Key Qualities for
by Tommy Kirchhoff
The three major concerns in athletic performance training
are physical conditioning, adherence to form, and psychological
bolstering. In this thesis, we will only discuss the first two:
physical conditioning and adherence to form.
Physical conditioning is limited by many variables including
age, body type and technology. While age and body type
seem to be obvious limiters, technology of physical conditioning
is easily overlooked. To illustrate this example, consider how an
athlete in a third world country would train: running and jumping
are innate skills and can be practiced by most anyone; sit-ups
and pushups are training technologies that would have to be
learned from someone else; isometric muscle training technology
would then be like a constellation—even if witnessed, an athlete’s
understanding may never occur. This is what is meant by training
technology being overlooked.
Form, or optimal technique, is developed in all athletics. Swimming
has form. Running has form. Shot put and high jumping each have
an optimal form. Learning to adhere to specific athletic form requires
tutelage from a coach who can analyze an athlete’s movements,
compare them to the form, and communicate the corrections.
However, form is still superceded by physical limitation. No matter
how much coaching a 99-year old man receives, he simply cannot
adhere to proper running form the way an 18-year old athlete can.
So when we consider physical conditioning first, the technology of
the training is paramount. The third-world athlete should always be
open to overlooked and better methods of physical training—as
should the top-level athletes of any sport or discipline. The optimal
methods of training get overlooked because they are simply not
in the mainstream or available to even the most savvy, worldly
and experienced trainers.
There exist optimal training technologies and methods that are
overlooked, but have been proven over many thousands of years.
These are termed “internal athletics.” When compared to the
highest-level physical training technologies of today, the relatively
unknown methods of internal athletics could be considered “physical
laws of the human body.” Though that statement seems brash and
could be offensive to trainers of the world’s top athletes, the internal
athletics are simply overlooked; however, when one reads the “theories”
of internal athletic training below, they do in fact seem like law.
(the following information is compiled and paraphrased from a
high-level internal athletic trainer; phrases in quotations are his
own words, verbatim)
1. Whole Body Power. The body must coordinate and
act as a single unit; it must utilize five powers.
a. Acceleration – the power of movement and ability
to increase speed
b. Waist Power – “You have to use the waist all the time,
not just some of the time. Every movement must include
the use of the waist. The waist turns first.”
c. Hip Power – Use of the hips to push the earth
d. Bodyweight – Described as a pouncing action in which
the body weight comes down as if from the ski. It comes
through the hips. Compare this to the way an animal
attacks: it shoots out the front legs and back legs at the
same time. That is why they get excellent power when
hunting. The muscles shrink and explode, pushing the
shorter muscles. This kind of power is from the waist center.
Ninety percent of people cannot correctly use hip power and
this is one of the most difficult things to do. Animals use it
when hunting. A tiger can knock down an ox because he
knows how to use bodyweight, not because of punch power.
e. Whole Body Harmony—This is making all the muscles of the
body work together in a complex harmony. This does not
mean they are necessarily working in the same direction,
since sometimes there is an internal opposing power that
develops, similar to the action of a slingshot or drawing a bow.
When this harmony is maximized, power is generated when
there is a release of the opposing power of the muscles. This
does not always happen, because sometimes the waist muscles
work very hard and the other muscles are lazy. People who
have lazy muscles have only some muscles involved and in harmony.
Once you know to develop power, internal athletic systems have
their own ways of developing continuity. Practicing the techniques
slowly makes all the movements better connected and get the whole
body working as one unit with the waist in the center. This involves
opening the hip joints and not losing neck power. The emphasis is on
the waist, with the waist continuing, not just the limbs continuing.
“The whole body has to work together.” The waist is like a spring
and can move in any direction. “This looks easy but it is very hard to
get. The techniques of the limbs are easy, but the internal strength has
to continue and this is difficult.”
3. Understanding the movements.
The athlete should practice the techniques so that they become a part
of the body language-- so the techniques come freely, naturally and automatically.
4. Strengthening the connective muscles (tissues).
“If you have power, you have to be able to issue that power maximally.
Then the muscles can function like a powerful whip. But if you throw power
out maximally with out strengthening the connective tissues, muscles could
be torn.” The connective muscles in the two shoulders and hips should be
strengthened to create a strong link to your power. You should be cautioned
against lifting weights, because that tends to shorten the connective tissues.
“It may be strong but it cannot throw out the force effectively because when
it goes out, the short muscle pulls back too short.”
Seven additional elements:
1. Heaviness. When you engage, you must be heavy.
Allow gravity to make you heavy but support yourself
through postural structure.
2. Snap. You must employ spring-shaking power. This
implies exploding power that is natural, similar to the
way a dog shakes off water. It should be done suddenly
and with speed.
3. Sticking. This means you have to change without losing
contact. “Once you have contact, you have to stick and be engaged.”
4. Looseness. You must be loose and not stiff, but you cannot
be so loose that you are like tofu; then there is not enough
structure. You should be loose, but still have steel inside.
If you are rigid, you will become like a zombie.
5. Wrapping. All parts of the body should be interlocking so
that the whole body becomes one unit. In any movement,
there must always be support and connection between the
muscles, like a support team with its army in the field.
6. Spiraling. Any movement has to be spiraling, not just
straight back and forth. Every part of the movement has
a spiral, from the earth on up.
7. Extension. There must be extension in all the joints. A lot
of people have knee problems because they don’t have
extension in their knees and hips and do not increase the
range of motion of the hips. People who have knee problems
put their power and weight on the knee and neglect to put
their weight on their hips. They must increase the hip range
of motion and their ankle flexibility. “These are the two keys.
Otherwise, the weight will go on the knee when it should be
back in the hips.” The knee will be kept empty of weight and
distress by using opposing strength— the strength goes into
the earth by pressing down on the foot, while at the same
time using the muscles above the knee to push in the other
direction toward the hip. That way the knee doesn’t take
any pressure. If a person has a good hip range of motion,
the hips will pull back the weight from the knee. Then because
there is extension in the knee, there will not be a knee problem.
The journey into “internal athletics” is predicated with the planet in your
stomach. Imagine the planet Earth, with its effortless axis spin, its graceful
and perfect symmetry, and its massively powerful gravitational force.
Now scale that planetary construct down to the size of something that
would fit inside your lower torso. The Chinese call this the Dan Tien.
There is no corresponding “part” of the body in Western science. Cut
open a human body, and you simply cannot find it. But in the internal
athletics, the planet Dan Tien is as real as the heart, the lungs or the
bones; if the Dan Tien is a planet, the limbs become its satellites,
smoothly but intensely following the Dan Tien’s gravitational energy.
If an athlete could control the axis, change the direction, and control
the speed of the Dan Tien, he or she would have far more control over
his or her entire body. This is why it is said that, “The waist is the lord
of the body, and the limbs are its servants.”
The masters of internal athletics say, “the root is in the feet.” And
everyone knows that balance is in the feet. But YOUR feet are week.
One of the reasons is that you sit far more than you stand or lay down.
If you stood more, your feet would be stronger (and your hips would
be more flexible). With stronger feet, you would be much better at
supporting the planet in your stomach.
This is only the beginning. This information is to pique your interest.
in internal athletics. The training methods of the internal athletics have
been developed over many thousands of years; so the most savvy
trainer cannot surmise what the methods are, how to practice them,
and especially, how to teach them. As another famous internal athletic
trainer once said, “If I don’t teach it to you, you cannot figure it out yourself.”
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