Updated: Nov 4, 2022
Go back far enough in most martial arts lineages and there is usually someone, often the founder, who exhibited extraordinary skill. It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction as testimony devolves into hearsay, story & legend. It is my hypothesis that many of these individuals who have inspired these stories or even founded new lineages had, through whatever means, discovered, developed and learned how to use Integrate Strength.
When I first touched hands with my Teacher, Master Cheuk Fung, I was at
a complete loss. The strength and skill I had for many years of training simply did not work. It was like I was playing checkers and he was playing chess. The experience left me a little bewildered, befuddled and convinced I was in the right place.
The first rule of Integrated Strength is that it's different than regular strength. It’s not more relaxed or more refined regular strength, it is a different way of using the body. Moving as a connected whole means using muscular strength in a different way and gets different results. Those results can be quite useful for self defense.
The Yi Chuan Method puts developing Integrated Strength first on the agenda. That’s why the art is centered around standing, because activating the frame is the first goal. Connected strength requires connection, a route, a way to leverage root into gesture.
'Searching for Strength' is the perspective from which to build your Integrated Strength practice. Avoid the trap of mindless repetition, dutifully repeating the same exercise the same way, expecting something to magically change. Searching means you are not waiting for it to happen, you are pursuing it, hunting it down, seeking. Each find launches a new search for the next refinement, the next insight, maybe a revelation.
The exercises is this 'Discover Yi Chuan' course are designed to help you search for Integrated Strength and develop it once found. The, there is hard work in habituating a new pattern of movement, particularly when those patterns are intended for use in self defense. Testing Strength principals need to be constantly applied to training to create positive feedback loops that separate wheat from chaff.
We must work out how to apply the principles and techniques of self defense with Integrated Strength. The mechanics of a punch, a lock, a throw change, offering new possibilities. Figuring out how to defend yourself with Integrated Strength should lead to changes in every other part of your training, meaning how you do each exercise evolves with your understanding.
It not just ideas and understanding that changes but the body changes with practice. Connective tissues are lengthened and strengthened. Muscle is loosened and conditioned, joints are opened and body awareness increases. New and changing sensations accompany practice like heat, sweating, shaking, numbness, heaviness, lightness and magnetic feelings.
If you have committed yourself to developing Integrated Strength, design yourself a daily practice regime with clear goals, seek the guidance of a qualified teacher, test your results and make constant adjustments to your routine as your abilities grow.
Take what you are discovering into other areas.. Exercise, sports, walking or even riding your bike can all benefit from Integrated Strength and become training activities themselves. Standing in line at the shops, driving you car or even typing on the computer can all be done with an activated frame. The principles apply in meditation, yoga and stretching.
Remember that to get different results you must train differently and that each gesture, every move must evolve with your skill.