The term fa jin, or fa jing, is commonly used in Chinese martial arts to describe a method of striking with power. Fa means issuing; Jin means energy. Naturally, there are entire books related to this area of martial arts. I’ll discuss the physical mechanics of fa jin in this post, including the motion of the body, what’s required to perform it correctly, and why zhan zhuang is beneficial.
A Wave-like Motion
The motion of the body during fa jin is similar to an ocean wave. The heel is the “external factor” that initiates the wave-like motion by pressing against the ground and generating force. Each segment of the body (from foot to leg to hip, etc.) transfers the force through the soft tissue of the body, building momentum. At the point when the momentum is the greatest, the last segment (the hand, for example) strikes the target, the entire body tensing upon impact. The body then relaxes and returns to a balanced position, ready for the next strike or block. This last step is critical because it prevents you from overextending, and because it enables your body to immediately respond to the reaction of the target.
A Crucial Factor
Fa jin is a method of striking that relies on the body being relaxed, with the exception of the moment of impact, during the entire motion. In my experience, it’s best to start learning fa jin strikes only after your body has started to relax and your joints have started to open. It typically takes a year or two for your body to begin to relax and open. The reason it’s best to wait is because performing these strikes tends to create tension in the body and mind and, therefore, distract you from relaxing, which is ultimately what will allow this kind of strike to be effective. Overly focusing on fa jin strikes could lead you down the path of external martial arts where tension is encouraged in which case a different method is required. Conversely, not practicing fa jin strikes will not train you to deliver effective strikes.
Zhan Zhuang (Stance Training)
Zhan zhuang exercises can resolve many of the weaknesses that are experienced when training fa jin. Standing in postures from which strikes are delivered will allow you to become comfortable in those postures. It will align your body and enable maximum power to be delivered. It will increase the physical and energetic root between your foot and the ground. And, it will strengthen the connections between the segments of your body.
Like any technique in martial arts, fa jin takes time to become good at. You have to develop a relaxed and coordinated body. You also need to develop proper timing so that the force rolls up the body and into your opponent. Stance training can help prepare you for fa jin strikes.