White Crane, Internal ?

Discussion in 'Internal Martial Arts' started by FuriousStyles, Oct 3, 2003.

  1. FuriousStyles

    FuriousStyles New Member

    Has anyone trained Crane style/styles ?
    I know it deals with alot of healing/herbs but would it be considered an internal style. if so any recomdations for a beginer ?

  2. David

    David Mostly AFK, these days

    White Crane is considered a mid/high level kungfu. It must be, considering the deepest of Karate comes from it. Beginners should not emulate the internal training tensions that the advanced students display. Nor should they train them as often or as long. By all means cover yourself in the medicines as appropriate.

    Look at that, a whole paragraph without knowing the subject at all :D

    Speak to the teacher.

  3. Snakescales

    Snakescales New Member


    Technically the only arts that really have 'internal' qualities ascribed to them are Taiji Quan, Hsing I Chuan and Pakuazhang (in their various spellings of course). However that is not to say that other arts do not have internal qualities thus making them internal such as Aikido. I think any experienced fighter will try to find an internal side to his art but there is one characteristic I believe that sets a true internal art apart. That is that you train your internal strength and characteristics BEFORE you train in doing your technique effectively for physical contact/effect. For this reason I'd have to say that white crane is not internal. That's why Taiji practitioners move so slow and breathe so methodically when they practice, so you can feel the qi and balance, if you do this enough, your technique should be near perfect when you start speeding up and have the power of your qi behind it as well.

    Last edited: Oct 10, 2003
  4. David

    David Mostly AFK, these days

    I see where you're coming from but I have to disagree. Perhaps taiji/bagua/hsing i practitioners think they're the internal arts but that'd be the result of blindness ;) Obviously, all forums on the web consider those three to be the internals but it's still a loose distinction.

    My mantis is no less internal than hsing i from the outset, even having similar appearance (to a layman). By the end of mantis, though, it often appears to be taiji in practice and fighting. They just start from opposite ends. Also, without meaning to brag, Chow's mantis has internal skills in it that I've never heard anyone else ever having heard of, even amongst the other flavours of southern mantis, taiji and all.

    But, saying that, I guess the three are in the right place because you talk more from the viewpoint of internal.

    So, I have negated my own post! And that's good because I had nothing extra to say about White Crane, anyway!

    "I'll get my coat"

  5. SoKKlab

    SoKKlab The Cwtch of Death!

    Technically Technically technically.
    White Crane Practitioners say that there's is an Internal Art.
    Does it pass the tests? Exactly what are those tests anyway?

    Does it utilises wholebody power in its techniques?
    Is that power relaxed and pliable?

    I've heard the various Mantis systems described as Internal arts, as well as sometimes Pak Mei etc.

    On a wider scale surely Ju Jitsu must be an Internal Art (Not from the geographical POV but from the physical). Because it's 'Relaxed' uses deflection, re-direction and whole body power etc.

    Sometimes it's difficult to accurately say that something is Internal. I mean look at Hsing-I it's very fierce and direct no mucking about and yet it's an 'Internal' Martial Art.

    Does only TaiChi Chuan, Bagua and Hsing-I have the total monopoly on the term 'Internal'?
  6. gojuman

    gojuman Valued Member

    Re: internal

    I believe that sets a true internal art apart. That is that you train your internal strength and characteristics BEFORE you train in doing your technique effectively for physical contact/effect. For this reason I'd have to say that white crane is not internal.

    I do not know anything about White Crane, but Your generalization of what internal means is not the way I think of it. I practice USA GOJU which is an internal art form. The distinction that I believe is that an external system pays attention to the development of the body and the practice of techniques. In an internal system the development of the mind, spirit and body happen simutaniously, not in one particular order as you suggest.

    The understanding of whether of what makes internal internal is not as simple as defining it either. YOu might have the clinical definition, but not fully understand what is going on before many years of practice.

    I think, also that the whole kata vs no kata debate that rages within these posts boils down to the internal practitioners vs the external practitioners.

    I know my Master posesses internal strength, because I have wittnessed it. I don't think that I have begun to understand mine as of yet as I am only a shodan, but I trust that it will be eveloped by practicing the style as I have been told.

    Finally, I appreciate this form over the "yes it is" "no it is'nt" debates elsewhere.
  7. Chris J.

    Chris J. Valued Member


    David, if you are out there, please research the origins of the mantis system via the internet and then get back to me; I could post it here but it is LONG.

    You folks seem to have some inkling of what the word "internal" might mean, only from context. Here is something more specific for you.

    Internal arts are all about body mechanics and bone allignment. Power is a relative term in that you may have leverege over a more powerful attack or opponent and so you seem 'stronger' even without much effort. This is efficiency and not brute force, something that most Karate people only just begin to understand.

    Here is an example. Aikido people do a particular 'parlour trick' called the "immovable object". the instructor asks the strongest man available to lift him. The man positions himself intuitively to have maximum mechanical advantage and lifts the instructor easily. Then he tries again and although the instructor appears to do nothing, he can not be lifted. All he does is drop a bit lower and hug the sides of his rib cage with his elbows and lean just slightly forward; the lifter can not get his elbows under the lift, and the lowness and slight lean create a tremendous leverege disadvantage that is not obvious to the person watching.

    Try pushing someone with your elbows turnes out; now try with them inward as much as possible. See the difference? Here is why. The elbows inward allows the arm to brace against the body, and the pushing may then be done using the more powerful legs and torso. The inward elbow connects the arm with the legs; turn them out just a bit and this effect is completely lost, and your 'inner power' goes away.

    Internal power is a function of breathing, timing and bone allignment. It is quite real, but it is not some mysterious force that you charge yourself up with like a battery. It falls well within the parameters of known science; it is no mystery. But developing it is difficult and requires physical intuition derived from much practice.

    Sometimes people look for something outside of known science, because it makes them feel cool, or somehow powerful. This is your ego talking; do not listen. It is a waste of your time.

    There are those with great internal strength who completely do not understand mentally what gives rist to it; yet it still works very well for them. They try to teach it without understanding where it comes from, with sometimes limited success. Eventually people catch on through practice.

    OK- here is the kicker. The three soft arts that were mentioned above have a tremendous need for 'internal' strength. They do not rely on speed, acceleration, momentum nor muscular strength. They must rely on efficiency, bone allignment, leg absorption/pushing, timing etc. For someone to say that calling them Internal arts is the result of 'blindness' is a sign of ignorance, to be quite blunt. Yes, certainly if you research the Mantis style you will find older Snake elements were added to its footwork, and all arts had common roots and were thus internal in some respect depending on how they were taught, etc. The problem is that people do not understand what the term internal referrs to in the first place. I suggest you research it yourself.

    -Chris J.
  8. Mike Clark

    Mike Clark New Member

    The distinction between Internal and External is a difficult line to draw because its meaning is vague. In the past I have studied Tai Chi, Pa Qua and a little Hsing I. My Chinese teacher made me choose between these and Goju karate that I was studying at the same time for some years. I choose Goju karate as it suited my temperament at that time. I have had a limited exposure to White Crane and from what I know of it the Tai Chi teacher Master Cheng recognised the internal element of White Crane in that gave a spring board into the higher levels of Tai Chi.

    I feel that Internal/External is in part about feeling. If we allow what is natural to develop as in attention to breathing, motor mechanics, empathy, relaxation, muscle efficiency etc etc, then we arrive at the internal spectrum.

    I would add that my Goju has matured over 20 years and is becoming more intrenal ie less effort, more efficient and with feeling. Whatever you can’t have one without the other.

  9. nzric

    nzric on lookout for bad guys

    It's the direction that you go in. Some styles have internal elements but in tai chi, bagua and hsing i, you are taught to only focus on the internal, to actively attempt to forget the external aspects of your innate style. Of course if you get to a high enough level of another art you can incorporate internal aspects, and someone good enough could even make up a new style which is just as internal, but it is still an external art that has turned internal. Just because you can adapt some karate moves to a grappling situation doesn't mean you can put Karate on a par with Judo.

    Also, do you think the old masters in China will suddenly announce that "we've had a look and we've decided that we're going to add another art... there are now four internal arts, not three" No way - that club is dominated by people who have a lineage, a business, a culture and a reputation to uphold. The three internal arts will always be a trinity (just look at the fact that tai chi 'represents' yin/yang, bagua is the trigrams and hsing-i is the five elements). There's no way the people in charge are going to risk their place in the family lineage by accepting another art, especially a foreign art like Aikido even though it may be just as internal.

    And all arts have an "internal aspect" to them. If they didn't, you wouldn't have the energy or balance to stand up. The bottom line is that 'pure' TJQ, BGZ and Hsing I are some of the only arts (yes there are others) where it's actively discouraged to have ANY external element at all. That's the difference.
  10. soggycat

    soggycat Valued Member

    Internal and External

    In addition to Tai Chi, Bagua and Hsing I, some of the other lesser known Internal Arts are:

    #Liu He Ba Fa
    #Tang Lang Chuan ( only one variant, dunno which one)
    #Nine Little Heavens
    #Southern White Crane
    #Aikido ( the only Japanese Internal Art)
    #Kul Suk Won ( Korean )

    #Tang Soo Do ( Korean )

    …….and many others I’m not aware off.

    Saying there are only 3 IMA excludes the fact that there’s a lot of stuff out there that hasn’t received formal recognition,
    but no less effective Internal Styles in their own right .
    Then again I know of many Bagua / Hsing I / TaiChi practioners who are practise the movements but not the meditative/chi aspects ( internal) ironically turning an IMA into Eternal style.

    It’s probably more accurate to say there are 3 well known IMAs amongst many other lesser known ones.
    Most Chinese IMA and EMA styles can be placed into 3 categories
    •Temple Based Styles ( Shaolin and Wudang)
    •Family Inherited Styles ( Chen TaiChi, Hung Gar, Mok Gar, Jow
    Gar ....” Gar” means family )
    •Temple-Derived –Non-Temple styles: Eg.Choy Lee Fatt

    Here’s my non comprehensive list of differences between Internal Vs External Martial Arts:


    1. No stretches and warm ups
    2. Reliance on Chi
    3. Blending with an attack
    4. Yielding
    5. Power comes from within
    6. Relaxed
    7. Fluid
    8. Slow forms
    9. Finesse
    10. Indirect
    11. Circular
    12. Accepting what is
    13. I wait for you to attack
    14. Acknowledging the limitations of the self
    15. Winning without fighting is best
    16. Hard vs Soft and Soft Vs Hard
    17. Deflect a force
    18. Meditative training

    1. Stretches and warm-ups mandatory or self injury results
    2. Reliance on muscle power
    3. Stopping an attack
    4. Struggling
    5. Power comes from outside
    6. Tense
    7. Defined
    8. Fast kata
    9. Power
    10. Direct
    11. Linear
    12. Fighting against it
    13. I attack you
    14. Denying any vulnerabilities
    15. Destroying your opponent
    16. Hard Vs Hard
    17. Force Vs Force
    18. Pain/Endurance training

    Hope this helps
    **IMA Master Liu Jing Ru , ( find him in Google) teaches Cheng Bagua, HsingI and Praying Mantis
  11. soggycat

    soggycat Valued Member

    Sorry , I meant to say " Tang Lang Chuan "= Praying Mantis , is an IMA...but only ONE variant...dunno which one as the others are EXTERNAL
  12. gojuman

    gojuman Valued Member

    Only a finite number of internal syastems! Hog wash!!!
    THis is copied from the statement above by soggycat and it is exactly how we enterpret Goju Karate in our ryu of USA GOJU.

    1. No stretches and warm ups
    2. Reliance on Chi
    3. Blending with an attack
    4. Yielding
    5. Power comes from within
    6. Relaxed
    7. Fluid
    8. Slow forms
    9. Finesse
    10. Indirect
    11. Circular
    12. Accepting what is
    13. I wait for you to attack
    14. Acknowledging the limitations of the self
    15. Winning without fighting is best
    16. Hard vs Soft and Soft Vs Hard
    17. Deflect a force
    18. Meditative training
  13. soggycat

    soggycat Valued Member

    I'm curious is Goju Karate an Internal Style ? May I know what it's origins are?
  14. Kat

    Kat Valued Member

    The big 3 IMA that we all know about is more due to the fact of translation and publishing of certin Teachers from the Beijing area at the start of 1900s.

    Within China there are many other IMA that due to not having become popular(and countless other reasons) have not made it to the west. Definitions of IMA is probally heavily dependent on your background and teachers within IMA and so is heavily relative.

    My opinion, IMA should be apporached through socie-cultural reseach of language, traditions, medical and philisophical beleifs of Mainland Chinese and Chinese Diaspora.
  15. nzric

    nzric on lookout for bad guys

    The problem is the three major IMAs are the yardstick by which other similar arts are measured against. Of course they will always be "more" internal/whatever because you can't argue that something like white crane is internal without referencing it against one of the three.

    What I'm trying to say is although there are a lot of arts that could be seen as just as internal, the three IMA's have the monopoly on the art and will remain to have until people stop having to judge their art against one of the three to find out whether what they practice is internal or not.

    I'm sure there's an easier way to say what I just said - I hope I haven't confused everyone.
  16. gojuman

    gojuman Valued Member

    I'm confused, because until I had read your post I made no such comparisons between my style, USA GOJU, and what you refer to as the 3 IMAs. I had no ability to compare because I do not know about these styles.
    To paraphrase Forest Gump let's just say that "Internal is as internal does" and leave it at that. What I have been taught is that I am learning an internal system.
    The history of Goju indicates that the hard forms of Okinawan karate were combined with the soft elements found in the chiniese systems through variious visists back and forth between the 2 countries by Chugun Miagi.
    I can not speak for the entire Goju system because I only know what I have been taught, so for all I know every other Goju stylist is as external as they come. But, the focus on the various katas and the integration of the elemental study into our martial arts is what makes what I study internal. Having said that I am prepared to learn more as I progress in my training since I have only been studying 8 years.
  17. SoKKlab

    SoKKlab The Cwtch of Death!

    What soft elements in Chinese systems? Why do people keep churning out this stuff?

    Five Ancestors 'Soft'-rubbish!, that's where Goju got it's Sanchin and many other bits and there is nothing 'Soft' about Five Ancestors, or Emperor Fist etc. 'Relaxed' perhaps, but 'soft',
    nay nay and thrice nay, I say.

    I trained with a guy last week who has been doing Five Ancestors for years and he breaks bricks with his head and bends iron bars. Is that soft? see their Sanchin (San Chien) forms and their practice and you'll see the heart of Goju ryu.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2003
  18. Mike Clark

    Mike Clark New Member

    Goju is hard/soft ie half internal/external. However the emphasis in most Goju schools is Go - Hard, despite many teachers claiming to teach the soft side too. Being slow and soft isn't internal its a state of whole mind and body feeling.

    If the Go side of martial arts in general takes 10 years to master then the soft side takes 20 years. To lose the tension and strength not required to become properly 'efficient' takes years.

    When I was introduced to the soft side of Goju I was shocked at how powerful and destructive it was in a very natural way. That was after 10 years+ f studying Goju Ryu and Kai. I thought I had been wasting my time and it deflated my ego very quickly.

    The soft side is whippy, it empathises with the opponent so that you 'feel' what his intention is, is uses Kamea - fighting potures, to negate the the others possible attack along extended lines of force, you use breathing to control your power, you 'dance' with the opponent so that they dictate which technique you defeat them with. The soft side is for the small, weak, slow one to defeat the the big, strong, fast one.

  19. PointsView

    PointsView New Member

    White Crane kung fu has its origins in Tibet, and is probably the oldest "classical" style, aside from Snake, in the repertoire of Shaolin Chuan. There are three basic schools extant--Hop Gar, Mot Gar, and Pak Hok--the similarities far more numerous than the differences. Unlike the widespread Praying Mantis schools with a diphyletic origin , White Crane follows a direct linear path from Lamaistic origins, dispersal through Bodhidharma and finally through the Shaolin temples.

    Crane is generally regarded as an internal system, though initial training is extremely demanding. Although difficult to learn because of these physical demands, it is in fact a highly effective combat system, once the method employed by the Emperor of China's bodyguards. There are only six original forms, though modern schools have devised numerous variations.

  20. iamno

    iamno New Member

    White Crane is not one of the 4 internal styles (everyone forgot Liu He Ba Fa) but it is a VERY good starting point. The internal styles espire to use no muscular power, only the Qi energy passed through the tendons to act in the same way as a whip as opposed to a staff. White Crane is pliable like Tai-Chi but has muscular power at the end of the strike so I dont think it should be classed as IMA

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