In the 6DKF the construction of the iron palm is (as already mentioned) the result of a long process of improving, mental (concentration, etc.) and physical (conditoning, etc.); in short, we must treat the evolution of:
- A passive structure (hardening of the bones, muscles, etc.)
- An active structure (the control of breathing, Qi, etc.)
In this regard a proper iron palm research includes:
- Diluted exercises at regular intervals within our workout
- Progressive exercises (with eventual steps back)
- Reasonable recovery times for our hands
- Constant attention to what our body tells us
- Specific treatments of our skin with ointments and self-massage
- No period of inactivity for our hands (in advanced ages it can be dangerous)
A correct practice allows us to avoid:
- Chronic rheumatic pain (eg. at the variation of air humidity)
- To have an outer layer of calluses and skin deformations
- To lose tactile sensitivity
- The damage in a severe way bone, muscle, etc.
With this in mind we must establish a process of conditioning / strengthening aimed at specific goals through activities commensurate to our level; here are the different types of exercises essential to our purpose:
- Breaking / penetration / striking
- Tension / relaxation / resistance
- Concatenation / harmonization of movements
- Breathing and Qi Management
- Pain control, limitation and tolerance
Gradually we will see them all; in the next article we will see exercises combined with surfaces to be beaten.
Not without a bit 'of irony, we want to ask a question rather absurd: what would be the ability that "potentially" (brought to the highest level conceivable) could be sufficient (for an old man or a child) to win every kind of opponent?
We all know that each skill has its own percentual importance but we're at the game and we ignore these details to reflect:
- Strength. What can serve to have the ability to break the stone, bend steel or tear the most elastic fiber if we fail to employ this power on an opponent faster than us?
- Speed. What can serve the (alone) maximum muscolar speed if we are not able to cause serious damage to our opponent, if we are not in condition to avoid his attacks?
- Reflexes. What can serve the reflexes of a panther if we are not technically able to have consistent / reasoned reactions, technical reactions? Reflexes no means speed and furthermore they can always be fooled by a good technique.
- Technique. What can serve a good technique if we do not have reflexes, enough speed and power to bring it to target in full? A powerful and faster opponent would put us to our knees in moments.
What skills are we missing? Many, but one stands out over the others: spatial intelligence. Even with the force of a child or an old man, it always puts us to a higher level of attack and defense.
Prior to speed and reflexes, spatial intelligence allows us to understand where we are, where is our body, where are our opponents and especially where they want / can go.
Without wasting energy, who owns a perfect spatial intelligence can never be caught out and wait for the opponent's disadvantage to hit him with the minimum sufficient strength to prevail (the one that every healthy man / woman owns).
Of course there is much to contest in this simplistic and theoretical reasoning but it is not this that interests us, we are not inviting practitioners to stop development of all other skills to focus only on spatial intelligence.
The point we want to stress is that the absence of spatial intelligence developping is the weak point of the vast majority of today's martial arts workouts, this is that something that leads us to say that a style even after many years of study is not working, is not effective.
To obtain the fruit must grow the tree.
Alone spatial intelligence can not be coached, it borns in tiny droplets from the experience of years and years of painful practice, profound and daily. It must be our point of departure and arrival but by itself does not exist.
The combat effectiveness is given by the harmonic and consistent multiplicity of each skill and spatial intelligence is their ultimate nectar.
When we talk about muscle memory we refer to the capacity that our psychophysical system has to facilitate / accelerate certain movements.
To have a good muscle memory of a given technique therefore it means:
- To call up a complex movement instantly
- To act rapidly and in a coherent and effective way
- To do not engage the mind in building a useful motion
- To connect a ready response to an external stimulus (at the speed of our reflexes)
Muscle memory is both an advantage and a risk for a warrior:
- An advantage because it allows us to be fast and extremely effective
- A risk because all mnemonic movements can be known and therefore predictable by opponents
In this regard, in 6DKF muscle memory is used only in part and in particular in terms of instant defense as well as of qualitatively high mobility acquisition; the rest of the defense / counterattack / attack techniques is in the hands of reason, ability to improvise and adapt (more about that later).
However muscle memory is important and we need it to build fighting quality. The way is to practice the same movement over and over again, this at the same time will improve (in the context of the specific movement):
- Our body structure (muscles, flexibility, etc.)
- Our power and efficiency (in all situations)
- The distribution of our weight (in terms of balance and equilibrium)
- The trajectories (making us gain speed)
- The management of decisive details (Qi, muscle chain, etc.)
Of course there are no general exercise to build a good muscle memory in relation to a given technique / movement, however, there is a "method".
In 6DKF we do this:
- Execute the technique at a medium-low speed without regard to detail
- Execute the technique at a medium speed minding effectiveness but no details
- Execute the technique in a smooth and steady way but at the slowest possible speed
- Execute the technique at a high-speed without regard to detail
- Execute the technique at a very low speed healing every technical detail (flexibility, stability, Qi, muscle chain, etc.)
- Execute the technique with speed, power and complete attention to detail
- Execute the technique at medium speed, power, complete attention to detail and a target
- Execute the technique with full speed, power, complete attention to detail, an uncooperative moving target and various adverse situations / obstacles
It should all be repeated countless times with:
- An ever-active mind and concentrated
- The idea to improve, even slightly, compared to the previous time
- The idea of the technique to operate in the best way
- The idea of adapting the technique to our psychophysical system
- The idea of growth without end, always finding new possible difficulties
Discipline, concentration and preparation.
In the next article we will talk about how to make our mind and our limbs reach increasingly ambitious objectives.
Most martial arts (modern or traditional they are) tends to force the practitioner's body to a certain type of:
We saw 10 changes at the physical level, we see now, mentally, 12 examples of what changes in the life of a true 6DKF's...