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Coordination is an essential aspect of life. Not only hand-eye coordination, but coordination between different parts of the body. Two of the key areas that need coordination for exceling in sports like tennis, golf, bowling, hockey, even shot-put, is the waist and shoulders. Not only must the waist and shoulders coordinate their efforts for maximum power and torque, they must be supple. One of the best places I find specific exercises for things like this is within kung-fu training. In today’s video, my friend Tyler Rea will demonstrate a kung-fu “elbow” exercise that actually is for coordinating the waist and shoulders. Although it is used to develop self-defense techniques, a broader use exists when taken out of martial art context.
Waist and shoulder coordination
Lifting actions are used throughout the day. You pick up heavy bags of food or backpacks, lift objects and in sport the upward lifting angle is used in to throw balls, swing rackets and in thrusting actions. It is important, therefore, that the shoulder is strong, toned and powerful.
Twisting actions usually originate from the waist; that is, some combined coordination of the hips and pelvis rotating left or right. Low back pain is often caused when there is tightness in the muscles and ligaments of the lower back, which is really the area of the waist, hips and pelvis.
From a purely mechanical perspective the shoulders and waist manifest the structure and alignment of a beveled gear system. This bevel gear system and structure is composed of two rotational axes. The first axis is that of the waist and the second is that of the shoulders.
Learning how to train to coordinate them is a good way to develop power and stability in the areas and for sports, exercise or other actions wherein a twist and lift are needed. The kung-fu exercise demonstrated in today’s video will show you a simple way to do this. Martial artists believe that if you need to apply your body in certain ways, then you should train it to move in those ways, and not just do them as a second thought. By training for the specific need, injury risk is reduced while strength and stability are increased.
Rising dragon elbow exercise
The rising dragon elbow exercise (known as Tai Long Jarn) develops differential rotation for core strength and flexibility, and coordination between the waist and shoulders.
To do this simple exercise, stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees bent. Raise one arm up along your center line, contouring the body. Let the arm ascend to the level of the face, palm facing upward. Alternate this movement on right and left sides. As one arm ascends vertically, the other descends with an outward and downward arc, like a scoop. This aids in coordination, rotation, and range of motion. Turn to the left while raising the right elbow, then turn to the right while raising the left elbow. Repeat slowly and steadily, and overtime increase the rate and duration to increase endurance.