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How is the force of a punch generated?

There are various methods to obtain force in martial arts, but they can be summarized into three main types: static force, dynamic force, and a combination of both static and dynamic force. For example, Muay Thai and boxing belong to the dynamic force type, while Tai Chi, Xingyi Quan, and Baguazhang belong to the static force type and the combination of static and dynamic force. Of course, the distinction between dynamic and static force is not absolute; it simply refers to the emphasis on either dynamic or static aspects in the pursuit of force, resulting in distinct training styles and technical characteristics.

1. The Way to Obtain Dynamic Force

All combat techniques emphasize the importance of power, speed, and reaction. For instance, in boxing training, power is generated through exercises like hitting sandbags, throwing solid balls, weighted squats, abdominal muscle training, lifting and carrying weights, etc. To convert this foundational strength into striking force, the training includes techniques such as striking focus mitts, hitting speed balls, shadowboxing, combinations of punches, etc. The most thrilling moments in boxing matches usually involve knockdowns by powerful punches, which encompass various factors like strength, timing, striking area, tactics, and mental qualities. Among these factors, strength (or power) plays a decisive role. The qualities of a boxer are often demonstrated in the following aspects: 1) the force of heavy punches, 2) the ability to throw consecutive punches, 3) punch speed and accuracy, 4) footwork and resilience against strikes, 5) tactics and techniques, and 6) willpower.

In boxing, upper body strength assists in generating force, but leg strength is crucial for initiating and accelerating movements. Pivoting on the back leg is the key to generating force in boxing. Knee extension power is a core component of overall strength, making squats a fundamental exercise in boxing training. Squats not only build strength but also ensure the smooth transmission of force. Half squats are the best way to simulate the force generation in boxing. Leg raises improve core strength effectively, facilitating the transmission of core strength from the lower body to the upper body.

2. The Way to Obtain Force through a Combination of Dynamic and Static Force

This type is exemplified by Tai Chi, with its characteristic emphasis on being “light and agile” in form and “mind leads bone and flesh” in essence. It emphasizes softness as the essence and the interplay of Yin and Yang as the foundation. It emphasizes the existence of emptiness and substance in every aspect and maintains connectivity throughout the body. The joints should be relaxed, while the skin and hair should be vigilant. The force is directed from the mind, not from physical exertion. If force is used, it becomes stagnant. It is formless and shapeless, permeating the entire body. Force is sought in movement, and Qi is sought in stillness. Extreme softness leads to extreme firmness. The mind, intention, and body are unified, and the body guides the Qi, and the Qi moves the body. Intent is used without exertion of physical strength. Characteristic techniques include stillness in action, yielding to overcome the opponent’s force, striking without force, the harmony of Yin and Yang, and using subtle force to defeat the strong. It involves sacrificing oneself to control the opponent, leading the opponent to empty space, and using the opponent’s force to redirect and neutralize.

According to the “Martial Art Classic,” Tai Chi is the embodiment of “Infinite Tai Chi emerges from nothingness, the mother of Yin and Yang, the interplay of movement and stillness.” Since Tai Chi seeks force through movement, it is difficult for outsiders to grasp without direct transmission from a master, thus giving rise to the saying, “Ten years of Tai Chi without leaving the door.”

3. The Way to Obtain Static Force

Internal force is also known as whole-body force, boxing force, or internal strength. Standing in a fixed posture is the most direct, simple, and rapid way to obtain internal force. Any static posture that seeks force can be considered standing in a fixed posture. By maintaining the same force in dynamic movements, one can apply and enhance internal force in practice. The ability to perceive internal force through movement and its application in practical combat are the core contents of all internal force training.

There are various forms of standing postures, each style having its own unique standing posture. However, they can be divided into two general types: upright standing and side-standing postures. Regardless of the specific posture, the goal is to seek internal force. Expanding the shoulders and opening the hips are crucial parts of internal force training. Opening the shoulders involves expanding the shoulder joints, especially the scapula, through specific movements to strengthen the tendons and ligaments in that area. The first layer of training in “Dan Jin Dao” is called “Turning the Spinning Wheel,” while the second layer is called “Active Spinning to Generate Force,” both of which focus on opening the shoulders. Opening the hips involves widening the joint gap between the pubic bone and the ischial tuberosity to increase the range of motion. The hip joint is critical for adjusting the movements of the waist and legs. The explosive release of internal force refers to the ability to bring together the strength of tendons and bones, energy, and gravity in the shortest amount of time. Energy behaves like electricity, and tendons act as fast-conducting wires to transmit energy through oscillations and vibrations in the tissue, maintaining relaxation and unimpeded transmission from one end to the other. The connection of tendon strength is coordinated, achieving energy conversion and release.

How to seek force in standing postures?

Correct standing posture has its essence; it is not merely about assuming a posture. Force is the essence of the posture, meaning that the standing posture must contain force to be meaningful and effective in practice. Beginners can find internal force through the following steps:

1. Stand with both feet shoulder-width apart and perform a few jumping actions. Focus on the structural state of the body’s waist and hips during the moment of jumping and landing, and fix this structural state to recognize the internal force.

2. Squat with weight and experience the state of resisting while squatting. This natural strength in the abdomen, waist, and back is the body’s state required for standing postures.

3. Hold a container filled with water and feel the force transmitted from the arms to the waist when holding it. Then, release the container, keeping both hands empty, and search for the feeling of holding the container. This is the internal force that the upper limbs need to find—loose but unyielding.

4. Imagine there is a hook at the top of the head, and the top of the head is suspended, guiding the force upward. The trick is to retract the chin to elevate the neck and head. Experience the state of the neck on the pillow during sleep, which is the most natural state of the neck.

5. Check if the force is correct in the standing posture. Follow the above four steps to perform a “Hunyuan Zhuang” (embracing the ball stance) and then jump up and down directly. If the posture remains intact, and the internal force remains unchanged, it is the correct whole-body force standing posture. This requirement can be applied to various standing posture training. Whole-body force is the essence of standing postures, and the key is to unify the five centers to the source,

 directing the force of the head, hands, feet, and heart towards the dantian (the source of force). The third level of training in “Dan Jin Dao” explains this internal force principle in detail.

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