External vs internal martial arts

Zeny

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When i was very young i trained a couple years in taekwondo, then life took over and i went abroad for university etc. When i was 30 years old my interest in martial arts returned and i trained some fuzhou white crane under a local master. After some persuasion from a close friend i joined a local taijiquan class. Taijiquan has been my only art ever since.

In my experience, a serious student of any martial art must clearly differentiate between external and internal martial arts. I have met many people who claim to practise internal arts or some hybrid art like wing chun and white crane but in reality what they are doing is external martial art with a bit of internal flavour. If one has a favourite technique like punching, throwing, leg sweep or joint lock, or even the taijiquan peng lu ji an, i would say that he or she is practising an external art.

What an internal art entails is this. After one acquires the external shape of the postures, the attention turns solely onto what happens in the inside of our body. For example if i do the taijiquan single whip posture, the internal balance of my body adjusts both consciously and subconsciously to allow me to perform the posture in a relaxed manner. Same goes for the transitions between the postures. After this 'internal adjustment' takes place for a few years, one's body becomes extremely balanced both outside and inside, both when standing still and moving.

In addition, after the body passes a certain threshold of 'sung', one acquires the ability to control the degree of tension in the body at will (i.e. solely through thought). When one reaches this stage where the body follows the dictates of the mind, the control of the body becomes refined and any response to external stimuli will become instantaneous. Because everything happens inside the body, the effect can only be felt (by other people), but not seen.

Hence, when an internal martial artist engages a person who has not trained in the internal arts, the internal martial artist can exploit all the 'internal imbalance' of that person. That is why sometimes an internal martial artist can be seen taking down a person seemingly without any effort.

So what martial art do you practise, external, internal or hybrid?
 
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Xue Sheng

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In my experience serious students of martial art should not waste time on such silly notions and know internal and external are false categories that show up in 1669 (in the the Epitaph for Wang Zhengnan) more as a protest against the Qing Dynasty by Han people than anything else, and there was no mention ot Taiji, Xingyi or Bagua in it at all. And prior to that there was no such delineation, because it did not matter.

Also Chen Fake (1887–1957) never thought about internal vs external, he just trained and taught his family style, what we now call Chen Taijiquan. And last there is an old CMA saying...internal goes to external and external goes to internal. This means that if trained properly, they end up in the same place.

To me, a guy who once argued for these ridiculous categories, such categories are at best elitist or at worst an excuse. I'm a taiji guy I use to be a Xingyiquan guy, that is all.... and speaking as a xingyi guy on the topic of internal and external (and I am betting you would get this from many Xingyiquan people)..... who cares..shut up and train.
 

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Learning some jkd or modified wing chun if u like to call it.

Recently I am learning Shao Lin Yi Jin Jing . Basically there are 12 styles or movements . It is a form exercise mainly to strengthen your muscle-bone .

This is brief description
The Bodhidharma Yi Jin Jing is an internal energy cultivation exercise of the Shaolin Monastery. This legendary exercise has been accorded high respect by both Chineses Martial Arts and Qi Gong practitioners alike. It is aimed at strengthening the muscles, tendons, and ligaments and achieving a balanced state of internal energy (Qi) in the human body. This exercise consists of stretching, breathing and visualization techniques to acheive these holistic health foals. Persistant practive will increase blood and energy flow and amerliorate various illnesses and disorders.

c5978b947a27dd45c438aca21740fd1f.jpg
 

oftheherd1

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When i was very young i trained a couple years in taekwondo, then life took over and i went abroad for university etc. When i was 30 years old my interest in martial arts returned and i trained some fuzhou white crane under a local master. After some persuasion from a close friend i joined a local taijiquan class. Taijiquan has been my only art ever since.

In my experience, a serious student of any martial art must clearly differentiate between external and internal martial arts. I have met many people who claim to practise internal arts or some hybrid art like wing chun and white crane but in reality what they are doing is external martial art with a bit of internal flavour. If one has a favourite technique like punching, throwing, leg sweep or joint lock, or even the taijiquan peng lu ji an, i would say that he or she is practising an external art.

What an internal art entails is this. After one acquires the external shape of the postures, the attention turns solely onto what happens in the inside of our body. For example if i do the taijiquan single whip posture, the internal balance of my body adjusts both consciously and subconsciously to allow me to perform the posture in a relaxed manner. Same goes for the transitions between the postures. After this 'internal adjustment' takes place for a few years, one's body becomes extremely balanced both outside and inside, both when standing still and moving.

In addition, after the body passes a certain threshold of 'sung', one acquires the ability to control the degree of tension in the body at will (i.e. solely through thought). When one reaches this stage where the body follows the dictates of the mind, the control of the body becomes refined and any response to external stimuli will become instantaneous. Because everything happens inside the body, the effect can only be felt (by other people), but not seen.

Hence, when an internal martial artist engages a person who has not trained in the internal arts, the internal martial artist can exploit all the 'internal imbalance' of that person. That is why sometimes an internal martial artist can be seen taking down a person seemingly without any effort.

So what martial art do you practise, external, internal or hybrid?

Was all that to say you believe in gi, chi, or whatever you wish to call it? Or are you talking about something else?
 
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Zeny

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Is that a serious question?
 

Bill Mattocks

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When i was very young i trained a couple years in taekwondo, then life took over and i went abroad for university etc. When i was 30 years old my interest in martial arts returned and i trained some fuzhou white crane under a local master. After some persuasion from a close friend i joined a local taijiquan class. Taijiquan has been my only art ever since.

In my experience, a serious student of any martial art must clearly differentiate between external and internal martial arts. I have met many people who claim to practise internal arts or some hybrid art like wing chun and white crane but in reality what they are doing is external martial art with a bit of internal flavour. If one has a favourite technique like punching, throwing, leg sweep or joint lock, or even the taijiquan peng lu ji an, i would say that he or she is practising an external art.

What an internal art entails is this. After one acquires the external shape of the postures, the attention turns solely onto what happens in the inside of our body. For example if i do the taijiquan single whip posture, the internal balance of my body adjusts both consciously and subconsciously to allow me to perform the posture in a relaxed manner. Same goes for the transitions between the postures. After this 'internal adjustment' takes place for a few years, one's body becomes extremely balanced both outside and inside, both when standing still and moving.

In addition, after the body passes a certain threshold of 'sung', one acquires the ability to control the degree of tension in the body at will (i.e. solely through thought). When one reaches this stage where the body follows the dictates of the mind, the control of the body becomes refined and any response to external stimuli will become instantaneous. Because everything happens inside the body, the effect can only be felt (by other people), but not seen.

Hence, when an internal martial artist engages a person who has not trained in the internal arts, the internal martial artist can exploit all the 'internal imbalance' of that person. That is why sometimes an internal martial artist can be seen taking down a person seemingly without any effort.

So what martial art do you practise, external, internal or hybrid?

I enjoyed your descriptions. I do not know very much about CMA. In my own style, Isshin Ryu, we study what you might call 'external', but I have to add that I am spending a lot of time recently trying to do what you describe when contemplating my own 'inner self' as I am applying techniques. This may not be an official or even a taught manner of practicing my particular art, but I am doing it on my own, because it seems right to do so. I suspect that I am far from the first person to do so.

When I take a stance, for example, I am now spending time thinking about the micro-positioning that makes it work or not work, more or less efficient for my body build, weight, and flexibility; in other words, to personalize it for me. I am also thinking about my inner conflicts and mindfulness or empty mindedness that affect my ability to perform the movement that is about to happen. It's an internal as well as external settling moment; a deliberate pause prior to exploding into the next technique. The pause of course, need not be of a significant slice of time, but a mere fraction of a moment.

We talk about dropping our breath, dropping our weight, but we seldom talk about dropping our concerns and mental state. Seems to me that we should, if we can. Even if we do it during training and not so much in an emergency situation, it helps to maximize our potential.

Funny thing is, it reminds me very much of the marksmanship training I received in the Marine Corps. We used an acronym called 'BRASS." Breathe, relax, aim, STOP, squeeze (the trigger). That 'stop' is very important. Maybe more important than anything else. That's the part where you empty yourself and then you become one with the rifle, the bullet, and the target. The finger on the trigger, and the subsequent movement of the bullet downrange, are inevitable consequences of an action that has already been completed in the mind. It will happen because it has happened.

Works for breaking bricks as well. I break them because I already did in my mind. The brick has no choice in the matter.
 

oftheherd1

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Then could you elaborate on exactly what you mean by an internal art? I am not sure how you mean that. Thanks.
 
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Zeny

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I enjoyed your descriptions. I do not know very much about CMA. In my own style, Isshin Ryu, we study what you might call 'external', but I have to add that I am spending a lot of time recently trying to do what you describe when contemplating my own 'inner self' as I am applying techniques. This may not be an official or even a taught manner of practicing my particular art, but I am doing it on my own, because it seems right to do so. I suspect that I am far from the first person to do so.

When I take a stance, for example, I am now spending time thinking about the micro-positioning that makes it work or not work, more or less efficient for my body build, weight, and flexibility; in other words, to personalize it for me. I am also thinking about my inner conflicts and mindfulness or empty mindedness that affect my ability to perform the movement that is about to happen. It's an internal as well as external settling moment; a deliberate pause prior to exploding into the next technique. The pause of course, need not be of a significant slice of time, but a mere fraction of a moment.

We talk about dropping our breath, dropping our weight, but we seldom talk about dropping our concerns and mental state. Seems to me that we should, if we can. Even if we do it during training and not so much in an emergency situation, it helps to maximize our potential.

Funny thing is, it reminds me very much of the marksmanship training I received in the Marine Corps. We used an acronym called 'BRASS." Breathe, relax, aim, STOP, squeeze (the trigger). That 'stop' is very important. Maybe more important than anything else. That's the part where you empty yourself and then you become one with the rifle, the bullet, and the target. The finger on the trigger, and the subsequent movement of the bullet downrange, are inevitable consequences of an action that has already been completed in the mind. It will happen because it has happened.

Works for breaking bricks as well. I break them because I already did in my mind. The brick has no choice in the matter.

I really enjoyed your posts, including this one.

I don't practise an external art, but i do know a bit of it. Let me know what you think of my description. Good external arts, like boxing or fuzhou white crane which i used to practise, also emphasize relaxation, whole body coordination, rooting, explosive force etc. However, the crucial difference between an external art and an internal art is that in an external art, one usually collects, practises and eventually masters individual techniques.

Let's imagine i am an external martial artist. First i train straight punches, until they become very effective and most importantly, second nature. Now this straight punch becomes a part of my repertoire. Next i train joint locks, and so on, until i have built a 'vocabulary' of moves that i could use at will. This 'vocabulary' of moves could consist of 10 or 20 moves or more, and could be absolutely devastating when used at the right moment.

A pure internal martial artist thinks very differently. Take for example myself. I do not learn any set moves. If you ask me what move i'm good at, i would not be able to answer. When engaging an opponent i am externally and internally balanced, and i look for defects in the opponent's body and movement which i then take advantage of. If the opponent is slow i am slower, but if the opponent is fast i am faster. If the opponent advances towards me he will feel that i am very far, but if he retreats he will feel that i am very near. What i'm describing would feel natural to an internal martial artist, but probably a little confusing to an external martial artist.

Re your approach, i can't really comment on its effectiveness, but if i'm an external martial artist, i would focus on practising my selected techniques over and over until they become reflex or second nature rather than worrying about emptying my mind. The reason is that i believe what you are doing is only about 10 percent of an internal art, so instead of trying to gain from this mere 10 percent, i would rather focus on the strong points of my external art.
 
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Bill Mattocks

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I really enjoyed your posts, including this one.

A pure internal martial artist thinks very differently. Take for example myself. I do not learn any set moves. If you ask me what move i'm good at, i would not be able to answer. When engaging an opponent i am externally and internally balanced, and i look for defects in the opponent's body and movement which i then take advantage of. If the opponent is slow i am slower, but if the opponent is fast i am faster. If the opponent advances towards me he will feel that i am very far, but if he retreats he will feel that i am very near. What i'm describing would feel natural to an internal martial artist, but probably a little confusing to an external martial artist.

Memoirs of a Grasshopper: The Eight Laws of the Fist

5. Te wa ku ni ai sunawachi hairu.
Techniques will occur in the absence of conscious thought.

We train specific movements, yes. But when the mind opens, one sees that there is only movement, and the principles of correct movement can be applied in endless configurations to achieve a desired end.
 

Tez3

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Perhaps do a google search?

That's a bit rude. He's not asking what internal arts are, he's asking what you mean by internal arts because you haven't made it particularly clear.
I'm not sure either what you mean by external arts because I don't recognise your description of it.
 

Xue Sheng

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favourite technique like punching, throwing, leg sweep or joint lock, or even the taijiquan peng lu ji an, i would say that he or she is practising an external art.

So are you saying you only find; punching, throwing, leg sweep or joint lock in external arts?

Are you also saying that practicing the 13 postures in Taijiquan is external as well?
 
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Zeny

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That's a bit rude. He's not asking what internal arts are, he's asking what you mean by internal arts because you haven't made it particularly clear.
I'm not sure either what you mean by external arts because I don't recognise your description of it.

i don't mean to be rude, but seriously the various explanations of the term 'internal art' can be found easily on the internet. I don't really want to reinvent the wheel.

So are you saying you only find; punching, throwing, leg sweep or joint lock in external arts?

Are you also saying that practicing the 13 postures in Taijiquan is external as well?

I'm not interested in a debate.
 
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Tez3

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i don't mean to be rude, but seriously the various explanations of the term 'internal art' can be found easily on the internet. I don't really want to reinvent the wheel.



I'm not interested in a debate.



Oh boy. I think you have missed the meaning of the question, he is not asking for an explanation of what internal arts are, he knows but what he and the rest of us don't know is what you think it means, this is because what you are saying doesn't gel with what others understand it to mean nor actually the explanations given when you do look up Google therefore you must mean something different by 'internal arts'.

If you aren't interested in debate what are you posting for? This isn't a university site where you post up a lecture and your thoughts and we all go, gosh thank you.
 

Xue Sheng

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i don't mean to be rude, but seriously the various explanations of the term 'internal art' can be found easily on the internet. I don't really want to reinvent the wheel.

No one is asking you to reinvent the wheel, but a definition on the internet may not agree with the definition that you are using. It is a question from what I can see, that is all.

I'm not interested in a debate.

It is not a debate, I am not interested in debating anything with you either. it is a question that is an attempt to see where you are coming from on this. since you are unwilling to provide a definition of what you consider internal.
 
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Zeny

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Oh boy. I think you have missed the meaning of the question, he is not asking for an explanation of what internal arts are, he knows but what he and the rest of us don't know is what you think it means, this is because what you are saying doesn't gel with what others understand it to mean nor actually the explanations given when you do look up Google therefore you must mean something different by 'internal arts'.

If you aren't interested in debate what are you posting for? This isn't a university site where you post up a lecture and your thoughts and we all go, gosh thank you.

Serious question, why are you on this thread if you have nothing interesting to contribute?
 
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Zeny

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No one is asking you to reinvent the wheel, but a definition on the internet may not agree with the definition that you are using. It is a question from what I can see, that is all.



It is not a debate, I am not interested in debating anything with you either. it is a question that is an attempt to see where you are coming from on this. since you are unwilling to provide a definition of what you consider internal.

You have already stated your opinion that one needs not care about external or internal. Point taken. Now why are you on this thread again?
 
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