Friday, November 30, 2018

GMB's 12 Days of Play Promo series

GMB started a promo campaign promoting their exercise programs.  The concept is they introduce a new movement every day for 12 days.  See the individual video descriptions for info about the contest which is part of the promo, the prizes, etc.  The moves are fun to play with if you're reasonably healthy (no serious injuries). 

In case you, dear reader, are wondering, I don't get any money if somebody decides to buy a GMB product because of what they read on my blog.

Here are the movement videos - will try to update as new videos get posted, as they're difficult to find by normal Youtube search:

Day 1 - Bear

I've seen all three variations in the Elements program, but it's nice to see a different person demonstrating the moves.

Day 2 - Jump

2nd variation I think is in Floor One, but I don't own that program.  3rd variation is in Integral Strength.

Day 3 - Monkey

1st variation is the basic version in Elements, but the 2nd and 3rd look new to me.  2nd variation is dragging the toes, almost floating them.  3rd variation adds a pause with toes floating.

Day 4 - Cartwheel

I'd seen a GMB tutorial that introduced the Cartwheel as a variation on Monkey but this is not the approach taken here.  Very clear progression of starting by approaching the "line" (formed by your hands) from an angle, and gradually tightening the approach angle to where your body does the whole movement on the line.

Day 5 - Hollow Body Series

Looks mostly the same as the Hollow Body series taught in Integral Strength, except the face-down variation; presumably to stay with the idea of teaching 3 variations per movement.

Day 6 - Forward Shoulder Roll

This is not the same front roll taught in Aikido and Judo dojo, but then again just about every "system" has its own front roll.  I like how this version of the front roll is broken down here. I don't know of anyone else who teaches the front roll like this - in which one gets into a particular position and just hangs out there, and gradually and slowly works towards the roll.

Day 7 - Bent-Arm Monkey

The first two variations are pretty much the same as taught in Elements.  The 3rd variation is actually the Crow Pose, except just a 1-second hold is ok.  You get the idea that practicing the Bent-Arm Monkey will aid greatly in the quest to achieve a Crow Pose.

Day 8 - Frogger

The variations are a bit different than what is taught in Elements.  First is dragging the toes across the floor.  Second is pulling the feet forward, just above the floor (no toe drag) - basically the "standard" Frogger.  Third is the standard Frogger with a "stall" - doing the movement slowly enough to give the feet more time to float in the air.  Finally a bonus advanced variation is shown, which is to do the third variation, but then pause with the feet still in the air, toes pointed back.

Monday, November 19, 2018

GMB's Crow Pose Tutorial updated!

GMB published a tutorial on the Crow Pose a while back.  I started thinking about the Crow Pose as a way of maintaining or even improving shoulder strength in the forward direction, without impacting my clubbell training too much.  The clubbell training program that I'm currently pursuing does not forward pressing strength very mush.   More about clubbells in another post.

I'd messed with Crow Pose off and on for a while but have never achieved it.  So I guess I've arrived at an "on" time again.  This time I noticed a major GMB's tutorial - they've added a major update to their training progression!  Now it looks like this, with updates in bold:

1. Rock back and forth between toes and hands.
2. Lean forward to place your forehead on the floor and hold position, with feet still on floor.
3. Point toes backward to remove the support of the foot, with head still on floor, working towards pointing the toes of both feet backward.
4. Slowly look up, looking up just a little at first - to remove the support of the head - working on looking up further

I've seen other crow pose/frog stand tutorials, but GMB seems to be the first to have hit on the idea of using the head as an additional support, then gradually removing it as a support as the trainee gains the necessary balance and strength.  Kudos to GMB on this updated Crow Pose Tutorial.

I should note that in my eagerness to test myself today, I rushed to the last step of the progression - with both feet pointing backwards, I lifted my head.  It was fine for 2 seconds or so, then I felt a sudden sharp pain in the left side of my chest.  It might have been gas in my stomach, or it might have been my pectoral muscle suddenly cramping.  I don't think it was a heart attack because the chest pain would have lasted minutes instead of seconds; or the pain would have returned after going away.  In any case, to play it safe, I'll practice Crow Pose under this updated routine on days that I'm not training with clubbells.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Jin Series #3

Jin Series #3 by Mike Sigman
Illustrating Qi and Qi Jin
Just a quick aside to explain how I illustrate sometimes. In the drawing below, there is a yellow band of color that has some little balls in it. The yellow band is meant to represent the actual tissues/muscle-tendon-channels that are support the stresses through the tissues: that is the Qi or the qi-tissues which are making minute directional force adjustments in the body. The little balls with arrows all pointing in the same direction as the jin force are to indicate those minor adjustments that are happening all through the body. So the yellow line is basically the Qi tissues that align to form the jin force.

Here is an illustration of Downward Jin. Remember that a good push outward and a good pull downward with jin require that the body be cohesively connected throughout the qi-tissue path.

Also remember that you can combine different directions of jins
imultaneously. For instance, a good basic punch is going to have jin from the feet to the fist and at the same time there will be a downward-pulling jin. The combination of two forces adds into a stronger force.

The red line is the jin force as it feels to someone receiving the jin force. Of course forces don't happen magically through the air, but since that resulting force *feels* like it is directly from foot to hand, I draw it as such. When I'm actually doing a jin-force like that, I visualize that there is a force up from my feet and straight to my hands. If someone touches my hands, I focus and maintain the visualization of a force from my feet to my hands: the body and subconscious oblige by producing such a force.
As you progress, you learn to picture forces from a point of access to the ground up to some other point on/in your body or into your opponent's body.

Jin Series #2

Jin Series #2 (by Mike Sigman)
The Essence of What Jin Is, in Practical Usage.
I'm going to keep this short/truncated so that the meaning gets through more clearly without getting too far into the weeds.
Stand up and either imagine slipping a 30-pound backpack/rucksack onto your shoulders or imagine putting a 10-pound bag of beans on the top of your head like a primitive porter might do. Feel the weight. Now, mentally try and arrange your body so that the weight of whichever you imagined goes down through your bones to the soles of your feet and therefore the weight has "gone through your body" and is now resting on the ground. There is a very different feeling when you have allowed a weight to go straight through your structure to the ground. Learn to relax and let forces go through you to the ground at your feet.
Do the same process two or three times and notice what happens when you "change" your body inside and "let the weight go straight through your structure to the ground".
When you let the weight go through your structure and rest on the ground, rather than holding the weight somewhere in your body, you will be using less muscular effort because you're now letting the ground hold most of the weight. So suddenly you have a bit more spare muscular strength to play with. A quick test that I suggest for people to use when they feel like they've let the load through their body to the ground is to wriggle/gyrate the hips a little bit: the hips should wiggle freely and, most of all, the lower-back should be relaxed. Always keep the lower-back relaxed because that aids in letting the support of the ground up through your body to hold the weight on back or head. Tension in the lower-back reduces the purity of the ground forces coming back up through the body and therefore forces you into a more muscular-strength-demanding mode.
The tissues and micro-muscles that are changing where forces are coming from (whether the sole of the foot or somewhere in the body) are the qi and if you notice, if you were able to shift the weight down to the soles of the feet, you couldn't directly just bring those muscles into play: you had to visualize the effect you wanted and those micro-muscular arrangements were shifted/changed accordingly by the subconscious. So you can think of your "qi", in this case, as being some involuntary-muscle-tissues that are mostly controlled by subconscious, not the conscious, direct mind.
Exercise #1
There is a very good, basic exercise where you hold a small weight/ball in your right hand (or left hand) and arrange yourself inside so that the weight of your body and the weight in your hand are resting directly on the soles of your feet: your foot-sole accepts the full weight from above. Try to keep the weight from your hand and body always resting on the soles of your feet while you make the weight/hand go around in a small circle. At all points in the circle, the weight should be resting as much as possible on the ground at the soles of your feet. You are now doing a basic jin/movement exercise.
If you want to utilize the body most efficiently while making the circle, keep the weight on the ground through your body, but make your middle/waist the pivot point for how the body is moving the hand circularly. If you're more comfortable just using the shoulder, that's fine for the moment. If you're going to start learning to use the dantian/hara, you're going to have to move your pivot to the middle of the body someday.
Exercise #2
This is a variant of Exercise #1, but in this case hold your right arm horizontally out in front of you, right foot forward, with your palm facing forward. Start off with your weight slightly forward onto the front/right foot. Let a partner push into your palm with about 3-5 pounds of force and you sink back and down into your foot. Imagine a straight line from your back/left foot-sole going straight to the point where your partner is pushing into your palm. Even though your body is bent at the shoulder/arm, the actual force should be imagined as going straight from the palm of the hand to the foot. The foot does all the holding work; rest into it completely and let it be the foot that stops/holds the incoming push from partner.
If you're successfully letting the sole of your foot accept the incoming push, you should be able to easily wriggle/gyrate your hips a bit. Keep the lower back relaxed, always!
If you're doing Exercise #2 correctly, you should be able to focus on keeping the incoming force in the back foot while you do a slow, small circle of your arm/hand while keeping the weight/force comfortably in your back foot. Once again you're doing a fairly basic jin exercise if you do this correctly.
Think about what is going on, for a moment. This post is to give you an idea about what Jin actually is: we'll get deeper into how to use it and ways to use it, later. Jin is a way of setting up force paths by imagining them: your subconscious and your involuntary-muscle system do the aiming of the force direction. Most of your jin forces will come from the ground, but some of them can come from the down-pull of weight or some combination of the two mechanisms. Some jin usages can be pretty complex and take some practice to use, but essentially jin comes from the way the qi-tissues and subconscious align forces in the body (a largely autonomic process). So the mind leads the qi and the qi configures itself ahead of the jin being present. Jin is called "the physical manifestation of the qi": what could be more accurate than that?
If you let the ground hold most of the weight/forces, the ground does most of the work. If you let your weight pulling down provide most downward force, gravity is again doing most of the work.

Jin Series #1

Posted by Mike Sigman on 6H - first of a new series of articles about Jin, reflecting his updated understanding.

What is Jin and why is it useful?
Jin is a force and a force can be measured and its direction ascertained ... that puts it in the real, scientific world and it gives us a Rosetta Stone from which we can get a grasp of what the elusive "qi" really is.
Jin is called a "refined force", one that is developed over time, as opposed to the normal muscular, brute force of muscles and bones which is normally referred to as "force", which is called "Li". "Jin" and "Li", both being "forces" are sometimes used to mean the same thing: for instance, it is common to say either "fa jin" or "fa li", in idiomatic conversation.
The qi paradigm is very old and when it first originated, they invented some terms like "qi" to help explain how things worked. The problem is that in light of discoveries in physics, physiology, describing things using the ancient qi-paradigm can get sort of confusing. Just keep it in mind that we often to things within our body that require subtle changes in forces to achieve: western physiology has one way of describing/explaining those subtle changes in forces, but in the old days of China, they decided that those subtle changes were caused by something called "qi".
"Jin" forces are the result of subtle ("refined") changes in the "qi" in the body, and hence without "qi" there is no "jin".
Most jin is ground-based jin and there is an old common saying to the effect that the "the qi/jin starts at the feet, is controlled by the waist, and is expressed in the fingers/hands". Ground-based jin works upward from the solidity of ground, but remember that the solidity of the ground is there because of Gravity ... gravity is the Qi of the Earth.
Jin can also start from the pull-down of weight, but the pull-down forces of weight are also a product of gravity, the Qi of the Earth. So Up or Down, Open or Close, our forces almost always relate in some way to the Qi of the Earth, or Gravity.
Jin forces are "refined" forces because they are the product of the mind's controlling of subtle body components (the ones the ancients referred to as "qi"), and Jin forces are always some form of the forces of gravity, whether Up, Down, or some arbitrary angle that relates to Up or Down via angles and geometry and/or friction.
The advantage to Jin forces is that they can be formed within the body and not be visible to an outsider. For this reason, jin is called "the concealed strength". IN RELATION TO AN OPPONENT, JIN FORCES CAN BE ADDED BACK INTO AN OPPONENT'S FORCES IN SUCH A WAY THAT AN OPPONENT'S FORCES ARE USED AGAINST HIM.
That martial usage above is the principle advantage of jin forces in martial usage, but since jin forces are from either the solidity of the ground or the downpull of weight there is an extra, important advantage that the Up and Down forces from the Earth also give us a lot of additional force that does not require so much muscle. More on that part of Jin, soon.
Most of the impressive tricks seen in Asian martial-arts have to do with jin or with other odd ways of manipulating and training the so-called "qi". There is a discrete development of tissues controlled by the subconscious which is the qi of the body, but we'll talk about that further in the series. I don't want any post to get so long-winded and complex that it defeats the idea of simple, manageable chunks of information.