Over many centuries, Chinese internal martial artists developed numerous skills for cultivating immense strength and formidable endurance, with or without the use of weights (as in weapons training).
Here are six of the most powerful qigong techniques for increasing your strength:
Whole books have been devoted to the power of standing postures to develop strength and energy. Crucial elements include: aligning the body correctly to minimize gravitational pull and optimize flow, the ability to remain relaxed while maintaining a low stance and correct abdominal breathing.
Central to this technique is the idea that we can employ an almost photosynthetic capability to “feed” ourselves by absorbing additional energy into our bodies from the external environment. The effect is similar to pumping up a car tire. The body becomes, with dedicated practice, highly buoyant and resilient. High-level practitioners are capable of “bouncing” strikes off their bodies. Absorbing techniques require great skill and perseverance in the use of attention to induce this phenomenon.
Creating a vibratory current
This is a very high-level practice for “upping the charge” in your body. Again, the skilled use of attention and extended practice are key, as you learn to vibrate energy backwards and forwards to promote higher intensity within your frame. The potential with this kind of technique is unlimited.
Qigong masters discovered that you can regulate strength in the body by creating greater pressure in the abdominal area. There are several methods used for “packing” extra pressure by compressing the breath in a forceful manner, while holding the stomach area very tight. The more you do this, the more strength you will be able to exert throughout your body.
Localized tension control
Once you have mastered compressed breathing and developed your attention skills, you can learn to shift your qi and “tension” into a very concentrated spot or area in your body. The training for this often involves specific movements or held postures that help direct energy to that area. Even vulnerable areas like the front of the throat can be trained in this manner. To illustrate this point, one of my teachers would use a palm strike to shatter a ballpoint pen lodged against his throat.
Internal martial artists figured out how to “load tension” into their muscles by deliberately twisting their bodies like coiled springs. This coiled position is either held for long periods or used as a preparation or transition for explosive action. Iron Shirt qigong uses this technique as do forms like The 18 Buddha Hands and The Five Animal Frolics.
Dragon Door author Pavel Tsatsouline gave a modern explanation of how elastic winding works in a past issue of Milo magazine:
“Muscular force is generated by actin and myosin filaments overlapping each other and forming cross-bridges…once the actin and myosin filaments have maximally overlapped, more tension can be realized by spiralling of the myosin filaments. A change in the length of the pitch of the actin helix may also boost force production during a very intense muscular contraction. Both processes can be compared to twisting a rubber band after it has fully contracted…it enables the muscle to store high amounts of elastic energy as the descending weight stretches the bands and the twists in the bands on the way down.”