Archive for the ‘Practical Method’ Category

“The most reasonable part in us is the part that does not reason.”- Tom Myers

The theory of Anatomy Trains, is an innovative relook at how the fascia integrates the coordination of multiple muscles in a single movement. In a simple way of describing fascia, the connective tissue that protects and wraps our muscles and organs, is in the relation to muscle movement would be as the plastic that wraps the electrical threads, muscle tissue, in wiring. The extracellular make up that lies outside the muscle tissue wraps it as a whole integrating a single movement instead of separate muscles working in a cascading chain of events as previously thought in physiology. For example the muscles of the entire arm could be likened to a chain of “sausage links” that can be moved together in a complete movement rather than one muscle activating another and then another and then another in response. The latter of course would not be an energy efficient system. These chains, or as noted as trains, are myofascial meridians and are likened to the the meridians in Chinese medicine. There are twelve trains, similarly like the 12 meridians in Chinese medicine, though, the connective trajectories along the body vary in various forms. I’m sure inspiration was drawn from Chinese medicine in this intuitive theory on how the body works. Though there is a lot of work going on at the moment in Anatomy Trains, the connections haven’t been proven in research or scientific studies. One can definitely see though the similarities in meridian theories and kinesio-therapeutics.

The twelve trains are,

The superficial front and back lines
The lateral line (2)
Spiral line
Superficial front arm Line
Superficial back arm line
Deep front arm line
Deep back arm line
Front functional line
Back functional line
Deep front line

These fascial line can demonstrate the kinetic movement of the body together or that of individual limbs in their directional movements.

So what does this have to do with Tai chi chuan?

In the integrative movements of the whole body while doing the form, one can see the coordination at work of these fascial lines.
One sees the movement lines and the stability lines as one performs a particular movement. Of course one could call the movement line as the Yang line, and the stability line as the Yin line.

These are some thoughts as I am progressing further through the form. In the next post, a break down of the arm lines and the movements of the negative and positive circles of the form will be discussed.


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I first encountered the Practical Method in the lonely winter of Japan, where I lived in rural Wakayama, with a Ukelele to strum the cold weather out. Japan has mild winters, though too cold to practice Tai ji, I turned to Youtube for hints and fascination. Having learned from Dr. Wu, many varying styles, I became interested in Chen, because it was the one I had the least exposure to, also it being said as the original form, I knew I had to learn it. Flipping through the channels of Chen, I encountered the prolific, Chen Zhong Hua, teaching from western pacific Canada. He was one who had broken down the old forms from its present flourished forms to a simple elegant dynamic force. His demonstrations are powerful and unique. One cannot but be amazed by the power of this beauty. At that time, he had a small youtube following with some blogs by fellow practitioners. Quickly his following grew, and his presence became international. I did buy his DVD of his form, but found it difficult to follow through. I left it on my back burner, as I came back home. Two years had passed, and again I remembered about that time that I was fascinated with this style, there had to be a practitioner back here in the states. Only finding a small group in Milwaukee, and one person in the far west suburbs, I tried to follow through it again, but failed miserably. In a strange coincidence of things some time later, a posting by a fellow acupuncturist, Yaron Sideman, who practices a form of Chinese Herbal Medicine that has a similar regional root, Huan Yuan, reminded me of the Practical Method. I reached out again, with my interwebs, and stumbled finally on someone, Spencer Jones, who recently had studied in China intensively the form, and lives in Chicago.
So far, its nothing like the Tai ji that I have learned, finding it a lot more rooted than any form I’ve done. I have only completed the first form, and I am eager to continue.

Spencer Jones teaches in Ukrainian Village, out of Bend Yoga on Damen.

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