Anatomically there are three main planes of the body. These are imaginary flat surfaces that pass through the body and help us differentiate upper from lower, back from front and side to side
These three main planes are
The frontal plane, divides the body into front and back (anterior and posterior).
The horizontal or transverse plane, which divides the body from top to bottom (superior and inferior portions)
The mid-sagittal plane, divides the body into equal right and left halves (this plane represents the Mid-Line.
The mid-sagittal or Mid-line plane is the subject of this article. Imagine a thin, three foot wide by six foot tall sheet of ‘magic’ glass we will use as our dividing tool. Facing the edge of the glass step forward and allow the magic glass to pass through you from top to bottom dividing you evenly into left and right halves. The mid line created by the glass represents the mid-sagittal or mid-line plane.
The importance of Mid-line learning
I have trained for over forty years in various martial arts systems and in that time the most impactful teacher I have had was Master Randy Miskech. In addition to holding the highest rank possible in Korean Tae Kwon Do (seventh degree black belt), Mr. Miskech has a Masters degree in Physical Education.
As an instructor, Mr. Miskech would take one Tae Kwon Do movement and teach it progressively. That means that a single movement was broken down into many smaller motions. Most movements (if not all) had a chamber position (starting point) and an execution position (stopping point). Within this structure lies what he called the method of the mid-line. Most blocks, punches, and kicks cross the mid-line point of the body (mid-sagittal plane). Many times these movements are set to opposite sides of the body. That is, in order to perform a right low defense block I am required to place my right hand across the mid-line to my left ear, (the right hand must first cross the mid-line of the body) to be in the proper chamber position. Then, during the execution phase the hand again passes downward and to the right of the body through the mid-line to finish in the proper execution position.
Each block, punch and kick requires conscious thought to start and stop in the right position and each movement is then mirrored to match its opposite.
All Asian martial arts as well as boxing and to some degree fencing consistently rely on the focused intent of crossing the midline of the body.
Until recently we did not know that crossing the mid-line forces your brain to ‘rewire’ itself to compensate for the confusion of the movement.
Studies have shown that the percental gyrus of the frontal lobe of the brain, controlling the primary motor functions of the body, must produce neurons and create new neural pathways to compensate for cross-midline movements. Science and technology meet 2000 year old training methods.
To summarize, the more you force your limbs to cross the mid-line plane to a focused end, the more neural pathways your brain will create to compensate for the ‘confusion’ of the movement. More neural pathways will translate to better defined movement, improved motor skill development and increased cognitive capacity. Essentially, it is fitness training for your brain.
‘It has been scientifically substantiated that your brain produces more neurons and creates neural pathways that expand your ability to move and process information. This production of neurons is a direct result of activities that requires the one to consciously cross the mid-sagittal plane (mid-line) of the body.
For thousands of years, masters knew the benefits of martial training, however, all or most of the growth was attributed to self-discipline. Another way it had been described is that repetition created focus. Now we have evidence and a name for that focus, it is what has been come to be known as Mid-Line Training.
Recently, Neurologists have seen evidence that when the body is placed in a situation that forces it to cross the mid-sagittal plane (mid-line) the brain develops new neural pathways to deal with the confusion of the movement and have begun prescribing boxing training to patients with Parkinson’s and mild forms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
One of the martial arts that can be of particular benefit on many levels partially because of its crossing mind-line movements is Tai Chi Chuan.
Tai Chi is a form of exercise that utilizes visualization, breath control, posture and movement to systematically organize and orchestrate the various functions of tissues and organs in the human body.
Tai Chi as a form of exercise has been in continuous practice from the beginning of the Zhou Dynasty (1028 – 221 B.C.E.), to the present day. In China, Tai Chi has been used therapeutically in modern hospitals and sanatoriums since 1955 and in 1956 Tai Chi was introduced as part of the regular curriculum at the four top Colleges of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Research studies have been conducted at the Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu and Guangzhou Colleges of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In 1986 the China Research Society for Tai Chi Science was founded to oversee research protocols at the colleges and universities. Tai Chi research has also been conducted by colleges and scientific institutions in Japan, Korea, Europe and America. This is a sampling of some of the findings of that research.
- Cardiovascular: Lowers resting heart rate, less abnormal EKG, greater cardiac efficiency, stabilized blood pressure, less LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, more HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
- Circulation: Improves microcirculation, peripheral circulation, prevents vascular spasm, very helpful in Reynaud’s syndrome, angina, migraine.
- Digestive: Improves peristalsis and digestive absorption, fewer pathogenic digestive bacteria (candida), positive effects on ulcers and constipation.
- Respiratory: Slower respiratory rate, improved gaseous exchange, significant positive effects on asthma and bronchitis.
- Immune System: greater count and more active T cells, better targeting of antigens, deactivates harmful free radicals causing significant anti cancer effect.
- Musculo-skeletal: Increases strength, flexibility and bone density, improves coordination, beneficial for arthritis and osteoporosis.
- Brain: increases slow, high amplitude brain waves, improves cerebral blood flow, less incidences of stroke, helpful for paralysis and seizure disorders.
- Mental Health: Decreases in; stress response, Type A behavior, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder. Improvements in memory, concentration, interpersonal sensitivity
Another important factor in continued long term mental acuity is the use of specific Chinese herbal medicines. The use of herbal medicines for specific conditions should be managed by a doctor of Chinese medicine, but for prevention of senile conditions there are several herbs that can be very helpful.
Herbs like acorus, ginkgo, Siberian ginseng and many species of edible mushroom all have shown to increase cognitive function and memory in numerous scientific studies.
Although often marketed individually, it has been found that using these herbs in specific combinations actually give the best results. For instance, the leaf of the ginkgo tree is particularly useful for increases in long term memory but not so much for short term, while acorus root is very good for short term memory but not as good the gingko for long term memory.
Edible mushrooms like hericium, ganoderma, reishi, shitake and miatake have long been used for longevity and mental acuity in Asian cultures and for the past sixty or so years we have learned that about any edible mushroom produces these same benefits to some degree.
Here at Atlantic Institute, we have developed a formula we call “Brain Food” that is made up of the most effective balance of the four major brain enhancing herbs. In a concentrated (5:1) formula we have engineered a blend of acorus root, gingko leaf, hericium mushroom and Siberian ginseng into a formula that has the best potential for deterring all of the thirty-one patterns of diagnosis that are associated with dementia, senility and Alzheimer’s.
You can order my DVD on Tai Chi & Qigong by going to our Store tab at the top of this page or get a streaming video by going to http://soenlightening.com/rk-jade-dragon.html
You can also order Brain Food by going to our Store tab at the top of this page or by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in good health,