Discussion in 'Internal Martial Arts' started by alister, Dec 1, 2005.
I'm listening, but I can't hear anything.. even with my speakers full blast..
Pardon my slow response...
I've heard a very similar explanation, except that instead of it being linked to the Boxer rebellion it was the Manchu invasion, and the need to train fighters more quickly to defend China against the invaders!
Nothing is ever straightforward where Chinese MA's are concerned, is it?
No - China doesn't do straightforward ime. My teacher also said this had happened before in Chinese history so that would explain the Manchu thing.
(BTW seeing as my response was even slower, does that make me a better IMAist? lol )
The Taiwanese Approach
The thing I love about this quote is that it points out firstly that there is no such thing as an internal art and secondly that the so-called "internal aspects" of training are low level stuff. Food for the soul!
Before anyone concludes from this that the internal stuff should be learned first, Ted also says:
The same article also states:
Most "IMA" practitioners don't train this way, but the ones who do often have links to Taiwanese schools and methodology. It works for me because my first teacher trained in Taiwan and such an approach is normal to me.
There is a physical difference internal an external styles.
Lets do external first sense this is were you are coming from.
External focus is on the outside of the body.
External also focus in hiting is to hit threw or past the object with fist.
External is based on how much damage thay do to there opponent external skin.
Internal is focused inside the body.
Internal is focused on hitting with affecting the internal body like affect to spine.
Internal often is how to have control of there opponent from using the opponent own force.
Internal focuses on how to sudate or tonify the energy from the opponent less strength used.
Physical Structure in external look like your teacher have same attitude.
Hit thru your target used tension to maintain body structure go so far as to us dynamictension training exercises to build strength. Focus on point of contact.
Physical Structure of internal is use the actual sorce of the structure of a punch to drive the punch like the elbow being the internal part of the arm used to drive the hand into the opponent. Maintain structure thru the feeling of the opponents pressure against the force of the opponent us no strength.
Above all internal focus on the spine an internal effect on the opponent to impede the attempts of the opponent.
I agree that "internal" and "external" are different aspects of the training of CMAs, not different types of CMA.
However, internal training is certainly not "low level"--in fact, I'd say the space for its development is even more unlimited than the external, fighting aspect. In the time I've been doing qigong, it has changed again and again, much as my understanding of fighting has changed as I've studied martial arts. Not only what I can do, but the way I experience the practice and the benefits I get change and improve over time. Concepts that seemed esoteric become tangible.
And here's the thing--my teacher's been doing qigong for more than 45 years and he says it still changes! He still figures out and understands new aspects of it. While he would claim to have a pretty good handle on the three CMAs he usually teaches, as well as on fighting in general, he still says he feels there is much more out there in the realm of qigong for him to understand.
Qigong is something you can devote your life to and never fully master... and only once you've reached a given level will you know what may be possible when you get there. It's actually about the least "low-level" thing I can imagine, unless "total physical and mental self-mastery" is low-level...
I guess my point is that if the word external means all of those things, and the word internal means all of those things, the terms are very vague and I could not get all those meanings from looking up "external" or "internal" in a regular dictionary. So I think we need to be specific and explain in depth rather than in code.
Also, all of the things in the "internal" list can be accomplished with intention and tactics, but you need the same things to achieve everything in the "external" list. It is mostly down to words, but words also reflect attitude. I prefer scientific thinking - that tries to rationalise and explain, rather than thinking that reveres the mysterious and pushes the meaning further away just when you thought that understanding was in sight.
Okay here's another way of looking at it, just to keep things rolling...
In the recent examples above, let's take as a given that mind/intent, good mechanics/technique, blah blah etc etc are present in any (good) martial art training ok? So moving from there...
1.) Forget English dictionary definitions of internal/external - the Chinese language rarely translates accurately or satisfactorily into English. When I started, it was described to me as 'hard' and 'soft' MA - which is obviously woefully innaccurate, but that was a common translation.
2.) The 'punch through' method is not exclusive to EMA, but I think the IMA aim is to transfer the power (see, I didn't say 'energy' jkz, oops yes I just did after all - doh! ) of the strike into the opponent from the point of contact to inside, thus attacking the internal organs and bones rather than musculature (again, not exclusive to IMA, I know) - like a kind of stun shot in pool - so you don't over-commit, lose balance and/or waste your efforts. But this is not really an esoteric thing - just a power delivery method that certainly occurs in other CMA (wing chun springs to mind). This is considered dangerous to practice, which is why Taiji masters emphasised delivering power beyond to 'launch' the opponent upwards and/or backwards thus avoiding internal injuries (but often causing external ones lol). But the overall principle is the same, just a change of intent/focus... Yang Ban Hou was a classic example of someone who used the internal damage approach in preference to the launching method and earnt his 'bad-boy' title that way... :yeleyes:
3.) (Purely) External MA is very much about developing muscle structures, speed and physical stamina and using the mind-aspect to make your power go through the opponent, breaking stuff by consequence. The training is at speed and trains combat speed at a physical/pressure level - slow training is only used to get the shapes and patterns then it's all 'turned up'. As you get older the inevitable physical decline makes this training more difficult and eventually impractical for most people.
Internal MA attacks directly with intent inside the opponent (doing direct physical damage, but also working with the opponent's centre and structure to defeat him without necessarily injuring seriously), tends to be less physically based at an early stage and (in the case of taiji as I was taught it) is practised very slowly to help develop precision, strength and (using taiji theory - yin becoming yang at its extreme and vice-versa etc) speed. Taiji techniques can of course be speeded up for practice and certainly are in application. The emphasis in training is safety, sustainability and eliminating any negative health effects that EMA often causes...(for example, see the recent Tai Chi thread on knee probs - if that was 'pure EMA' it would be: wear a knee support, see a physio, have a knee replacement, take pain killers, suck it in wimp, or give up you're finished m8 lol ) IMA should be sustainable well into old-age because of its economy, safe training methods and favouring mind-driven power delivery over pure physics. IMA takes longer to develop, which is how the EMA/IMA came about really imho - the boxers being trained quickly and teaching the next generations that way until it became 'the norm' and older 'purists' wanting to distance themselves from that kind of approach. The division is artificial but was probably a necessary one to avoid the IMA's dying out or going 'external' like the rest.
4.) Any MA can be practised 'externally' or 'internally' and they should probably be a balance of the two, taking into consideration the condition of the practitioner (age, sex, health, natural talent, previous MA experience etc)
I favour a 70% internal work 30% external in my own training as that suits where I'm at right now.
5.) Being an old-fashioned CMAists I have to have a 'number five' so I can relate it to the five elements and thus gain esoteric kudos...
You love it really
Oh - you pest.
But the internal vs external thing was brought in to force a false dichotomy. You might as well say "good vs bad." Good martial artists FROM ANY DECENT STYLE also know about careful practice and preserving knees. I know Eskrima & JKD people do and they are about as external as you can get. And if you go and train with Krishna Ghodania, he shows plenty of concern for people not getting injured during training.
Also, soft and hard is not interchangeable with internal and external - I really think you must already know this. Look - it's all about balance isn't it. Not in the sense of "healing" or anything flaky like that, just in the sense that real martial training can be done with care and precision - it isn't much of an art otherwise is it?
"Soft and hard" is in any well-rounded style. Internal and external muscle development, long and short power strikes to repel or injure respectively...
It's only the IMA's who think they have a monopoly on good martial arts practice because frankly the dichotomy was set up with an elitist mindset in the first place.
I'm wasting my breath, aren't I. C'mon - you can tell it to me straight....
Just to be clear tho - Taiji, Bagua and xing yi have all been described as 'soft martial arts' by people like Howard Reid and in the BBC's "Way of the Warrior" - INCORRECTAMUNDO! imho
Agree about the elitism to an extent, but you have to place that in historical context and look at the motivation behind it. It's probably a redundant term now, but how do you differentiate quality and/or training styles otherwise?
For what it's worth I think a lot of 'health taiji' actually qualifies as 'external' as it has no substance or depth and certainly no 'peng'
How about using terms best suit what you are trying to convey (I know that's a radical step) like good and bad? Even then - if that is something you are trying to say about an entire style, you'd better watch out, but then again it is at least more honourable than implying it with terminology like internal / external which is just a sneaky way of implying what you see as a sophisticated vs. an unsophisticated approach to training.
IMHO the self-appointed "internal martial arts "elite"" are clinging to what is actually a discredited mythology because it means that they do not have to compete on equal terms with the people they call "external martial artists." It also provides a handy strategy for criticising and dismissing the work of other martial arts and martial artists on intangible and untestable grounds. I think "IMA" people are on very thin ice, which is probably why it is safer to promote anything and everything apart from the fighting aspects, thus enabling the "internalists" to take the moral high ground if they **** anyone off.
jkzorya i agree when i first started training in martial art i thought those were just BS terms than as time passed i realized either adapt or die. Meaning i thought exactly as you are right now why this way why not like i think.
My tip is take one of them an try to truely answer why thye choose these words to retranslate Sun Lu Tang book that way.
[Quote = jkzorya]Also, soft and hard is not interchangeable with internal and external - I really think you must already know this. Look - it's all about balance isn't it. Not in the sense of "healing" or anything flaky like that, just in the sense that real martial training can be done with care and precision - it isn't much of an art otherwise is it?
"Soft and hard" is in any well-rounded style.[qoute]
THat is preety much right! Except what internal/external deals with is how you use an overall approach to fighting. An can apply to philosophie in life i have meet many JJ, BJJ that are very internal like Macado(check sp).
Hard/Soft deals with in a fight when and how to maintian a structure. That is your Physical structure.
I agree with what you are saying just slightly different use of word little easier to remember is all.
[QUOTE = jkzorya]It's only the IMA's who think they have a monopoly on good martial arts practice because frankly the dichotomy was set up with an elitist mindset in the first place.
Interesting post wudangfajing
You and Jkzorya are both major assets to this forum imho
I HAVE to tell that to a guy I know...
You know the kinda people saying they do "hard qigong", then take a mean face, and do something that looks way to much like trying to take a dump in your pants....
Differences such as hard, soft, internal and external should be forgotten... every single Chinese sifu I meet start off by saying "every martial are are essentially the same" , "internal and external cannot be seperate"
Think of a ball. Is the the inside surface seperate from the outside surface.
How long do people need. It's the difference in training style and methods of CMA...
There are both types in CMA. some start on one side of a spectrum, others on another (basically). they should cross over- some probably don't. All styles have there flavour of methods and keep them.
However. Some styles have developed that share principles that begin in a certain fashion and follow a path. because of that there is a difference. So some we class internal and some external - depending on where focus at the start. If they start the focus with sung. then I would quite happlily tell you. That is internal. In an external style you would probably begin with building the strength in your body. We want to open up your body into one unit first - open it up, stretch it out and relax the container and ground it. Before we pour in some molten liquid power.
Still, we can't ignore the fact that the divide into internal and external styles did not exist before Sun Lutang introduced it in the early 20th Century and many people reject the methodology entirely, as Lightbringer_77 points out. Sun may have brought about a new way of assessing different arts, which has become increasingly influential, but we don't all have to go along with it.
That's brilliant. I'm free to follow what i want and you are what you want to do / follow. So if you don't care for the internal label . and ? it's just a WORD
Great - we have an agreement then. But...
"Internal" is a methodology as well as a word. As long as no one tries to imply that to take a different methodology is less good, I'm sure we can all be happy. The argument only came about because Sun Lutang said "these 3 styles are internal which means good and all the others are external which means rubbish." Ever since, self-declared "Internal stylists" have adopted an unfounded position of superiority and others have styles have vied to be added to the elite list e.g. Liuhebafa and Yiquan. As long as no one sucks through their teeth and talks in secret code any more about people lacking "internal aspects", I'm sure we'll all get on fine.
Everybodies "internal aspects" are their own wouldn't you say?
I'll do mine, and everyone can worry about their own training.
That's great, but can you tell me what people mean when they say that someone has "no internal skill"? Or that some one is no good "internal wise"? I hear this phrase thrown about regularly, but have no idea what on earth anyone means by it. It is like the Emperor's New Clothes isn't it?
People say the same kind of thing about qi "so and so has no qi" or whatever. I recently heard from a friend who'd had two different people fail to "demonstrate their qi" on him. One concluded it hadn't worked because my friend "had no qi" and the other concluded my friend's qi "was too strong". Ironically, he has never spent a minute of his life "cultivating qi."
I'm not just being awkward here, you know - I just honestly don't know what your last statement really meant, zendog. If I knew what you meant by "internal aspects", I might know whether or not mine were unique to me and whether or not someone could judge those of another just by looking.
If people just mean the 3 internal harmonies of xin-yi, yi-qi and qi-li, why don't they say so? Perhaps they could also then discuss precisely what is meant by harmony or disharmony, though I'd love to know how they think they can see them, their being internal and all. At any rate if those were the internal components being implied then presumably there is nothing unique about them as they should be common to all Taijiquan or Xingyiquan practitioners, albeit with different interpretations according to style, lineage and even teacher. Are they confusing their san nei he (3 internal harmonies) with their san wai he? (3 external harmonies - which you could see, though interpretations still vary wildly as to what constitutes harmony there too.) I'm getting the impression that for many forum dwellers, forums are not really for intelligent debates or discussions, but for playground taunts, bitchy comments, sycophancy between friends, secret languages and veiled ignorance. Or maybe I'm just having a bad day.
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