One of my biggest struggles is developing physical strength. I’ve been quite obsessed over it because no matter how hard I’ve trained my body doesn’t seem to want to strengthen and build visible muscles!
Yet I still manage to keep up with the men in my kung fu class – I train in a very ‘external’ and ‘hard’ form of kung fu, where the emphasis is on body conditioning. And we’ve really stepped this up lately. (Naturally I’ve found myself the only female in the class for the majority of over ten years!)
Last night I was punched and elbowed in my gut – on purpose (body conditioning) – one blow after the other with the same force used on the guy next to me.
Trust me, no one in that class knows how hard it is for a (petite and sensitive) woman to endure this! Yet, I’ve come away with no injury or bruise, no pain.
How is this possible?
Another instructor from my kickboxing class recently and coincidentally mentioned what differentiates martial artists from the average person – “Strength is all internal” he said. “Without your internal force, your physical training is for nothing!”
I too guarantee this.
During the several years I was in a toxic relationship with a Narcissist, I wasted precious time not focussing on developing my internal energy, ‘chi’, which is the very same concept as ‘prana-shakti’ in the Indian tradition. Disembodied and distracted with the chi being sucked right out of me by an emotional vampire, my on and off martial arts training, as you could imagine, had little effect.
Thankfully because of my detour lately in changing my morning yoga practice to qigong, I’ve started to build up my internal energy quickly again. Both are good practices, but when combined, I find my power and vitality or ‘shakti’ increases.
In the moments last night of being repeatedly hit with a trained punch and elbow strike, I utilised another source of strength – my spirit. My instructor always points out the glow in my eyes when I am executing movements in full presence of myself.
Real kung fu is when you are awake to your spirit.
True strength is internal. It is your connection to your breath (prana), your connection to the ‘universal force’ (shakti) – something bigger than yourself – that gives you your innate power.
If you’re looking to build up your physical stamina through internal strength training I recommend practicing Zhan Zhuang for five minutes a day. This is a Daoist stance training which increases vitality.
If you’re a sensitive soul on a quest for self-transformation and healing then join my private Facebook group Warrior Training for the Sensitive Soul.