In common physical exercise or athletic sport working muscles are just involved in a bending-stretching activity required in their movements which characterizes the First Kinetics of physical exercise, but have resting muscles contracting/relaxing as required in the First Kinetics of physical exercise.
Song is the Chinese character referring to muscle relaxation, Jin is the one for muscle contraction. Song/Jin happen when we are consciously ordering resting muscles to execute their contraction/relaxation cycles: this is in fact the training of higher mental functions in relation with the Central Nerve system that what Second Kinetics of P.E. is about. Second Kinetics of P.E. is the only way tested and validated over thousand of years from Ancient China to train and reinforce the higher mental functions. This training should progressively lead you to a fully refreshed, bright and concentrated mind.
Contraction/relaxation activity is a primary form of mental mind activity in ZZ. From the situation where all joints are maintaining their bending angle, you are in the best way to train more systematically each group of muscles. Later once you've built a solid basis, you can start "pull tightly tendon" activity, "pulling and hanging" activity, which are, although also other kinds of contraction/relaxation activity, but this time they are combining your whole body muscles into a unified contraction/relaxation process, like merging them into a unique muscle group training.
This kind of training is clearly more difficult than training of local muscles in contraction/relaxation activity, because we are concerned by internal "muscles dynamics" such contraction/relaxation amplitudes are smaller and smaller as you progress in your training. These unified contraction/relaxation exercises are only accessible in intermediate and advance level of Dachengquan.
V.3.1 PCR experimentation
PCR experimentation refers to experiment by yourself the Second
Kinetics of Physical exercise.
Experimentation implies to reach a clear distinction between First
Kinetics and Second Kinetics, the constant validation of resting muscles contraction abilities. For this purpose we will present below four types of experimentation:
Assuming sitting posture, the soles of both feet placed horizontally on the ground, you should have thigh with shank forming 90 degrees angle, during this time leg muscles are not involved in any strain, they should be soft and relaxed as in the complete opposite situation of ZZ where local muscles were contracting and stiff.
Sole and heel should not leave ground, knee should not moving upward and downward, just control mentally the shank muscles and order them to execute their one-contraction/one relaxation cycle. You should control accurately contraction frequency in three different PCR speed: fast, slow and sustained. You can palpate your muscles and feel how soft it is during relaxation and how hard it is during contraction.
As you are sitting on a chair, sole touching ground, heels leaving ground, shank is executing an upward/downward oscillation which is the simplest and lightest way to experiment PCR cycle (first Kinetics PE) where besides the external oscillation no real contraction is palpable or observable.
Now sole and heel are touching ground and should not leave ground, just use mental control to have shank muscle to execute PCR cycle but this time without any oscillation while staying being immovable. If you perform it well you can feel by touching your muscles in a stronger and more distinct contraction which is also observable by experienced practitioners: this is the expression of Second Kinetics PE).
Using mental control to get resting muscles contracting is an active and conscious activity in its highest degree. In the beginning it will be quite difficult to execute it correctly, as muscle doesn't answer to your mental order and it may seem impossible to use locally power. This shows you in fact the lack of mental/body harmony which almost anyone, without proper training, can expect. By persisting in daily practice, from series of ten or even hundred (until you are tired) during each session, you will reach a level where you can practice any series very easily and very freely.
Let's see now different of types of contraction/relaxation experimentation.
V.3.1.2 Thigh muscle contraction/relaxation experimentation Assume same posture as before. Place both palms on thighs, use mental control to execute thighs one-contraction/one-relaxation series. During this series you can use your hands to touch quadriceps and feel by yourself their contraction.
V.3.1.3 Buttock muscle contraction/relaxation experimentation Assume the same posture as previously. Place both hands on the two sides of buttock, use mental control to execute with buttock muscle series of one contraction/one relaxation. When you are contracting your buttock muscle, upper body can slightly raise, when relaxing it upper body can slightly descend. Both hands touching buttocks muscle to feel the change from hardness to softness during contraction/relaxation.
V.3.1.4 Combined contraction experimentation Assume the same posture. Use mental control to combine calf and thigh muscles in a same and simultaneous contraction series. Later you can even combine calf, thigh and buttock muscles for a combined contraction series. As you will experiment by yourself, the more muscles you are combining, the more difficult it is to contract them simultaneously.
In the beginning as you are just starting to combine them, you will notice some difficulties to perform it correctly, contractions are not perfect. You may have calf muscle contraction but no thigh muscle contraction or buttock muscle contraction but no calf muscle contraction; left leg muscle contraction but no right leg muscle contraction or one contracting before the other. After sufficient training, they will be able to contract simultaneously, at will: you've reached a higher mental/body harmony.
During Zhan zhuang, we can classify different levels of contraction/relaxation training though their anatomical/physiological implications requested and their increasing difficulties:
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