– Chief Instructor Brett Wagland
If you want to build a tall building, you first need to lay a good foundation. The same is true for internal martial arts. If you want to reap maximum benefits from your practice, you need to work on the basics.
One of the first things is to relax and loosen tensed muscles and joints. Since the shoulders, neck, spine and waist are some of the body’s weaknesses, they are targeted first in our training. The Arm Rotation exercise is one of the keys for loosening tension and increasing flexibility in those joints, especially the shoulders. The Arm Rotation is not merely a warm up exercise. It is one of the tools for reconditioning the body.
When students first commence training, they are taught a range of exercises. It is not necessary to do them all every day. It is better to focus on a few and do them well. Once you have a good understanding of a few of those exercises, you will appreciate the purposes of the other exercises. The Arm Rotation should be on the top of your priority list. You need to practise it for 5 minutes on each side. Begin with 2 minutes, then 3 minutes and then build up to 5 minutes.
In the beginning, do the Arm Rotation slowly, especially if you have any shoulder or neck injury. Then, speed up the movement while keeping your arm, especially your fingers, relaxed. After practising this way daily for two weeks, begin to use your waist to move your arm. Think of your arm as a piece of string with a stone attached to the end. As your shoulder begins to loosen up, you can increase the speed of the rotation. This will increase blood circulation to the arm, all the way to the finger tips. The tingling sensation or a swollen feeling in the fingers is a good indication of increased blood flow. As your practice of this exercise improves, bend your knees a little lower and make sure that your lower back is relaxed.
Most students will hear a crackling sound in their shoulders when they first do this exercise. This is usually due to the build up of calcification. Daily practice of this exercise will break down the calcification and allow it to dissolve into the blood stream.
If you practise the Arm Rotation daily for a month, you will feel the shoulders, the neck, the upper and lower back and the waist more relaxed and loosened. You will feel movement in the back muscles which you could not feel previously due to tension.
If you practise this one exercise correctly, you will notice a big difference in the feel of your body and the quality of your life. Furthermore, it will improve your ability to relax your body and lay a good foundation for your Wu Dao Gong training which in turn will lead to better health and well being.