Hooked: To BJJ from Tai Chi Chuan

Discussion in 'Brazilian Jiu Jitsu' started by Vince Millett, Jun 26, 2017.

  1. Vince Millett

    Vince Millett Haec manus inimica tyrannis MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Here's an interesting article written by someone with a Tai Chi background who discovered BJJ. I think it's pretty rare that someone with roots deep in an "internal" martial art moves to an art that would be seen as very "external".

    "Ironically, in BJJ I found an art that actually delivered on a lot of the promise of ‘soft’ martial arts like Tai Chi Chuan. Size and strength do matter in BJJ, but only when both people are equally matched in knowledge. A person with knowledge of BJJ against somebody who doesn’t have it usually results in what we saw in the UFC in 1993."

  2. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    I dunno, I know a lot of former 'internal' martial artists who transitioned to 'external' styles after they got an ass kicking.
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  3. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Great article! Thanks for sharing :D
  4. aikiMac

    aikiMac aikido + boxing = very good Moderator Supporter

    I would disagree with that categorization. BJJ is supposed to be internal -- based on subtle movements and shifts so that the skinny little guy can beat the big strong guy. They just don't market it with the word "chi."
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2017
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  5. aaradia

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

    A lot of my fellow students who do TCC and submission grappling find that the TCC helps their submission grappling greatly. Same thing for those students who also were doing wrestling in school.
  6. Vince Millett

    Vince Millett Haec manus inimica tyrannis MAP 2017 Gold Award

    That's why I said "seen as external"...Most commentators on such matters lump BJJ firmly in the external catgory but I'm not so sure the internal/external thing is entirely meaningful anyway.

    The book Research of Martial Arts goes into very long-winded detail about what makes an art "internal" or "external" and it seems to be about where and how power in generated, either from strong muscle contractions on a properly formed frame (external arts) or from controlled and developed blood flow using developed fascia rather than muscle on a properly formed frame (internal arts). Incidentally, the book A Brief History of the Martial Arts: East Asian Fighting Styles, from Kung Fu to Ninjutsu says that the earliest references to chi in Chinese literature use the term as catch-all word for health and vitality - the mystical flowing force concept is a much later historical and philosophical development.

    (People do confuse internal/external with hard/soft, however, and these are not the same thing.)

    Seems to me that in internal arts, you spend years developing power (or chi) before you eventually (maybe) start to learn some combat applications. In external arts you learn combat applications from day one but it is my belief that you eventually develop "internal" attributes as your skills and sensitivity increase - which is what I think you're saying.
    Having read a lot of articles etc by internal stylists, they do seem to look down a bit on external stylists and BJJ is usually deemed to be fully external. Actually, I believe the distinction between the two is a relatively modern analysis and I think it's not entirely accurate or helpful.
  7. Dunc

    Dunc Well-Known Member Moderator Supporter

    In Japanese Jujutsu there's not really a distinction between internal or external arts. There are times when you need to be soft/yielding, times when you need to be hard/aggressive. You first have to develop a stable structure (frame) that does not rely on strength and then develop the ability to move your frame and change frames in a responsive way
    I feel that this is the same in BJJ and (as an outsider) seems to me to be pretty much the same goal for arts like tai chi
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  8. Vince Millett

    Vince Millett Haec manus inimica tyrannis MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Hard and soft is not the same as internal and external, though, and the first book I mentioned goes into some detail on that. All styles of jiu jitsu would usually be considered as external by a practioner of an internal Chinese art, no matter how flexible or soft they are, although as I said, I don't totally agree with that.
  9. Vince Millett

    Vince Millett Haec manus inimica tyrannis MAP 2017 Gold Award

    ...and going back to the article, it does seem that the author still practises Tai Chi as well as BJJ, although maybe it implies this is for exercise and flexibity rather than as a combative thing.
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  10. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    I though Adam Hsu put the whole myth of internal and external to bed years ago, and pointed out its basically a marketing scam to make styles look different and give them a unique selling point, make people feel superior etc without any actual basis in history or fact.
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  11. Vince Millett

    Vince Millett Haec manus inimica tyrannis MAP 2017 Gold Award

  12. PointyShinyBurn

    PointyShinyBurn Valued Member

    This is not a thing. People move by using their muscles, tai chi expertise doesn't enable some alternate mode of biology where you become hydraulic like a giant insect.
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  13. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    He was one of the foremost teachers bringing rare arts from China and Taiwan to the west, and one of the first writers to point out the myths and inconsistencies in Chinese martial arts histories from from shaolin temple myths to te whole internal external debate. He also introduced stuff like weapon's sparring in tournaments
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  14. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Probably the best known tai chi guy to more to bjj is Tim cartmell, currently a bjj 2nd or 3rd Dan and a former Taiwanese full contact champion with extensive tai chi experience here's his view on internal v external
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  15. SCA

    SCA Former Instructor

    Nice to see he has expanded his horizons. Cross training is vital to becoming a well rounded martial artist.

    There is a bit of romanticism with that article. One could have a similar experience with the arts reversed. Unfortunately Tai Chi Chuan has suffered from being taught outside of martial arts, or without a solid foundation of the fundamentals even when it is taught in a martial art context. Beyond that, there's also the problem with all the pseudoscience that surrounds many people's fundamental misunderstanding of ki concepts.
  16. Vince Millett

    Vince Millett Haec manus inimica tyrannis MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Yeah, I'm familiar with Tim Cartmell and I recently tracked down his book Effortless Combat Throws. This is a good and useful quote.
  17. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    If you havnt already seen it!
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  18. Vince Millett

    Vince Millett Haec manus inimica tyrannis MAP 2017 Gold Award

    Yes - I've seen that. Most interesting!

    I think it must be strange to spend so many years so deeply committed to a martial art (or group of related arts) and then move almost entirely over to another quite different one. Which brings us back to the original post, I guess...
  19. icefield

    icefield Valued Member

    Not really any different than being a master in san soo then moving to Taiwan to train multiple styles which were different to that base art. Which is what Tim did

    Some people love training and martial arts over a particular style, id say, whilst not putting words into Tims mouth he always seemed interested in functional training which worked in real situations, hence he went from san soo, to Taiwan to learn from people who could actually fight and had done, either in wars or full contact competitions, i suspect he simply saw BJJ as another art which was functional and worked in a fight and filled a hole in his game
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  20. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    As I recall he was not a master of SS when he went to Taiwan.If you read his account it's pretty apparent,his initial difficulties in free sparring were surprising to me,but made sense when he explained how it was due to the SS methods and outlook.
    When JBlue can get research labs to verify this I'll buy it.Until then I'm wit' pointy.
    This depends on who the teacher is,not everyone does the "wait years and years" crap.
    Too, things were rather different before the socio-political movements of the 1920s and before the popularization of things like T'ai Chi.
    I dunno.Why do you believe this.And what's an "internal" attribute? Oh,things like sensitivity,perchance? Or is that too "external"?:confused: No,don't bother!

    Aside from just reasonable theoretical tactical discussions,I think you'll find most of those folks are people without much unrehearsed pain experience.Including against people from "external" systems.People that get out there and play with others usually show respect where it's deserved.

    Of course if we're going to talk about being looked down on,try being a CMA guy in the 70s/80s! Even when you obviously bested JMA guys you got to hear a whining "I don't know...."

    Like,you were just lucky or something. Bigots.

    I've heard and seen quite a bit of what you speak of,tho'.I think both those camps mainly blither garbage and a)don't know what they're talking about, and/or b) don't want their relig-excuse me,belief systems threatened.
    Define "internal" as related to CMAs.No.Again,don't bother.:confused:And you're correct,it's not a helpful distinction at all.Esp as most CMAs have some sort of training which could fit into the realm of "internal". Depending on one's definition,of course. I guess.Maybe....;)

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