Internal vs External - anecdotal case history

Discussion in 'Kung Fu' started by David, Sep 18, 2009.

  1. David

    David Mostly AFK, these days

    Some may know I train southern praying mantis. I’ve never been a dedicated athlete or disciple type and I often feel like an embarrassment to my betters in the style.

    Anyway, I’ve been a fan of SPM for over a decade now and have trained a lot of that time. A couple of times I fell out of the habit for many months at a time and the last time was a year off class May 2008 through to April or May 2009.

    SPM is full of hay gung (that’s Cantonese for qi gong) and I happily trained it in class and between classes for several years. I got pretty strong in it, especially considering my bean-pole physique. I never believed in the internal stuff, I just did it as part of the whole, hoping the point would be made clear.
    As time passed, I got to know what I was good at and what I was bad (weak) at and started drifting into focussing my time on making myself strong in those areas which lacked. The effect of this was a drifting away from internal practice and finally an almost complete cessation of internal work.

    So, I had this last year off. In January 2009, my New Year’s Resolution was to get back into shape for class. I became the dice-man and made a training regime dictated by the rolling of various dies (dice, dices, whatever ;)). The training was pretty hardcore and purely external though 100% SPM focussed. (I became healthier than ever before, by the way).

    Feeling well prepared, I went returned to class in May. I knew I’d suffer to start with and that it’d take some time to adjust to working with live force from fellow students and fully get into the flow. To my dismay, I never got into the groove and was always prematurely tired and I felt so weak.

    Then I read an old article about qi gong and it suddenly made sense. I was weak because I had fallen into the trap of thinking about strength in limited terms. I'd fallen for the fallacy of muscles uber alles..

    I immediately started working on the hay gung from my system.

    I'm a few weeks down the line now and it's all coming together for me. It's like old times but better. First I'm developing instead of being frustrated and injured. Second, I'm in accordance with my teacher and the teachings. Third, I'm not wasting effort.

    If you’re supposed to be training internally but you’re not, or you don’t see the point, then take it from me that you owe it to yourself to give it your attention.

    It’s a vague post, lacking in applicable or test-able information. I can post some details if the thread goes anywhere and demands it.
  2. beknar

    beknar Valued Member

    is this common to many or all chinese martial arts? i don't do any qi gong due to time constraints, heck i even let my iron palm practice fall behind, but should i, even if i'm in a longhand style?
  3. David

    David Mostly AFK, these days

    So you have qi gong in CLF, beknar?

    I thought it was more common :) Hsing I... Bagua... other Hakka systems... Shaolin longfist... damn it's so long since I spent time on the forums, I forget all the other styles. :(

    Clearly, I'm not alone in sinning by ignoring the internal. Like I am starting to believe - like I've always been told (vaguely) - ignore it to your own cost.

    Shaolin Sinew & Tendon Changing Classics
    Iron <body part>
    ...Breathing exercises

    Ring any bells?

    Personal update - it goes with all the other strength and motion training, not instead of it :).
  4. Ciar2001

    Ciar2001 New Member Supporter

    Loved the post David, I myself also do SPM and recently started doing the normal weekly lesson + a private lesson 1 on 1 with my sifu, and in the few weeks of training I have seriously noticed a difference in technique, hay gung and certain little things that were corrected which have completely changed my outlook and use of these things :)

    who is your Sifu btw?
  5. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    Here's a CLF Qigong form
    [ame=""]YouTube - Las 18 Palmas de Buda - Sub Bak Lohan Yik Gun Kuen[/ame]

    I think it's about finding balance in you're training, whacky Qi claims aside, Qigong is good for joint mobility, increases your proprioception, gives you better control of your limbs, and allows you to relax. This balances out the "yang" strength and fitness training.
  6. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    As important if not more important for longarm styles, because of the stresses your shoulder and elbow joints are under, and the need for focussed relaxation to derive power.
  7. David

    David Mostly AFK, these days

    ciar, 1on1 lessons are the best, and the least you should aim for is to make sure you never let it go a week between decent intensity sessions or you end up almost back where you were at the start of the previous week's class... deja vu, more frustration and pain.

    My instructor is Bill Spraggs, a senior student of Paul Whitrod sifu. Bill trains with him a long session once per month.

    sifu Ben, thanks for the video! I recognise a lot of it from tai chi and a lot of the rest reminds me of clf :) The one-legged stuff towards the end was intense!
  8. David

    David Mostly AFK, these days

    I've discovered a very pleasant result from the exercises I'm doing. For years (5-10, I can't remember exactly but somewhere in there), I've been unable to sleep directly on my side because it caused pain. Suddenly, it's not a problem. Happy happy!
  9. Ciar2001

    Ciar2001 New Member Supporter

    No I make sure that the private lesson is never missed, especially as we concentrate on Chy sau and then doi jong along with forms, actually doing the forms correctly breathing opening closing it changes the whole way that i look at all the forms already seeing a marked difference, and you right I now know why i get pain under my armpit, after all this time :)

    my sifu is Michael Franklyn one of Paul Whitrods students also.
  10. David

    David Mostly AFK, these days

    I think I've seen your sifu involved in a demonstration for the late Ip Shui last time he came to the UK.

    Forms are a hard hay gung development if your tendons stand out and your joints are burning with the amount of control you're holding them under.

    I was thinking about the development of "heavy" arms the other day and googled it just for laughs. I found an amazing, long (and weird) Systema forum thread which described attaining it using different words and images to those I get from kung fu methods which have been translated from the Chinese, such that it doesn't just confirm things for me - it actually makes more sense.
  11. Ciar2001

    Ciar2001 New Member Supporter

    Ooh will take a look at that article, cheers.

    we did a demo recently up at the south bank for the pestival festival, which was a good laugh.

    just read that post, interesting I have always been told to be relaxed when striking and only put power into something on impact, and with heavy you really do benefit from being relaxed and when you strike you notice the difference between relaxed and tense, that guy basically just put into words how we are always supposed to strike which is great, because I doubt i could do it :)
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2009

Share This Page