The Internal Principles of Abakada

In my previous post I wrote about Abakada.

What I left out is that Abakada is a good exercise for learning and discovering the physics that we commonly think of as associated with the internal arts.

Here is how I look at it – whether you want to classify your art as internal or external is irrelevant to the question of optimizing body motion for the purpose of speed, power and change in the application of techniques.

It is because different practitioners have different beliefs, viewpoints and understanding that we end up with different models. But if you cast aside the whole style / system argument and just examine the question as one of how to move then you will probably find more consensus than disagreements.

For this reason I prefer to look at books on physics, biomechanics and anatomy cause they are martial arts style free. What matters is that they talk about the body in motion rather than the “my style is better than your style” argument.

What do you find in internal arts that you will also find in Abakada?

Hand leads the body, body leads the hand is a common internal arts principle. In Chen style Tai Chi they say that the first routine is body leads hand and in the second routine the hand leads the body. In Yang style we do both separately at first. Once your practice reach a certain level of skill you will find that you can do both within the same technique.

In Abakada strike number 10 is an example of stick (or sword) leads the body at first then body takes over and lead the stick. Why is it this way?

To move fast the hand (or stick or sword) must lead the body which is what happens at the beginning of the movement. However, to generate power one must use the waist / hip / legs. So towards the end of strike number 10 the body takes over and does a gravitional drop to generate power for the downward slashing motion.

In Chen style Tai Chi this is normally done as a stomping motion. In Yang style our stomping motion is very subtle which is why you can’t really see it. In many versions of Abakada this is performed as a body drop via a squatting motion.

Since I practice stomping in my Yang style I do this as a stomping motion, however, I do not stomp the ground hard. Instead, I use what looks like a stomping action to create an accelerated downward motion. Depending on how I manage the time lag between the movement of the waist, upper body and arm it can either be like a chopping movement or a whipping motion.

The other motion that is used a lot in Abakada is opening and closing of the body. When we do Abakada we have a motion of the hand holding the stick and a motion of the other empty hand. If I practice Abakada at a much slower pace then this opening and closing will be obvious particularly in strike number 7 and 9.

A lesser motion is that of the spiral which is quite obvious in strike number 8. If you take away the stick strike number 8 would resemble Xingyi’s Heng Quan.

Strike number 11 and 12 highlights the use of momentum by massing the body, moving the different parts and stopping the body at the same time. To make the movement stronger for strike number 11 we add a sudden acceleration towards the end of the movement.

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