You hear a lot about how kung fu styles, both internal and external, focus on building tendon power.
We find that while many practitioners talk about tendon power and have some concept of how to build the tendons, the idea continues to be vague and unclear (especially when it’s being taught). The result is that the practitioner’s development and execution of tendon power is less that what it could be.
Like so many concepts, clarity is key.
In order to safely and effectively use tendon power, you have to build and condition the tendons. Ideally this kind of work goes through the whole body and not just the arms and legs.
The basic idea for accomplishing this is to create a twist (also called a spiral) that runs through the whole body. You can see this twist idea in arts like wing chun, shaolin, xing yi, and bagua.
Picture the basic stance for these arts (and basically any kung fu). You’ll notice that the position has a wrapped, torqued twist running through the body. This is the tendon work. Holding these stances and positions is a basic way to build tendon strength.
So why work the tendons so much? What’s the power advantage tendon strength has over large muscles?
Picture a soaking wet bath towel. If you were to pick up this towel and wring out the water by twisting it, you’ll notice there is a point at which you can’t continue to twist. That’s because the twisting has condensed the towel to a point of maximum density.
This is the same idea as what happens in the body with tendon work. When the body has this twist running through it, the body becomes very condensed and hard. This is one way that, let’s say a xing yi practitioner, can feel like steel. The body becomes extremely dense from the wrapping of the tendons. This twist has to be trained throughout the whole body however. Just like tension in a tai chi practitioner, any place where the twist isn’t happening will be a weak spot.
There’s another major benefit to tendons though, and that is that they explode.
Picture that you were wringing out a really thick bungee cord the same way you would a towel. What happens when you release the twist?
The cord violently explodes out of its position.
See where this is going?
If you’ve ever watched internal masters explode with a strike and wondered how they were getting this quality, explosion through releasing wrapped tendons is one answer.
Here is one example of how this tendon building and these principles of spiral are used in Wing Chun.
Kuntao Silat and the other arts we practice use these principles in much more dynamic ways and take them to much more advanced places.
If you’re interested in developing this explosive tendon power, Clear’s Knockout Striking package has training that will show you how to develop this skill. You will learn how to correctly position yourself and create this tendon spiral throughout the body so that you can explode into your strikes (along with lots of other fantastic power principles for generating serious power).
The Knockout Striking Package will be on sale May 24th – 26th.
Take your time when working on building your tendons the same way you if you started serious jogging or weight lifting. Just like anything else, they will need some time to adjust to the work you’re putting them through.