Sunday, June 12, 2011

Martial Arts Dilemma in solving the Compliance Tensor in Structure and Movement

The idea of solving the compliance tensor equations in connection with mechanical movement, much less solving the expression in real time movements in the internal martial arts, could be very difficult if not almost impossible. Right now you might be asking yourself why would anyone even waste their time trying to explore the complexities of Hooke’s Law of Elasticity with encountering strain and stress (F = -kx) as it relates to Wujifa, Internal Martial Arts, Taiji, or any martial art for that matter? What does this idea of “strain being directly proportional to stress” have to do with getting good at Gongfu? (For a detailed explanation of Hooke’s Law and Compliance Tensor, see the Wikipedia entry.)

Personally I believe that every serious practitioner spends much of their time working and training to kinesthetically solve or resolve issues with the answer to this equation as set forth by the tolerances of the principles of their art form to the compliance tensor equation in real time.

Solving the compliance tensor equations in real time requires you to leave the present moment and this is exactly my point. Yin and Yang, Five Element Theory, so on and so forth are simply gross ambiguities that may only make sense when applied to a very “specific equation” relative to a snap shot in time, I say that because the reality is constantly changing as you move and train.

Yes we can apply a Qin-na technique to a joint and watch it dislocate that joint in real time and say here is your real time answer to the compliance tensor for that joint of that person with that movement. At the same time as a practitioner, how do you notice, develop, refine, and train to make real and reproducible results at the highest level?

The method is not the truth once you get the feeling get rid of the method. At the same time I believe the same mindset, the close attention to details “as if” one were methodically solving the compliance tensor equation could be a good model or method. I would say go read about compliance tensor and Hooke’s Law and see if this doesn’t give you some idea of what the ambiguity of Qi flowing might really mean. Look at the vectors of force and how eccentric muscle movement and connective tissues spring to life. Look into the ways stress and strain can be directed and redirected to distort or load a system. Look back to your practice and see if the compliance tensor equation gives you any depth to how and why you train.


  1. Whoa! Dude! You're frying my brain!

    So you're saying the whole "Qi flow" thing is kind of a vague general label of what can actually can be explained scientifically with Hooke's Law of Elasticity?

    Fascinating but I don't even know where to begin!


    To me, it makes sense to link up the fascial areas. This article explains 3 ways that materials can react to stress - elastically, plastically, or they can break. The closer we can get to idealizing our body as an elastic structure, the less permanent deformation and breaking will occur as a result of incoming pressure. Then, after we establish an elastic system, increasing the "k" part of Hooke's Law will give us maximum force for each unit of displacement that occurs.

    I think your ideas are really cool here, Rick. It's good to see the way you think about these things. I'm worried about losing people with the fancy terminology... I didn't think we needed to medially rotate our femurs, In Wujifa, I believe you've always taught us that it's enough to widen our butts and turn in the thigh bone.

  3. Hello Dan,

    I agree with you about keeping things simple. Comparison Is a funny and sometimes a useful beast. My hope in writing this is to offer different functional insights to the dilemma we face when applying fundamental principles in martial arts or practices like Wujifa for example when teasing out functional movement in regards to that arts flavor.

    Vector fields and peng come to mind a more mystical way to think of vector fields could be how people think of qi and peng. 

    Another might be a weight on a spring and Hooke's law. The weight pulls on the spring in one directions while the spring has it's equal response in another. This may be another way of simple noticing the mystical dance of yin and yang.

    My hope is people look at the compliance tensor and Hooke's law and simply think for a minute. My hope is that maybe seeing how in Wujifa we aim to solve these kinds of responses with feeling alignment in the body and play with vectors and stress in real time and refine the feel of doing it more correctly.

    Different people learn in different ways and exploring some of these ideas may help certain people get an idea kinesthetically of ways they can get back to training.

    Confusion is a great first step to learning. I would love to hear your and others inputs and insights around this topic. As I look at these I see functional way of how in the west we explain what Qi, Peng, Yin and Yang are... I see as we start a the zero point and travel the different sides and expressions of a triangle we return to back to zero. 

    Sorry if I am having to much fun playing here... Different people learn in different ways. Hopefully in our sharing we can all learn more about ourselves and are arts.

  4. Gentlemen,

    I have forwarded to you several texts on Tensor Calculus. Please read them. Then lets go back to basics, KISS(keep it simple stupid) and make up! Knowing all parties concerned I understand that none of you will be attempting to write a mathematicly descriptive model of the human body.

    You can use smart words like vector, stress and strain, etc., if those around you want to listen. (Are you talking to me?)

    It appears that some students are attempting to learn Wujifa from an intellectual perspective and want to overcomplicate matters. I think that there is just a general lack the desire to practice. Rick, please dont feed the ducks!! I hate haveing all that poop in the pond.

    Personally, I am a Kinesthetic learner. I learn from doing. Since Wujifa is all about feeling..whoopeeee!!!!!!!!!!!

    If your interested in explaining elasticity and connection I suggest the purchase of some stretch bands from a store and spend a little time stretching them. Tie them to interesting parts of your body to more fully feel stress and strain under real life conditions.

    If your interested in Wujifa I suggest you practice.

    The majority of people I have discussed physical alignment and connection with in the last four years do not have a clue about what I am talking about. They often remark that me an my teachers (ie Rick) are a bit nutty. If I explain it in terms of keeping your body a certain way in order to affect a certain response, feeling or result they understand much better and think me and my teacher (ie Rick) are real smart guys.

    Lets talk about how it feels to be a turkey instead of talking turkey. After all, who understands a turkey except another turkey and how does a turkey know he is a turkey?

  5. Hey Boys,

    I saw this today and thought of all of you here and this post even more.

    "Taurus: You could be the missing link in an exciting equation today -- so get connected. Yahoo! Astrology."

    Sounded sooo much like tensors in the equation of Wujifa. Wujifa Is sooo cool. I am so happy there are blogs like this one. Everyone have a nice day :)

  6. When we define words the picture can become more clear. This post really got me thinking about my Wujifa practice in new ways.

    Compliance (physiological) a measure of the tendency of a hollow organ to resist recoil toward its original dimensions upon removal of a distending or compressing force. It is the reciprocal of "elastance".