We have all heard of the saying “speed is relative, time is relative”. In quantum physics and science fiction, this is relavent and true. However, could the saying “Soft is Hard” also be realistic in Chinese martial arts (kung fu)?
In the law of physics, hardness of an alloy makes the material more cripy and can be easily cracked (such as glass), tensile strength on the otherhand allows objects to be bent stretched and absorb energy (such as gold). In internal kung fu such as Baguazhang, Tai chi or xingyiquan, tensile strength is what practitioners needs to master. On the other hand, exterior kung fu styles tend to focus more on hardness by using practicing techniques that increase the density of human bones and toughness of skin.
How does tensile strength translate to power in internal kung fu? I am certain that many of you have operated a garden hose, when tap is on and the hose is filled with water, the hose can swing wildly with force, and if you got slapped by this hose, it certainly hurts. This is equalavent of human arm filled with Qi. The same concept can be allied for whips, it hurts because of tensile strength.
Aside from tensile strength, internal kung fu needs the practioner to focus their entire body to a single point. This can only be achieved by using the body as one, through spiral energy (can be found when practicing Tai chi, Bagua and Xinyiquan), the body becomes turning wheels at every moving joints, from finger to arm to shoulders to chest, belly, waist and beyond.
Another visualization of soft is hard concept can be explained with momentum. Throwing away physics jargons, momentum is continous energy, like a truck moving at only 10miles per hour can still crush a living person with this continous force. Momentum is the type of energy that is hard to block and absorb in kung fu combats.
Having said all the above, where does soft is harder come in? In western style of combat training, one of the major part of the training process is building muscles. However, in internal Kung Fu, the most important thing is relax. It is the essense of being relaxed that can create more fighting power.
How can relaxed create power? This concept can be explained by you imagining a 30 pound metal the size of a human arm free droping under the gravity from a distance of 6 foot from the ground. The free drop is surely going to create a dent and a load sound on a wooden floor. Now, how hard a hit can be if one throws the heavy arm and the arm hits the opponent under Earth’s own gravity and acceleration? This concept can be extended further, a true internal Kung Fu master can focus the weight of an entire body onto the arm and throw it at the opponent under natural gravity. Furthur move, more spiral energy consolidated from hundred of joints in the body add to power of the blow under the force of gravity.
There is no escape from a true internal Kung Fu master, they can land KO blows that has weights over 1000 pounds. More amazingly, this achieve this by practicing how to become softer. To learn internal kung fu, visit this website.