Martial Arts Flow Theory, what I call Flux theory, is prevalent throughout all the arts. The problem is that most people don’t understand how these theories come together, and when they oppose. One must understand each type of energy and how they fit together if one is to be a complete martial artist.
One thing to remember, as we go through the theories, is that there is a hard and a soft to everything. Sometimes hard and soft is merely a distinction of direction, which is to say one collides or one guides. Sometimes the distinction is a little more difficult to follow, but we will do our best to illustrate the difference.
The first theory that most everybody comes in contact with is that of Explosive Power. You’re going to find this power in Karate, Taekwondo, or most any art (or piece of art) wherein the fist collides with the face.
We have circular energy, but there are a few things that should be known here. There is circular, as in turning the hops and waist in gung fu, and then there is circular, as in the harmony of Aikido. Obviously, we have a classic instance here of how one energy can be considered as hard or soft.
The next energy is spiral, as in Pa Kua Chang. This is a weird sort of energy, as it depends on circling limbs on a circling body. Weird or not, it is incredibly effective, simple to understand, but sometimes difficult to make work.
Now we come to suspended energy, as in Tai Chi Chuan. Interestingly, Tai Chi Chuan energy, in one sense, is simple weight lifting, but it is of the body, and one does not explode, but rather sustains the lift of the body, which creates a longer lasting and enduring type of energy. This type of energy is actually easy to understand, but, in an oddity of education, one has to either understand what the proponents of the art are saying in terms of western physics, or forget about it all together.
As you may notice, many arts develop more than one type of power, which can be good or bad, depending on how cleanly they understand the differences, and how to use them. That said, Taiji is one of the few arts that use negative energy. This is a rare energy, not many people develop it as it takes correct understanding of the concepts involved.
In conclusion, we have barely scratched the surface of the potentials of power, and there are not only many gradations, but whole types of energy which the future and hard work will reveal. Still, if you can understand these basic five types of power, define them exactly, and learn when and how to put them together, then you are off to a great start. Really, Martial Arts Flow Theory is where the fighting arts are going, for when you get the moves down, what is left but to expand your power potential?