There is much todo about the role or the Fascia - the sheath that surrounds our muscles and tendons in the body. Internal Strength training methods are proposed to develop the fascia into something that is far more functional than previously thought. Here are some thoughts by Aran and some links to articles.

See also Heal thy self and release tension which has links to foam rolling , a process that can help identify and then smooth the fascia as well as tension in the underlying structure.

  • Training principles for facial connective tissue............ by Robert Schleip

Pre amble by Aran Bright,
As the author is something of a legend in my field I feel compelled to defend his credentials, even though I agree that this essay is essentially theory based on what is developing into a fairly rigorous body of work.

Robert Schleip has basically pioneered research into fascia and is widely seen as the leading researcher in the area. Of importance was his discovery of smooth muscle like tissue that exists within fascia and over several minutes can change the tone of fascial tissue.

This body of research really only began about the end of last century and the journal it is published in only started in 1996, by memory. However the models of force conduction through fascia has lead to a rethinking of the kinetic power generation of the body. The combination of contractile with compressive with elastic goes some way to describing the incredible power exhibited by internal strength masters, especially considering the often lack of muscle tissue these guys have.

There have been many functions of the human body that have been described and demonstrated by martial artists and manual therapists that have been at best poorly explained by current scientific models. The proposed model by Schleip, IMO, goes some way to describing the mechanical properties behind internal strength training.

In short I recommend keeping an eye on this author's research as he is looking into an area that very few people have previously bothered to look.

This is really exciting for a number of reasons, the first is that it is describing the process to condition the fascial tissue, it should be noted that Schleip is doing this for the simple reason that the most common sports injuries occur to fascial tissue. He is not thinking of this from internal strength. I am not even sure if he knows about it?

The second reason is that his models articulates  a possible mechanism for how force generation and dissipation could occur in   the human body that I believe works better than current rigid structure model for the human body.

Without getting into too much detail, take a look at page 71 of the pdf. The diagram there summarises what I believe internal training is doing in terms of mechanisms within the body. Classical strength training is described in model 2, this is primarily the contractile mechanism of the myofibrils (muscle fibre). Plyometric training has been around for a while and involved pre-loading the muscle tendon to enhance muscular contraction. What is new about Schleip's (et. als) model is the use of fascia tissue in series with muscle fibers.

Below the diagram he describes the principles for fascial training and I cannot help but draw a parallel with the idea of “letting the technique do the work”. Especially point 2, “the ninja principle”, if we are to gain the most benefit from the elastic potential of the connective tissue working with muscular contraction we need to allow our movements to flow and not be inhibited by “noise”. Point 1 also has a parallel with the “store and release” or “popping” that we see in internal training (also known as Fajin).

I believe there is some solid gold in Schleip’s work in terms of understanding the mechanisms of internal training which may help later on define effective methods of training. 

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Dan James,
2 Feb 2014, 17:13