Style: Internal Power Set

This Internal Power Set is a non-traditional set exclusive to the Earth Dragon Canon Method of Mindfulness Practice. Assembled from years of internal martial art training, it assembles some common exercises into a complete warm-up routine for your practice.

Internal Power Set

The Diagram for Qi Featured Image

In classical internal martial art practice, there are several Qigong sets designed to teach internal power. Mostly, these are stretching, massage, and breathing exercises designed to develop or transport Qi throughout the body.

On my personal journey, I discovered that there was not enough movement in those exercises to prevent my hip pain. From that pain, however, a pearl developed. My pain forced me to explore outside traditional internal martial art routines to improve my physical fitness. From that exploration, I developed the following Internal Power Set.

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.”

Internal Power Set Exercises

Perform these exercises in this order.

  1. Arm Circles
  2. Butterfly
  3. The Turtle
  4. Back Kick
  5. Push Up
  6. The Bellows
  7. Bridge
  8. Hurdlers Stretch
  9. Forward Bend
  10. Floor Twist
  11. Frog
  12. Foot Circles
  13. Hip Lift
  14. Crunches
  15. Horse Posture

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Horse Posture

Horse Posture Featured Image

Traditional internal martial art teaching includes a low and wide stance known as Ma Bu, or Horse Stance. This stance develops leg strength, or rootedness. In the Earth Dragon Canon method, we abandon wide and deep stances for proper alignment and function. This does not mean we can abandon leg strength.

We need a posture that can engage our leg muscles functionally without dedicating hours to just standing around. My version of the Horse Posture is like the Bear Posture, but against a wall and standing up.

Find a sturdy wall and stand with your heels, buttocks, back, and head against it.

Preparation for Horse Posture.
Preparation for Horse Posture.

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Crunches

Crunches featured image.

The Standing Palm practice is a traditional internal martial art method to build strength in the torso. Here is another traditional exercise to strengthen your torso, and one of the most hated words in the English language, Crunches.

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Foot Circles

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 those.

Foot circles are a staple of many exercise programs. I do mine lying on the floor.

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The Frog

The Frog featured image.

The Frog is like the Butterfly, but on your back. The principle is the same; to open your hips without extreme stretching or pain.

Lie on your back in Wuji Posture, extending your arms to the sides. Raise the legs so the feet are about where your knees were. Push the soles of the feet together and let your knees open up like butterfly wings. Look at the ceiling and old for one to three minutes before straightening the legs.

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Floor Twist

Floor Twist featured image.

Turning at the torso is not something we do every day. As your attention improves through your martial art practice, you will notice most people are as stiff as board in their torso area. Most of this is angst, some of it is disfunction. The internal martial arts require a supple torso. As you progress through baguazhang or taijiquan postures, you will notice a difference in your overall agility and balance as your torso loosens. The Floor Twist is your first step to softening the torso and is one of my favorite exercises. It has made a significant difference in my overall health.

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Forward Bend

Forward Bend featured image.

This one may make your hips pop; it is great after sitting too long, and essential before you start any physical activity. You can perform it simply by using a chair or bench to supplement the exercise, or you can extend the stretch by engaging the legs individually.

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Bridge

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.

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The Bellows

The Bellows featured image.

Breathing in is Yin, breathing out is Yang. When performing internal martial art 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.

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Push Ups

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.

Lie flat on your stomach with your head and nose touching the floor. Place your hands next to your shoulder blades, with your thumbs touching your shoulders.

Front view of Push Up preparation posture.

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Back Kick

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.

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The Turtle

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.

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Butterfly

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.

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Arm Circles

Arm Circles Featured Image

Most people sit more than they should. The result is that the shoulders give up on their normal function and allow the large muscles along the back and hips to take over. You recognize this as a slouch. In mindfulness martial art practice, it means the root of the arms is not functioning. Without restoring that root, your hands are useless. This exercise works on strengthening the muscles of the upper back and reengaging the shoulder. Arm Circles help to strengthen and improve the shoulder range of motion.

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