It's been a while, so I thought I'd get back into the 72 Arts for you guys!
#32: Exercise "Soft Bones" (Rou Gu Gong)- This training is relatively simple and is centered around flexibility. The first stage of the training utilizes a dynamic kicking motion. The kicking leg is kept straight and swung up in front of your body as high as it will comfortably go. Don't push yourself to the point of injury. You should do 100 kicks on each leg in the morning and evening. You can do them in a row on each leg or alternate legs in a kind of walking motion. After a year of training, the first stage of training will be complete.
The second stage is working on splits. The exercise is called "Bench Facing the Sky." Your supporting leg will be straight and you will lift your other leg as high as you can in front of you. After you cannot raise it anymore, pull your leg up with your arms as high as you can. At the end of the movement, you should be standing up straight, your raised leg flat against your chest and the sole of your foot facing the sky and near your ear. Train both of your legs in this fashion. The author doesn't give a time limit or number of sets for the training, so I suggest holding the position for no more than 2 minutes at a time and alternate your legs in this training. I would spend anywhere from 15-30 minutes on this training, depending on your soreness from other training. The author says that after several months, you should be able to start training for a split.
For a front split and a side split, you will spread your feet out as far as they will go on either the front or the side and the lower yourself as far as possible, keeping your upper body vertical all the while. When you are able to completely lower yourself into both positions, you'll focus on staying in the position for up to 30 minutes at a time. After you are able to hold these positions for these extended periods with your body vertical, you'll focus on lowering yourself into a bridge position from standing. You'll bend backwards and place both palms on the ground and stay in this position for a while. You'll also begin bending your body at the waist from side to side, in order to increase the flexibility of your upper body. The author says you'll be able to "roll yourself up into a ball in a lying position." You can also warm up your body with a hot cloth or a warm bath before training.
#33: Exercise "Frog" (Hama Gong)
The author calls this "Lifting a Stone Block." It's actually not described very well, in my opinion, and that might be due to the author or the translator. Either way, this one is a little vague. I'm going to try my best to give you my understanding of it. It appears that you will try to lift a stone block, in between your hands, off the ground for many repetitions. Like, a cinder block for instance or even an atlas stone. You'll start with 30 or 40lbs and work your way up once you can lift that weight, as the author says, "without appreciable effort." You can lift it like a Deadlift or Squat Clean or Clean and Press. I'm giving some leeway in that. He says when you can lift 100-110lbs "without appreciable effort", you can move to the next stage of the exercise, which does not include any apparatus. I would be hesitant to completely eliminate your previous training, so I would still utilize the 100-110lbs for your lifting.
The next stage of the training, starts with the hands, wrists, and forearms. You will clench your fists together and squeeze the muscles in those three areas with maximal effort and then release a short while later. You will then clench your fists with the backs of your fists facing the ground and tighten your arms and the neck and head muscles. Next is your shoulders. Then pull your shoulders back and tighten your chest. You should train in this order until you gain the ability to fully contract all the muscles of your arms, shoulders, neck, and chest with maximal effort on command numerous times (I wish the author was a little more specific sometimes).
The next stage is training your midsection by contracting your core muscles on every side with maximal effort. I imagine that the core training is in addition to the the upper body training. The last stage of the training is merely staying in the horse riding stance for extended periods of time, while practicing "concentrating force" in various parts of your body, which is squeezing the muscles as previously indicated. The author says that this ability will make you capable of repelling blows by "concentrating force" into areas of your body upon impact.
#34: Exercise "Piercing the Curtain" (Chuan Lian Gong)
This training is about acrobatics and leaping. The first stage of this training involves leaping from about 20ft over a long pit filled with about 4 feet of sand. There is a stake driven in each corner of the pit, with a net of thick cords draped about 2 feet above the sand. It appears as though you will squat down and leap with your hands out in front of you, almost like Superman in flight, over the pit and land in the net. This is kind of crazy to me, so if you get wild enough to try it, be very careful and make sure you have safety equipment. I wouldn't really recommend this one, myself.
The next stage is placing a plank (like a 2 x 4) at about 40 inches high in between two poles. This should be placed in front of the pit from the previous stage. You'll start about 20-30 feet away from the plank, start running and leap over the plank in a completely horizontal fashion, like in the previous training. After you are able to leap over the plank with relative ease, you should replace the plank with a board about 2-3 feet wide, so you have more to clear in your horizontal leap. After you are able to do this, you should encircle the board with a circular frame so that you have to jump straight through, instead of just jumping high. You'll be "piercing" through the center (thus the name) and you'll add additional frames as you get better at flying through the section until you get to 6 or 7 frames. The author also mentions something about adding knives to the inside of the frames but DO NOT DO THAT! No, seriously, that's like the least intelligent thing I've seen this guy say. If you screw up once, you're done for good!
In general this skill would be good for an acrobatic feat of leaping through a small hole as straight as possible or through a window without breaking the glass or hurting yourself. However, it's kind of a dangerous training.
That's all for today! Until next time, good luck and train hard!
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