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Supplemental & Traditional Exercises

The Earth Method of Mindfulness Martial Art Practice

Here you will find Supplemental exercises designed to teach classical internal martial principles.

You can follow the Lesson Plan or jump between lessons as you study other components. 

This is your practice. Presenting these lessons through the web allows you to develop your own rhythm of practice without artificial limits or structure.

Lesson Plan

Diagram of the Human Body for prop
While standing in Wuji Posture, your mind will probably fit the formless chaos definition of wuji; racing from thought to thought, but your body will be still; standing upright without moving. You want to stand until your mind is aware of your body, and clear from other thoughts.
Wuji Posture Featured Image
There is very little that can go wrong by standing in Wuji Posture. Some side effects that you may feel include stiff shoulders and neck (indicating that you need to reinforce your Wuji Posture practice with upper body exercise) tingling in the legs and feet (indicating that you need to walk more) and stiffness in the lower back (indicating that your back is probably holding you up and not your legs). When you feel uncomfortable, walk …
Holding the Moon Featured Image
Holding the Moon is a traditional posture for most Chinese internal martial arts. If you practice Holding the Moon before you are aware of your shoulder and hip alignment, however, you can reinforce bad posture. Therefore, a good way to learn the posture is lying on the floor.
The Yin Yang Posture
When standing in the Yin Yang Posture, you can imagine that the solid leg is heavy and downward seeking (Yin). While the open leg is light and floating upwards (Yang). Likewise, you can imagine that the solid leg is active and represents the solid Yang line, while the open leg is passive and represents the broken Yin line. I will call the solid leg the Yin leg, and the open leg the Yang leg.
Trinity Posture or San Ti Shi Right Style
San Ti Shi, or the Three Body Posture, combines the lessons of Wuji and Yin Yang Posture and integrates martial intent. In this posture, we divide the body into three sections that are further divided into three more sections. The primary division is the head, the hands, and the feet. We divide the head section into the head, the spine and the waist. We divide the hands section into the hands, the elbows, and the shoulders. We divide t…
Lying Bear Posture Featured Image
This posture will release the stress of the day, and I refer to it often. The idea is to release the tension in your lower back.
Deep Breathing featured image.
Until you can breathe deeply and slowly, it will be impossible for you to coordinate the internal and external harmonies into a unified practice. A good way to start breath practice is in the Bear Posture. Instead of holding your hands out to your sides, put the left hand on your lower abdomen and the right hand on your chest.
Finger Exercise featured image.
You use our hands all day, yet pay little attention to what they are doing. Studies that map parts of the human body to brain function draw pictures of the body that represent the relative size of each body part to brain function. These pictures show the hands huge compared to the rest of the body, with one hand being larger than the other. Bringing your hands into your conscious awareness is the point of this exercise.
Arm Circles Featured Image
One exercise that helps to strengthen and improve the shoulder range of motion is the traditional Arm Circle exercise.
Butterfly Posture featured image.
There are some crazy exercises to open the hips and regain flexibility in the pelvic girdle. Some of them involve a partner pushing or pulling legs to ever wider angles. Those just seem painful to me, and I should know, because I have tried some of them in the past. Here is an exercise that you can do lying on your stomach that will open and relax the hip joints without having to become a contortionist.
Featured image for The Turtle posture
Walking heel-to-toe seems natural enough, but that old enemy of sitting too much, can really interfere with your ability to put one foot in front of the other. The Turtle is a supplemental exercise for your taijiquan practice. It focuses on the feet and reminds you that the body generates internal power from the ground up.
Back Kick featured image.
Sitting disassociates the connection between the legs and the torso. The Back Kick is a powerful reminder that our legs need the torso to function well.
Push Up featured image.
No exercise engages the scapula, quite like the push up. For strengthening the arms, shoulders, and body core, nothing beats this traditional exercise. The push up also engages the serratus anterior muscle along your rib cage, the same muscle targeted in traditional standing postures with extended arms.
The Bellows featured image.
Breathing in is Yin, breathing out is Yang. When performing the martial forms, we associate breathing in with defensive movements, while we associate breathing out with offensive movements. In The Bellows, we coordinate breathing with movement while exercising the spine, shoulders, and hips.
The Bridge Featured Image
The Bridge is from a classic pose in Yoga. As you perform the Bridge Posture, pay attention to the connection of the body from the wrist to the ankles. The Bridge both opens the chest and stretches the hamstrings.
Hurdlers Stretch featured image
This is one of my favorite stretches. Start on your hands and knees as in the Bridge, but put the left foot in front of the right knee, with the heel touching the knee.
Forward Bend featured image.
We ignore our hips and waist more than we realize. Keeping your hips flexible seems obvious, but sitting too much, can really destroy your flexibility. Forward Bend is designed to open your hip joints and stretch your legs for Tai Chi or circle walking practice.
Floor Twist featured image.
The internal martial arts require a supple torso. The Floor Twist is an exercise to improve torso mobility.
The Frog featured image.
Related to the butterfly, the Frog posture opens your hips for internal martial art practice.
Foot Circles Featured Image
Walking heel-to-toe seems natural enough, but that old enemy of sitting too much can really interfere with your ability to put one foot in front of the other. What usually happens, is that one foot kicks out to the side and lands slightly on one side of the foot or the other. You will recognize this when one shoe wears excessively on one side. There are many exercise programs that will improve your gait, and I encourage you to explore …
Hip Lift featured image.
When I learned my left leg was one centimeter shorter than my right, the physical therapist recommended this exercise as one way to reengage the hip joint. In mindfulness martial arts, it reminds us that power is generated from the feet and transferred to to the torso, before it can be expressed in the hands. Lie on your back in proper Wuji Posture alignment, but extend your arms to the sides with your palms facing up. Pull the left fo…
Crunches featured image.
Here is another traditional exercise to strengthen your torso, and one of the most hated words in the English language, Crunches.
Horse Posture Featured Image
Traditional martial arts teach a low and wide stance called Ma Bu. My version of this stance develops leg strength without having to stand around all day.
The River Steps Featured Image
The River Steps (a.k.a. Ladder Stepping) provide a method to study the transition of your weight between the insubstantial and substantial legs.
Feet Walking up a pile of books Featured Image.
The supplemental exercises presented in the Earth component of the Earth Dragon Canon method gives you all tools you need for a lifetime of healthy practice. Taking advantage of these tools and using them regularly is a responsibility you must take seriously.
The Diagram for Qi Featured Image
I developed this set from a line in a Taijiquan classic text that says: “Power is generated by the feet, transferred through the legs, directed by the waist, and transmitted through the arms to the hands.”