weight and strength

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

weight and strength

Postby rojcewiczj on Wed Jul 01, 2020 12:58 pm

I think an important topic of martial arts development is the difference between using muscle force and using weight force. I think the main difficulty with using weight force is that your weight is not a muscle that you can engage to issue force. When dealing with an opponent, its natural to use your intent to trigger your muscles in an attempt to generate force, this willful triggering of muscle force always works against the use of weight force. In order to use weight force its necessary to think purely in terms of spacial, positioning, directional terms. This is especially true when looking at the torso, where most of our weight is centered. No amount of twisting, crunching, or core engagement will force your weight in a direction. Only a free movement of your torso in a certain direction will move your weight in that direction. The difficulty is in the contradiction that arises when you engage muscles against resistance in an attempt to force your weight against the opponent, when this occurs, your weight is actually not shifting and is not felt by the opponent.

Mastering the skill of using weight, while it can manifest in powerful strikes, is most evident in the application of take-downs and grappling technique. I believe this is the reason Chinese martial arts has failed to express itself successfully in kick-boxing/ striking terms. When we look at the origins of Sanda, we see the striking from western boxing, Thai boxing, and others, the Chinese element is the fast take-down techniques. Also, we can see this in the effectiveness of Shuai Jiao to understand and apply traditional stance shifting and movements.

In summery, the pure and perfect use of weight force as opposed to muscle force is extremely difficult and requires dedicated practice in the mechanics of weight shifting. These mechanics can be developed through those methods that typify Chinese martial arts: stance shifting, relaxation, etc. The application of this skill, while applicable to striking, was developed more towards take-downs in Chinese martial arts.

I'm hoping to spark a discussion around these assertions, if I sound overly certain, its only to stimulate creative response! Thank you
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Re: weight and strength

Postby everything on Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:11 pm

here's an oversimplified example. I was arm wrestling my kids. I kind of "cheated" by hanging my weight down, and they were using arm muscle strength. I won, but I'm sure they're stronger. When we looked closer at applying some of the techniques out there, they beat me easily. It's techniques of leverage (like in other wrestling), but of course strength is always good!
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Re: weight and strength

Postby Quigga on Wed Jul 01, 2020 1:41 pm

I think it would be easier to just use weight/substance and force/function. Combining Qi and Li, transforming into Jin. Because what we seek is a not a technique or conscious use of intent, but a state and body of being that naturally allows Jin to arise. Thus every movement and variation of force can fully+easily be apllied in a correct manner.

Combine the feeling in your body with your strength. Then you know which feeling to apply in a situation. With correct body conditioning and structure you can feel the force moving through...whatever it's moving through.
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Re: weight and strength

Postby dspyrido on Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:07 pm

4 ounces for 1000 pounds? There's a time and place for it.

"Make them carry you"

It's a quote often used in grappling. Once structural weaknesses are exposed to leverage it requires less effort if they have to hold the weight up. As the weight can be adapted then it's a battle just to get rid of the weight which creates more exposures & fatigue.

In striking - hitting with weight is "whole body power" & the 6 harmonies is a teaching tool for it. With time it becomes refined as short power when the whole body is applied in a split second.

The only difference i see with strength is the way it's trained. Many look at strength based on slow heavy low rep weight training as it focuses on developing visible muscle. The alternative is fast light high rep weight training which creates a different form of strength. Especially when it is directed to support the martial movements vs say curling a bar.

This "refined" strength is how stopping power is developed and is the reason it's all mind over body. Unusual power is achieved with repetition that is refined with an attentive mind that directs the training. As is movement, deflecting, learning to take impact & evasion.
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Re: weight and strength

Postby johnwang on Wed Jul 01, 2020 6:17 pm

If you are not willing to move your gravity center to be outside of your base, you cannot take advantage on your own weight.
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Re: weight and strength

Postby Trick on Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:44 am

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Re: weight and strength

Postby Trick on Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:44 am

float like a butterfly
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Re: weight and strength

Postby charles on Thu Jul 02, 2020 10:07 am

johnwang wrote:If you are not willing to move your gravity center to be outside of your base, you cannot take advantage on your own weight.


I'm impressed that you know this and can explicitly state it.

The one exception to what you state is momentum (mass x velocity). That doesn't require one to move one's centre of gravity outside of one's base: in some cases it is actually moving the entire body, including the base.
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Re: weight and strength

Postby charles on Thu Jul 02, 2020 10:23 am

rojcewiczj wrote:... this willful triggering of muscle force always works against the use of weight force... No amount of twisting, crunching, or core engagement will force your weight in a direction. Only a free movement of your torso in a certain direction will move your weight in that direction.


Not so. It can be so, but doesn't have to be.

A simple thought experiment. Take a heavy ball, hold it at shoulder height and then let go. It will fall towards the Earth with an acceleration due to gravity. It will hit the ground with a force equal to its mass times the acceleration due to gravity. Take the same ball but now attach a spring to the bottom of the ball. Lifting the ball to shoulder height stretches the spring and you have to exert a force on the spring stretch the spring and lift the ball. The force used to create that displacement of the spring is stored in the spring as potential energy. When you let go of the ball, the stored energy of the spring acts on the ball. When the ball hits the ground it has the combined force of the ball's mass x acceleration due to gravity PLUS the spring restoring force. The "externally" applied force augments the force with which the ball hits the ground.

The body can be used similarly where the muscles are the "springs". One can learn to use the actions of the muscles to augment one's force due to weight. That is an important element of "opening" and "closing". One stretches the "springs", the other releases them. Which of opening or closing is the stretching (storing) depends on the circumstances.

In summery, the pure and perfect use of weight force as opposed to muscle force is extremely difficult and requires dedicated practice in the mechanics of weight shifting.


I'm not sure what "pure and perfect" mean in this context. It is very easy to learn how to use one's weight for striking and throwing. The difficult part is the prerequisite skill of "relaxation" or "letting go" - fang song. Once one can do that, using one's weight is easy.
Last edited by charles on Thu Jul 02, 2020 10:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: weight and strength

Postby rojcewiczj on Thu Jul 02, 2020 10:51 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvtyJFKc51I&t=1s

The issue to my mind is that emphasis and sequencing of movement is often such that ones weight is not able to transition during techniques. Pure and perfect means that the weight power is maximized. My point is not that muscles cannot be used, but that a continues weight shift in necessary. If we look at the typical postures of Chinese martial arts we can see the often frozen remains of what was once a lively and effective weight shifting skill.

In the above video, Master Wu Nanfang demonstrates what he inherited as the Shaolin stake skill. We can clearly see how every movement is initiated and governed by a continues shifting of weight.
Last edited by rojcewiczj on Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: weight and strength

Postby wayne hansen on Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:50 am

Don't think weight means lack of muscle or strength
You don't take your weight beyond your centre you make your opponent part of your centre
Just like a car hitting a pedestrian
Don't put power into the form let it naturally arise from the form
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Re: weight and strength

Postby johnwang on Thu Jul 02, 2020 12:53 pm

charles wrote:in some cases it is actually moving the entire body, including the base.

Speed is the concern here. A turtle can move without moving his gravity center outside of it's base. But a turtle doesn't move very fast.

A runner just repeats these 2 tasks.

- Move gravity center in front of his base (this will cause him to lose balance).
- Move his base forward to regain balance back.

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Re: weight and strength

Postby rojcewiczj on Thu Jul 02, 2020 12:55 pm

John Wang, I see your point. I think you can also call weight shifting a different name: base switching. Meaning, the skill of switching your base from one place to the other while performing techniques. As you transition you are moving your weight outside of one base to bring it to the other.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vijD09_O8ek&t=377s
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Re: weight and strength

Postby johnwang on Thu Jul 02, 2020 1:12 pm

wayne hansen wrote:you make your opponent part of your centre ...

Agree! When you and your opponent's bodies are connected, there is only one gravity center.

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