Most people have never experienced integrated strength. Before meeting my teacher I had only heard stories and read historical accounts of people who had achieved the skill. With an athletic background that included extensive strength training and years of martial arts practice under my belt I was very skeptical of claims that there was something different out there, some type of strength I did not understand.
That skepticism was instantly replaced with surprise, bewilderment and an intense curiosity the first time I received just a small dose of integrated strength. In that moment my pride in my size and strength fell as I was helplessness tossed about causally and without effort. There was nothing I could do. I could not find anything to use my own strength against and cringed to think what could happen if my teacher had even the slightest intent to hurt me. I could not figure out what he was doing, how he was doing it and I ended up literally giggling each time he launched my off my feet into the arms of the human safety net he had arranged behind me.
Integrated strength feels acts and operates differently from ordinary strength. It’s different because it incorporates and concentrates ordinary strength in a way that allows a high percentage of a person’s strength capacity to be applied in unusual ways.
Consider a dead-lift. With proper training it’s not unusual for a person to dead-lift more than twice their own body weight. The weighted bar makes this possible by giving the body’s frame something to work against in a mechanically favorable arrangement. The weighted bar literally seals the frame into the ground and gives the lifter something to work against. Integrated strength works in a similar way except that it requires no weights; the frame is sealed within itself in six directions to allow the practitioner to apply a greater percentage of his or her strength potential to the task at hand.
Whatever the purpose, being able to apply a greater percentage of your strength is a significant advantage. Yi Chuan practice awakens integrated strength, develops it and helps the practitioner figure out how to apply it in a dynamic way.