I am beginning to see the difference between body movement driven by muscular coordination and body movement that also incorporates a system of fascial connection or what might be called fascial body movement.
Internal strength as I now understand it, is expressed through fascial body movement and not through muscular coordination alone. Developing fascial body movement follows a very different path from developing muscular coordination.
Developing muscular coordination involves developing the gross and fine muscular motor skills and eye-hand coordination for a particular activity. This is the system we use, for example, to learn how to walk, write, play ping-pong, and practice some martial arts forms.
Developing the feeling of fascial body movement involves feeling fascial stretch, noticing where there are gaps in the feeling of fascial stretch, and then eliminating these gaps by linking the areas where you feel stretch to develop full body fascial connection.
In the Wujifa system, internal strength is developed following the path of fascial body movement. Wujifa focuses on developing the feeling of fascial stretch through simple, functional exercises. The core Wujifa exercise is Wujifa Zhan Zhuang with its unique structural alignment points of 1,2,3,4 - 1,2,3,4.
Here is an example of fascial body movement as demonstrated by my instructor. If you don't see any difference between this and the more familiar muscular coordination movement, that's OK. If you don't know fascial stretch, and if you haven't had someone show you many, many times, then distinguishing the two can be difficult or confusing.
Wujifa Basics: Connection Stretching and Refinement
In my early years when I was learning and practicing Tai-chi forms and push-hands, I thought that refining my muscular coordination skills would lead to internal strength. After ten years on this path, I discovered that I was no closer to demonstrating internal strength than when I started.
Over the last ten years of learning and practicing Wujifa, I am now beginning to see a difference in how various internal martial arts practitioners move. I notice that only a small percentage of people practicing the internal martial arts actually move with fascial connectedness or fascial body movement. Very interesting....
Even though conceptual understanding is no substitute for actual practice, being able to conceptualize the distinction between Muscular Coordination and Fascial Body Movement has helped me understand why my earlier practicing Tai-chi forms and push hands did not lead to developing internal strength. I hope you find this distinction useful as well.
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To learn more about developing fascial body movement, check out the following Wujifa articles: