Updated: Jan 4
Most people have never experienced integrated strength.
Before meeting my teacher I had only heard stories and read historical accounts of people who had achieved the skill. With an athletic background that included extensive strength training and years of martial arts practice under my belt I was very skeptical of claims that there was something different out there, some type of strength I did not understand.
That skepticism was instantly replaced with surprise, bewilderment and an intense curiosity the first time I received just a small dose of integrated strength. In that moment my pride in my size and strength fell as I was helplessness tossed about causally and without effort.
There was nothing I could do. I could not find anything to use my own strength against and cringed to think what could happen if my teacher had even the slightest intent to hurt me. I could not figure out what he was doing, how he was doing it and I ended up literally giggling each time he launched my off my feet into the arms of the human safety net he had arranged behind me.
Integrated strength feels acts and operates differently from ordinary strength. It’s different because it incorporates and concentrates ordinary strength in a way that allows a high percentage of a person’s strength capacity to be applied in unusual ways.
Consider a dead-lift. With proper training it’s not unusual for a person to dead-lift more than twice their own body weight. The weighted bar makes this possible by giving the body’s frame something to work against in a mechanically favorable arrangement. The weighted bar literally seals the frame into the ground and gives the lifter something to work against.
Integrated strength works in a similar way except that it requires no weights; the frame is sealed within itself in six directions to allow the practitioner to apply a greater percentage of his or her strength potential to the task at hand.
Whatever the purpose, being able to apply a greater percentage of your strength is a significant advantage. Yi Chuan practice awakens integrated strength, develops it and helps the practitioner figure out how to apply it in a dynamic way.
I personally use the term 'Integrated Strength' instead of 'internal strength', Hunyuan strength, oneness strength, etc. simply because it is more descriptive.
We have all sorts of energies (chi) that when harmonized have an exponential effect on the effectiveness of our self-defense techniques. Think of a rouge wave. A rouge wave occurs when two or more wave harmonize with each other and create a much larger wave that is the combined amplitude of both waves.
We have contractive force, elastic force, inertial force, hydraulic force, pneumatic force lead by our intent like a conductor leads an orchestra. When you combine these right the force goes rouge as the peaks of the power curves line up.
It is also important to note that no art, no modality, no tradition owns Integrated Strength. Integrated Strength is essentially a birthright, a latent potential waiting to be discovered and developed. Styles may differ on what they develop and how they develop it, but at the end of the day they are all working with the same human bodies and the same dormant potential.