Biomechanics of Motion and Quietness

Discussion in 'Internal Martial Arts' started by runcai, Feb 8, 2016.

  1. runcai

    runcai Valued Member

    There are two types of Internal Trainings which are training in motion and training in quietness according to Zhong Guo Wu Shu Shi Yong Da Quan (Chinese Martial Arts Practical Encyclopaedia) edited by Kang Gewu (1990, p. 290). Zhan Zhuang (standing pile) is classified as a kind of training in quietness, and Tai Hang Dao Gong and the Yi Quan of Wang Xiang Zhai have lots of such examples. Lu He Ba Fa was taught openly by Wu Yi Hui who was a close associate of Wang Xiang Zhai and they exchange students. Of course there are also the traditional martial arts such as Taijiquan, Xingyiquan, Baguaquan. I am not sure about Chen Style Taijiquan as a traditional art which was taught openly in the late 1920s in the same period as Yi Quan and Luhebafa.

    I am interested in the biomechanics of motion and quietness in the internal training of martial arts. Maybe members of this forum would like to share some of their experiences in internal training and the meanings of internal training.
  2. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    I have found that there is no such thing as internal and external at levels of competency and it mainly boils down to a difference in training approaches

    A boxer starts off training hard, getting fit and lots of aggression - this gives spirit and combat effectiveness out the gate but means that there are habits that can set in that need changing later. For every Roy Jones Jr there are a thousand club fighters

    A taiji/bagua/hsing i (pick one) practitioner starts off with correct form and moves towards combat effectiveness - this is a slow process (linked to the Chinese mindset and way of teaching largely rather than anything else) and for every Wang Shu Jin there are a thousand who cannot fight sleep

    Now there are a lot of mouthboxers who will spout off and claim "it's different, you have never experienced the real Internal..." blah, blah, blah ad nauseam, but they can never show anything that proves their point

    With little formal "Internal" training I can hold my own in push hands - against a high level practitioner (Sifu Arnold Tayam is one I have trained with) I was mauled. However, you can say the same thing for BJJ players, Boxers and Muay Thai guys - the top level will own me, but against the majority I can hold my own

    Sifu Tayam himself said to me "when you get down to it all arts are basically the same and it is only the nuances that change"
  3. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Ok, I'll have a go.

    Been reading a book from a traditional Taoist lineage.. And I like the way they define certain terms. And from the traditional Chinese standpoint I think this explanation is as good a starting point as any.

    So "Nei Dan" is a focus on pure breath-work as a cultivation method. So we have a starting point of breath = "internal"/ "nei". Wei-dan are "external" cultivation methods in comparison.

    Then at the other end we have a focus on 'pure' body work = "wei-gong".

    So that leaves us the term nei-gong - the internal work of Chinese martial arts. It's explained (in this book) as the transition between Nei Dan and Wei gong. The focus is no longer the body and or it's movements but the breath and feeling of breath within the movement - which follows the intent.

    This to me perhaps represents a specialised kinaesthetic feeling/ and or awareness. This whether practiced in stillness or motion is "nei gong" IOW internal training.

    The whole stillness and motion thing I think runs a bit deeper than all that.. It's like a representation of yin and yang. You find one in the other and one is born from the other. I don't think they are 2 kinds of training, but 2 states where the training is taking place.

    In Yiquan for example there is no biomechanical difference other than external movement between ZZ (still) and shi li (moving). So you have the idea that shi li is like ZZ only on the move. movement is born from stillness, stillness is born from movement; there is no one without the other. Then you seek to find one within the other.

    So you start to recognise the still part of you when in movement, likewise when in stillness (externally), recognise the movement inside you. So in the former (part of )mind is still, body moves. In the latter (outer part of) body is still and mind moves.

    I think all of those arts mentioned had stillness or ZZ trainings, even if it didn't formally carry the ZZ label in the past. It would probably have been a progression for external type stance training, slowly incorporating cultivation and breath-work methods, then further training types of force, body mechanics etc. Something along those lines perhaps?
  4. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Internal describes a way of training, nothing more and nothing less really. There just happens to be a bunch of martial mechanics or "forces"(jin) that are trained to hopefully refined levels through that way of training.

    Internal training as it is is also not really one and the same as training to fight or fight training, which probably complicates things a little further.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  5. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Chinese "external" styles start off with correct form too. It's not about the "correctness" of the form. It's how you train (them) where the difference lies.
    You have to start with the CMA and Chinese culture and related practices around them before you can extend your finding to the broader martial arts world. Looking for the source and basis for the terms and how and why they branch off is the starting point to understanding internal training.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  6. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    Actually Runcai, I would be curious to hear what YOU think about this topic. Not quotes from some book, but your opinion.

    You are always quoting this or that, but never state your experiences in practice.

    So, how about it? What do you personally think?
  7. embra

    embra Valued Member

    From day1 I started with applications, pushing hands and boxing about 3 weeks later, weapons about 6 months later, and Neigong about a year later; much more gradually with Forms in parallel. This was in spite of at least 3 teachers in my 1st year alone, since then I am counting at least 35 teachers of varying duration spanning years to the odd visit.

    All aspects about equally competent/bad these days.

    Everything with ICMA totally depends of who teaches you what, and how best you can assimilate, develop and test the methods.

    Finding good training partners helps but this is not unique to ICMA.
  8. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    They don't start off standing still for 10 years though ;)

    I would also argue - slightly pedantically - that that is pretty much the point I was making anyway. Boxer wants correct form, but dumping someone on their ass is the end goal so form becomes lesser to function; in the internal systems (from my admittedly limited exposure) form IS function

    The differences exist at the Macro level and vanish at the Micro - same with "hard" styles. The movement to the Western market has changed a lot of it, for the better in some ways and worse in others. Half the teaching practices of old would get you charged criminally in most Occidental societies

    Unfortunately such discussions have to take place on a wider scope or else it simply becomes "my instructor does/mine doesn't" and behold - lineage wars like Wing Chun and JKD!
  9. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    They'll just sit you in horse stance instead.. ;)
  10. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    With buckets of water....unless 36 Chambers lied to me!
  11. runcai

    runcai Valued Member

    I think we got two questions here for the time being:

    What is internal training?

    Is there a difference between motion and quietness with reference to Yi Quan's ZZ and Shi Li?

    There are references to internal training from different kinds of martial arts with focus to breathing and internal compression of organs, and in some cases there might be resistant training, etc.

    I look at motion and quietness as a continuum from moving very fast to very slow close to stillness. ZZ has motion but very light, and Shi Li or the testing of strength is an acceleration of strength from very light to very powerful within a short distance.

    As to your question of experience and practice, there are references to many methods or practices and personal experience is very subjective. Maybe here we can evaluate different methods with our experiences or compare our experiences with different methods and practices.
  12. runcai

    runcai Valued Member

    One example of internal training is breathing, and some schools teach reverse breathing and others not. Maybe we can evaluate the different kinds of breathing methods.
  13. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    Here is my simple question. If I want to develop the following skills:

    - roundhouse kick,
    - hip throw,
    - single leg,

    Can "internal" training be able to help me on these 3 skill development? How? What's the difference between an "internal" guy does his roundhouse kick, hip throw, single leg vs. a

    - MT guy does his roundhouse kick,
    - Judo guy does his hip throw, and
    - wrestler does his single leg?

    If you are an "internal" teacher, when your students ask you such question, what will be your answer to them?
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2016
  14. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    In stead of standing in horse stance for 30 minutes, it's better to to use that time to drill solo hip throw 300 times.

    - Running is better than walking.
    - Walking is better than standing.
    - Standing is better than sitting.
    - Sitting is better than laying down.
    - Laying down is better than to be dead.

    IMO, training in motion (dynamic) > training in quietness (static).

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2016
  15. 23rdwave

    23rdwave Valued Member

    The focus is on the body state not the movement.
  16. runcai

    runcai Valued Member

    The involvement of internal training in sport of technique specific training is kind of interesting. The question of which is better is irrelevant because it should which training is relevant to a specific action such as roundhouse kick, hip throw, etc. Since we mentioned breathing, may be we can look at the kinds of breathing that are involved in certain actions.
  17. The Iron Fist

    The Iron Fist Banned Banned

    I am not an internal teacher and my knowledge of Hung Gar internal training is nubile however I will say that a common misconception that I myself had prior to training was that the 'internal' martial art methods were soft, quiet, gentle and so forth. However the Hung gar approach to internal training begins on Day 1 and includes both static and moving tension exercises, some of which are quite grueling and exhausting, similar to many calisthenics. So I would say that some forms of internal training method are good as general strength and endurance improving exercises. I thought it was important to point out that in some cases 'internal' does mean hard work of some sort, even if the methods differ by art the outcomes are what seem to make them grouped as 'internal'. A master of 'internal' art is supposed to have great (sometimes hidden) resources of strength and ability as opposed to obvious external strength (like a hulking, muscular behemoth would indicate at a glance).

    A beginner rank Hung gar student isn't told (at least not in my experience) their very first exercises fall under 'internal' as opposed to the many types of 'external' the style is known for, but eventually it is worked into the discussion, when those baby steps are finally ingrained (I was probably first introduced to that about 6 months or so in). After 6 months of steady Hung gar training most people should find greatly improved stamina, stronger legs, stronger core, better balance, and relaxed breathing during strenuous training. These are the 'hei gong' exercises and not kept as some great secret, they are literally the first thing you learn. I also lift weights and noticed a massive improvement in my hip strength (waist and hip strength are core competencies of Hung gar), which in turn improved my dead lifts etc. Not to imply that it taught me a different way to lift, but it simply complemented things.

    You would not be able to pass the first Hung gar ranking examinations without at least some form of improvement. The first tests for horse stance are only 5 minutes long, which doesn't seem like much, but good luck pulling it off without months of practice strengthening the static positions. But even then, the goal is not just to sit in horse, it's to use that 'new strength' to start moving, improving your boxing footwork, and so on. I found this 'new strength' which is considered by some to be 'internal' to simply be standard strength exercises targeting isolated spots or odd positions that are hard to hit without putting your whole body into them.

    Planking is a good example of a static position that is strengthened in the same way. No movement, but little by little that new 'internal strength' will show itself. Having spent some time in that static pose, I can today plank for 10x longer than when I first tried it. So it goes with 'internal' training, in my opinion at least. Of course the muscles and skeleton are doing the work, but from a conceptual point of view, the strength required to plank comes from 'within'.
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2016
  18. 23rdwave

    23rdwave Valued Member

    It's not about skill development. Just like running helps with endurance and resistance training helps with strength, internal training builds a sensitive, responsive and powerful martial body. You'll find out through training how your techniques will change. Big movements get smaller and you can generate more power with less effort.
  19. 23rdwave

    23rdwave Valued Member

    I do a lot of body weight exercises including skips, crawls, holds, press and pull, with rings, on bars, up trees, etc. and although it builds a different kind of strength it is still external training. Internal training is about awareness. It's hard to do reps and sets of awareness exercises.
  20. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    If you think the above is not true of external martial arts, I would say you are mistaken.

    External training has everything you mention above as well.

    My "external" style instructor has been talking a lot the last year about the difference between a highly skilled martial arts practitioner being having a self awareness. Sensitivity, responsiveness and powerful martial bodies do not belong solely to internal training.

    Also, my external style ALSO repeatedly stresses that big movements become smaller as you become more skilled. A phrase often repeated on my GM's video's is "all small and tight starts from big and wide"

    Nope, I think you draw distinctions that simply don't exist here. They definitely don't in my "external" style.

    Again, what my instructor said about awareness being a main thing that separates the advanced practitioner from the beginning/ intermediate practitioner.

    Also, I used to lift weights. And the idea of awareness should exist when you lift too. If you don't have that awareness, no disrespect, but I don't think you are lifting properly.

    I disagree that it is hard to do reps and sets with awareness. In fact, mindless reps and sets is how people get injured and don't maximize the value of their weight lifting workout. Lifting without mindfulness and awareness is a bad idea IMO.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2016

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