretch then helps to develop the feeling of whole-body contraction, as you learn to contract the entire area being stretched as a single unit, or a wave.
The standard IMA method appears to be to use those same feelings, whole body stretches and contractions, alternating back and forth across the body and fluidly changing between the different lines, but generally uses smaller, more subtle and more sophisticated movements, which makes it harder to get the feeling in the beginning, in my experience. The yiquan method uses exactly the same principle, using no visible external movement in zhanzhuang, then tiny movements, then slightly larger movements moving into shili practice and fajin, like we can see in the videos of Han Xingyuan, for example:
Absolutely this is training for the neuromuscular system!
The only difference is that fascia develops more slowly than muscles, (and muscles develop more slowly than nerves or motor patterns), and fascia responds to high volume rather than high intensity, hence doing the same movements at relatively low intensity with lots and lots of reps. Fascia adapts to these kinds of stimulus not just by becoming thicker and stronger, but by becoming better organised, with the fibres aligning themselves along the lines of the forces being applied to them regularly. So, exercises which stretch and contract lines of force spanning the whole body from the feet to the hands, will cause the connective tissue system over time to become thicker and better organised with fibres aligning in more and more coherent lines through the body.
Muscles firing in response to nerve signals are certainly what drive all bodily movements, but muscles move the skeleton by pulling first on their connective tissue sheaths and tendinous attachments, so if the connective tissue sheaths are made up of fibres that have been thickened and organised along clear lines of force stretching throughout the body, then the whole system will provide more coherent whole-body movements with forces being transferred more clearly through the connective tissue.
So it's absolutely not "all about fascia". Clearer motor patterns will make the muscular component better coordinated, recruiting more or less muscle fibres when appropriate, reducing parasitic tension where it's not needed, and also the muscles themselves will adapt to the training, BUT the connective tissues will adapt over time to become thicker and more coherent, and that will improve force transfer, storage and release of kinetic energy through the tendons which reduces muscular effort, and yes increases the feeling of "springiness" in the body.
And no none of this information is necessary, if the training methods are good it'll all happen by itself.
Thank you Simon! This information was really useful and changed my perspective a bit. In the Stretch therapy forum, Craig wrote (along those lines) that although he met a lot of flexible people they were lacking a springy quality that he got from the the Chinese ballistic stretching methods. What do you think about this stretching method? Do you see it in a similar vein as your swinging exercises?
Last edited by Patrick on Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.