Setting up Formal Practice, Part 2, Activating 'The Frame'
In Part 1 of 'Setting up Formal Practice' we looked at opening our formal session with exercises designed to help us get present in real time with how we feel and what we feel. I like to think of it as 'entering the Nowspace'
As you may recall the point of opening our session with awareness exercises is to continually develop our ability to snap out of our mindspace and into the nowspace when needed for performance of an activity or defense of self. From this place of enhanced body awareness we can transition into Step 2 which is activating or 'waking up' or 'activating the frame'.
Tensegrity as Our Conceptual Model of 'The Frame'
Have a look at the picture of a human form constructed using tensegral components. Tensegrity, short for "tensional integrity," is a structural principle that involves the use of isolated compression members (struts) that are interconnected by continuous tension members (cables or tendons). In tensegrity structures, the struts remain in a state of pure compression, while the tension members bear the load and distribute forces throughout the structure.
In the human body, tensegrity is believed to play a crucial role in maintaining posture, movement, and overall structural integrity. The bones act as the compression elements, while the muscles and connective tissues, such as tendons and ligaments, function as tension members. This arrangement allows the body to distribute forces efficiently, withstand external loads, and adapt to different movements and positions. (see below for ways in which the tensegrity model can by applied to martial arts)
What 'Activating' The Frame Means
All of us have years of movement habits based on isolated strength. There is nothing wrong with isolated strength habits as much of our daily life requires little more. For purposes of efficiency isolated strength is ideal for common tasks like brushing your hair, eating or typing on your PC.
Things get a little more complicated when we purposely develop isolated strength. Go to any gym for numerous examples of this....muscle chain being isolated so that they may be strengthened. Sports and other physical endeavors are often no different, focusing on the muscle chains that are primary for whatever technique/skill is being performed.
Isolated strength movement habits can interfere with experiencing the inherent oneness of our frame. Integrated Strength training requires us to get around, or perhaps a better description would be 'underneath' isolated strength movement to find the 'oneness' or 'hun yuan' state. In this state any gesture, step or change in shape involves the entire structure. Every joint moves, even if only a tiny bit. Muscles interpolate, meaning contract and relax are in dynamic balance maintain tensegrity in stillness or motion.
As a second stage in your formal practice routines I recommend developing your routines to 'activate your frame'. These routines can be though of as simple movements that help us get into the 'whole body' or 'oneness' POV, to remind us to drop the old way of moving and explore the idea that 'when one thing moves, everything moves'.
Earth & Sky for Activating the Frame
Join me for a quick session of using the Earth & Sky exercise as a tool to activate your frame. Before you hit play take a moment to get into the Nowspace and so your deeper awareness of your feeling state and feel free to extend the session beyond the video time as you desire.
More on the Earth & Sky Exercise
I have a series of articles that go into the Earth & Sky exercise in detail:
Share your experiences!
Use the comment section below to share how you make this practice work for you!
Book a Check In session with me. Check Ins are short (30-45min) private lessons/consultations where I answer your questions and help you improve your exercises and training approach with direct feedback & guidance.
More on Tensegrity & Martial Arts
Tensegrity principles can be applied to martial arts in various ways, both in terms of technique and body conditioning. Here are a few examples:
Structural Integrity: Tensegrity emphasizes maintaining a balanced and stable structure while generating and receiving force. Martial artists often focus on aligning their body and maintaining proper posture to maximize their stability and minimize vulnerabilities. By understanding the principles of tensegrity, martial artists can develop a solid foundation and utilize their body's inherent structural integrity for improved technique and resilience.
Efficient Force Transmission: Tensegrity promotes the efficient transfer of force throughout the body. Martial artists can utilize tensegrity principles to optimize their striking and grappling techniques. By coordinating tension and compression in their movements, they can generate and deliver force more effectively while minimizing energy loss. This can enhance the speed, power, and precision of their strikes and techniques.
Balance and Stability: Tensegrity principles can help martial artists improve their balance and stability. By consciously maintaining tension and compression relationships within their body, they can enhance their proprioception and body awareness. This, in turn, allows them to maintain stability during dynamic movements, withstand external forces, and quickly recover their balance in combat situations.
Body Conditioning: Tensegrity-inspired exercises and training methods can be used to condition the body for martial arts. By incorporating exercises that emphasize tension and compression relationships, martial artists can enhance their strength, flexibility, and overall body control. Tensegrity-based training can improve the coordination and integration of different muscle groups, leading to more efficient and powerful movements.
Injury Prevention and Resilience: Tensegrity principles can contribute to injury prevention and resilience in martial arts. By optimizing the distribution of forces throughout the body, tensegrity-based training can help reduce the risk of localized stress and overuse injuries. It can also enhance the body's ability to absorb and dissipate impact forces, improving resilience against strikes and falls.
It's worth noting that the application of tensegrity to martial arts is not a specific martial art style or technique but rather a conceptual framework that can be integrated into various martial arts disciplines. Martial artists who incorporate tensegrity principles into their training can enhance their technical proficiency, body mechanics, and overall performance.