interpretation of "soft/internal" arts

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sweeper

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I have seen alot of people practice so called internal arts in a realy soft fasion, not realy practicing with an agressive resisting opponant or implamenting the method of deffence/offence in a aggressive fasion. Genneraly I assume this is how they learn it, when you can find a thai chi/yoga center on every other street corner it seems that most of the schools are attempting to cater to a crowd looking more for an aerobic workout than self deffence (yet the practioners seem to thinkn of it as self deffence).

The question that comes to mind is, do you think it would be posable to practice at one of these schools and than practice implamenting the techniques in a diffrent flavor, a more aggressive flavor that you may have learned somewhere else?

for example (and this is strictly hypothetical) I practice JKD and Kali, both fairly agressive. If I were to take up tai chi at one of these schools do you think it would be posable for me to implament it in a way that it could be more effective in a fight due to my previous experience?
 
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zen_hydra

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If you are experienced at being able to pull techniques out of forms, then I say sure. If a group of people is just going through the motions, but the motions that they go through are the same ones developed as a martial art, then a trained mind should be able to see the applications through the dance.
 
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RobP

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No I don't think you would, because with internal styles - whether it be the Chinese neija or soft arts from other countries - it is not about the movements but about how you develop and deliver the power.

Jsut learning a form and then making it "aggressive" will not really bring you any benefits. In fact training at one of those places will bring you very few benefits at all (other than the class may be full of ladies....).

FWIW soft doesn't mean non-aggressive either.

cheers
 

Matt Stone

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First, the term "internal" is a complete misnomer. The so-called "internal" and "external" relationship has been exposed in recent years to be the construct of both Sun Lu Tang's desire to mess with people's heads (and encourage them to explore more deeply into their arts) and American MA "journalism" needing a way to refer to arts they weren't familiar with.

Second, there is more to the "internal" arts than moving slowly, or doing forms, or being passive/aggressive, or generating power in a certain way... It is all of that and more that separates them from the run of the mill mini-mall karate dojos.

Gambarimasu.
:asian:
 
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yilisifu

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Yes, and another part of the problem is that the majority of people teaching "internal" arts out there haven't the slightest clue as to what they're supposed to be doing. As an old friend of mine said, "There are those who don't have a clue...then there are those who don't even suspect."

Many internal martial arts teachers fall into the latter category.

Simply trying to figure out what the techniques (in the forms) are and how they're applied, and then working to use them ina more aggressive fashion will not teach you how to use internal martial arts.
 
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sweeper

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the only reason I was reffering to them as internal/soft is that's what most people call them and how most people practice them.

Thanks for the responces :)
 

Matt Stone

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Those terms have become the common methods for referring to those particular kinds of arts, but they remain spurious titles nonetheless...

Martial arts are martial arts. Some emphasize some things, some emphasize others. Some even come close to emphasizing them all! :D

However, if you are a FMAist, just picking up the taijiquan form will not turn you into either a taiji fighter nor, necessarily, an internal boxer. You will just be a FMAist doing a taiji form...

Gambarimasu.
:asian:
 

Yari

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Originally posted by Yiliquan1
The so-called "internal" and "external" relationship has been exposed in recent years to be the construct of both Sun Lu Tang's desire to mess with people's heads.

Gambarimasu.
:asian:

Could you elaborate more on this, please.

/Yari
 
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yilisifu

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Sun Lutang was responsible for emphasizing Xingyi's basic postures as being relative to the "five elements" and for creating two-person sets where the postures are practiced in the manner of the "Cycle of Control" (metal destroys wood, wood destroys, earth, etc). He later admitted doing this (in his book) to confuse people and keep them from learning the true art...He didn't want "just anyone" learning the art from a manual.

He's also the one who coined the term "internal styles" (neijia) when referring to Xingyi, Bagua, and Taiji. Up until then, the Chinese had no special "category" for these systems; they were simply viewed as martial arts systems as are/were all the others.

Many moons later, the martial arts media picked up on it when they began doing articles on Taiji (and later on Xingyi and Bagua) and, in my opinion, created and then widened the chasm between these systems and everyone else.
 
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zen_hydra

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The original poster asked if he could gain something useful from a tai chi class that was being taught by someone who didn't teach it as a martial art. While, obviously, he would not learn anything combat oriented that he could not derive on his own from the forms movements, he could still find useful martial techniques if he knows how to see them. Internal or external it makes no difference. If you are an experienced martial artist you could learn something from any form you might practice.

The only "internal" martial art that I can think of that it might be difficult to implement aggressively is aikido. A great many aikido techniques require a committed attack from an opponent to work effectively.
 
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RobP

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I doubt it - for a start many of the "dancey" taiji groups alter the forms, so even the postures are not of much use. In any event, I'd venture that techniques are of limited use anyway.
 
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zen_hydra

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I'd venture that techniques are of limited use anyway

What do you mean by that? Punching and kicking are techniques. Grappling is composed of countless techniques. That comment makes no sense.
 
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RobP

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So does someone who does, say Hsing I punch the same way as a karateka?
 
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zen_hydra

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So does someone who does, say Hsing I punch the same way as a karateka?

There is no one preventing them from doing so if they choose to. I get the feeling that you misspoke in your previous post.

If you meant to say that techniques that one could learn from studying with a "dancey taiji group" would be deficient, then that is what you should of said. However, what you actually said is...

I'd venture that techniques are of limited use anyway

Meaning that techniques, in general, are of limited use. Which one could argue is true (though I doubt that this was your point), since a thrust kick would be out of place at a lecture on macroeconomics (therefore being limited in usefulness).
 
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yilisifu

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I think one could learn some techniques by just learning a Taiji set - but it would probably be better if one just learns them from another source -

The answer to the question, "Does a Xingyi boxer punch like a karateka?" is no. It LOOKS the same outwardly, but inwardly it's entirely different.

This is the point. You COULD learn a thrust kick or palm strike from a Taiji set, but it wouldn't be done as it really is done in Taiji.
 
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zen_hydra

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The original poster only asked if he could gain some useful information from the tai chi class, not whether he could actually learn tai chi. The point being that something (other than competent, proper tai chi) could be learned from the forms without proper instruction from a martial artist.
 
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yilisifu

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My point is that although the various punches and kicks APPEAR to be the same as in most other systems, it isn't necessarily so. So why waste his time stuggling to discover what is already obvious? He won't be able to learn the REAL material anyway unless he finds a good teacher and really commits himself.
 
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sweeper

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well perhaps I didn't clarify my question enough. I wasn't asking if you can learn good tai chi by going to a wussy school and being agressive, more what I was getting at is the question of the direct application of the forms. Since I practice other arts and read in genneral about martial arts and physical activity I have a fair understanding of biomechanics and how to use your body to apply force. Given this understanding could If I were to learn forms from another martial art (I fingered so called internal schools simply because the ones you find scattered all over the place seem to all be realy soft and gentle) could I extrapolate usefull information.

The question though isn't realy about me but rather someone else. In a hypothetical situation could someone else who has practiced these forms in a school over and over learn to apply them after moving on to a more combat oriented school, and with the aid of some knowledge of biomechanics (and the application within MA)? Not another tai chi school but something else totaly diffrent, would that be posable or would the time at the tai chi school be a total waste?
 
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ob2c

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Originally posted by sweeper
...what I was getting at is the question of the direct application of the forms. Since I practice other arts and read in genneral about martial arts and physical activity I have a fair understanding of biomechanics and how to use your body to apply force. Given this understanding could If I were to learn forms from another martial art (I fingered so called internal schools simply because the ones you find scattered all over the place seem to all be realy soft and gentle) could I extrapolate usefull information.

Yes and no. To some extent you need a good, knowlegable instructor to explain the principles and corrrect your moves. But I can see a lot of the mechanics ("external") on my own. I can even pick out a lot of the principles. One really difficult thing to pick up on your own is that Taiji MOVES differently than the arts you are familiar with. The Yili guys can probably explain it better than I can, but basically what you think of as moving from your center is probably not even close to what you'd learn in a Taijiquan class. You really have to experience it to understand it.
 
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