Sifu Hsu: internal vs. external (revisited)

OP
mantis

mantis

Master Black Belt
Joined
Sep 30, 2005
Messages
1,488
Reaction score
5
Location
SoCal
green meanie said:
It's not the product of 'clean living' either and I don't particularly care for sentiment that internal training = 'kind, considerate, good people' and external training = 'arrogrant thugs, bullies, bad people'. Maybe it's just me but, the way I interpreted Sifu Hsu's quote was that you need to build a solid base in external training before any progress in internal training can be achieved. Am I looking at this the wrong way?

yeah i have to agree with you. i do not know where that moral argument came from. i think Hsu sifu was trying to say you get a point of control and complexity in your techniques where you can deliver enough energy without using force. it's funny but i am coming to think that in this entire forum no one really understands what external/internal means. which is fine because we're all students and we're here to discuss/learn things. maybe this is a weak point that we all have and maybe we should do more research/practice on it.
 

Wes Tasker

Orange Belt
Joined
Jul 10, 2003
Messages
87
Reaction score
7
Location
Somerville, MA
it's funny but i am coming to think that in this entire forum no one really understands what external/internal means.

Where do you get that idea? I think Buddy (Gaoguy) but it best in his albeit haiku-like fashion. I think there are plenty of people here who know the difference between "internal" and "external". It's not that complicated. Doing things "internaly" though is a whole other ballgame. It gets messy when people have their own personal and/or stylistic definitions of "internal" and "external". But let's not forget that this distinction using these terms is not very old...

-wes tasker
 

Gaoguy

Orange Belt
Joined
Jan 16, 2006
Messages
98
Reaction score
0
Haiku-like, thank you Wes. I wasn't trying to be deliberately obscure but as many of you may know this is a subject that has been done to death. My own experience is that within particular areas of northern China there seems to be more common training methods that develop a particular body movement that seems to be less prevelant in other areas style. Xu Laoshi's teacher had a saying-"Northern Chinese Martial Arts are all Sons of the same Mother" Liu Yun Qiao.
While I don't always see this body method in all of the long armed styles (Chaquan, etc) you can find many similarities to xingyi, taiji, bagua, in baji. pigua, tongbei.

 

green meanie

Master Black Belt
Joined
Dec 13, 2005
Messages
1,112
Reaction score
5
Location
Pennsylvania, USA
Gaoguy said:
Haiku-like, thank you Wes. I wasn't trying to be deliberately obscure but as many of you may know this is a subject that has been done to death. My own experience is that within particular areas of northern China there seems to be more common training methods that develop a particular body movement that seems to be less prevelant in other areas style. Xu Laoshi's teacher had a saying-"Northern Chinese Martial Arts are all Sons of the same Mother" Liu Yun Qiao.
While I don't always see this body method in all of the long armed styles (Chaquan, etc) you can find many similarities to xingyi, taiji, bagua, in baji. pigua, tongbei.


You seem to really know your stuff! Thanks for the info. :asian:
 

7starmantis

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 13, 2002
Messages
5,493
Reaction score
50
Location
East Texas
green meanie said:
It's not the product of 'clean living' either and I don't particularly care for the sentiment that internal training = 'kind, considerate, good people' and external training = 'arrogrant thugs, bullies, bad people'. Maybe it's just me but the way I interpreted Sifu Hsu's quote was that you need to build a solid base in external training before any progress in internal training can be achieved. Am I looking at this the wrong way?

I agree 100%, it is a certain type of body mechanics or methods. Training doesn't change a persons personality or makeup regardless of what kind of training it is. I think you took Sifu Hsu's quote the correct way. I believe that myself. I just think there are many misconceptions as to what "internal" training is. I think they exist partly because of the label itself. Many times "internal" is used to explain "soft" or relaxed mechanics, ie yielding, moving, centered, low stances, etc. Many times its viewed as hard vs soft. I think there is quite a bit to internal training but I do believe it requires external as well. Its not a mindset or drive to achieve, it is specific body mechanics that are much different than "external" mechanics. I do think they work together quite nicely though.

7sm
 

brothershaw

Purple Belt
Joined
Jan 12, 2003
Messages
332
Reaction score
6
Location
New York
7starmantis said:
I agree 100%, it is a certain type of body mechanics or methods. Training doesn't change a persons personality or makeup regardless of what kind of training it is. I think you took Sifu Hsu's quote the correct way. I believe that myself. I just think there are many misconceptions as to what "internal" training is. I think they exist partly because of the label itself. Many times "internal" is used to explain "soft" or relaxed mechanics, ie yielding, moving, centered, low stances, etc. Many times its viewed as hard vs soft. I think there is quite a bit to internal training but I do believe it requires external as well. Its not a mindset or drive to achieve, it is specific body mechanics that are much different than "external" mechanics. I do think they work together quite nicely though.

7sm


1.EXternal mechanics are different from internal mechanics
2. While practicing any art over time you will get more efficient at using it I dont think it will necessarily become "internal" ,meaning you may become more efficient using but still not use internal mechanics....
3. A given art can be yielding yet still not be internal, so hard/ soft is not necessarily a good distinction
4. Adam hsus quote is pretty good
5. I think often people want to claim/ believe that time will make what they do internal but its not just a time factor there is also the factor of what and how you do things,
6.A good fighter is a good fighter period, whatever you use it should be accurate and on point to stop the other guy
 
OP
mantis

mantis

Master Black Belt
Joined
Sep 30, 2005
Messages
1,488
Reaction score
5
Location
SoCal
brothershaw said:
1.EXternal mechanics are different from internal mechanics
2. While practicing any art over time you will get more efficient at using it I dont think it will necessarily become "internal" ,meaning you may become more efficient using but still not use internal mechanics....
3. A given art can be yielding yet still not be internal, so hard/ soft is not necessarily a good distinction
4. Adam hsus quote is pretty good
5. I think often people want to claim/ believe that time will make what they do internal but its not just a time factor there is also the factor of what and how you do things,
6.A good fighter is a good fighter period, whatever you use it should be accurate and on point to stop the other guy

with all due respect to all those who posted answers, i still do not understand what internal vs. external is. at least not clearly or explicitly. everybody is good at negating what's being said.
given what adam hsu said, or what you know from experience how is 'internal' training achieved?
how do you define 'internal' training?

i understand if none of us has a clear answer because not a lot of us have enough experience probably.
 

Gaoguy

Orange Belt
Joined
Jan 16, 2006
Messages
98
Reaction score
0
" with all due respect to all those who posted answers, i still do not understand what internal vs. external is. at least not clearly or explicitly."

So the fault lies in others? It's very difficult to understand without feeling it.

"given what adam hsu said, or what you know from experience how is 'internal' training achieved? how do you define 'internal' training?

It has to be shown.

" i understand if none of us has a clear answer because not a lot of us have enough experience probably."

See above. How's twenty years?
 

brothershaw

Purple Belt
Joined
Jan 12, 2003
Messages
332
Reaction score
6
Location
New York
mantis said:
with all due respect to all those who posted answers, i still do not understand what internal vs. external is. at least not clearly or explicitly. everybody is good at negating what's being said.
given what adam hsu said, or what you know from experience how is 'internal' training achieved?
how do you define 'internal' training?

i understand if none of us has a clear answer because not a lot of us have enough experience probably.



In an external style you actually start out using your body/structure LESS than internal styles, then over time you get better at the external style and then move even less than when you started because you became more efficient with your external style (nothing wrong with that)
Internal you have to learn to use your body/muscles/ alignment/ stance MORE which is alot of stuff to coordinate then when you have the coordination of everything you beigin to move LESS on the surface but still with the same coordination of everything internal.
From a fighting perspective external ways of moving work very good
so unless you experience internal methods first hand it is hard to visualize a different way its like someone saying they have come up with a new wheel but to the eye of someone who doesnt know where to look it looks like the same old wheel.
 

7starmantis

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 13, 2002
Messages
5,493
Reaction score
50
Location
East Texas
Very good post. I view it as a neccessity to build your external so as to have a good base for internal. Basically its like strengthening and conditioning your body to make it a good strong "vessel" to perform the internal.

7sm
 

chessman71

Yellow Belt
Joined
Apr 20, 2006
Messages
29
Reaction score
0
Adam Hsu can get away with a quote like that because all his stuff is northern CMA so it all has the same root. However, the quote is too broad considering that many people do non-northern CMA styles. To imply that "all roads lead to the top of the mountain," as the quote does, is to ignore the fact that most people are actually climbing different mountains in the first place.

I'm sure that Adam Hsu would agree if you asked him if the taekwondo school down the street from his school here in Taipei was on the same "path" that he is. :)

Unfortunately, those of you who have never trained an authentic IMA will never understand what it is from reading about it. I read obsessively about IMA for years before I actually got to learn one and none of what i had read accurately described the movement. You have to experience it.

Dave C.
 
OP
mantis

mantis

Master Black Belt
Joined
Sep 30, 2005
Messages
1,488
Reaction score
5
Location
SoCal
chessman71 said:
Adam Hsu can get away with a quote like that because all his stuff is northern CMA so it all has the same root. However, the quote is too broad considering that many people do non-northern CMA styles. To imply that "all roads lead to the top of the mountain," as the quote does, is to ignore the fact that most people are actually climbing different mountains in the first place.

I'm sure that Adam Hsu would agree if you asked him if the taekwondo school down the street from his school here in Taipei was on the same "path" that he is. :)

Unfortunately, those of you who have never trained an authentic IMA will never understand what it is from reading about it. I read obsessively about IMA for years before I actually got to learn one and none of what i had read accurately described the movement. You have to experience it.

Dave C.
which IMA are you learning/have you learned?
 

7starmantis

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 13, 2002
Messages
5,493
Reaction score
50
Location
East Texas
chessman71 said:
Adam Hsu can get away with a quote like that because all his stuff is northern CMA so it all has the same root. However, the quote is too broad considering that many people do non-northern CMA styles. To imply that "all roads lead to the top of the mountain," as the quote does, is to ignore the fact that most people are actually climbing different mountains in the first place.

I'm sure that Adam Hsu would agree if you asked him if the taekwondo school down the street from his school here in Taipei was on the same "path" that he is. :)
I dont think he was speaking only of what he does, ie northern kung fu. I dont see what different mountains northern and southern would be climbing. We should all be climbing the same mountain regardless of CMA orientation. To add to that, we should all be climbing the same mountain regardless of style and that includes your TKD example. Now, how many TKD schools are on the same path I'm on? I dont know, but all martial arts should lead to the same place. The problem is too many people have learned just pieces of styles and began teaching pieces of styles, so many things have been lost years ago. I would be interested to hear what you see as "different mountains" we would be climbing from TKD to CMA and from Northern to Southern CMA.

chessman71 said:
Unfortunately, those of you who have never trained an authentic IMA will never understand what it is from reading about it. I read obsessively about IMA for years before I actually got to learn one and none of what i had read accurately described the movement. You have to experience it.

Dave C.
I wouldn't be so quick to point out those who have not trained IMA, you might just come off as arrogant.

7sm
 

chessman71

Yellow Belt
Joined
Apr 20, 2006
Messages
29
Reaction score
0
7starmantis said:
I dont think he was speaking only of what he does, ie northern kung fu. I dont see what different mountains northern and southern would be climbing. We should all be climbing the same mountain regardless of CMA orientation. To add to that, we should all be climbing the same mountain regardless of style and that includes your TKD example. Now, how many TKD schools are on the same path I'm on? I dont know, but all martial arts should lead to the same place. The problem is too many people have learned just pieces of styles and began teaching pieces of styles, so many things have been lost years ago. I would be interested to hear what you see as "different mountains" we would be climbing from TKD to CMA and from Northern to Southern CMA.

I wouldn't be so quick to point out those who have not trained IMA, you might just come off as arrogant.

7sm

My "external" CMA training mainly came from bak sing choy lay fut, wing chun, and hung gar. My primary CIMA training has been in XYQ and BGZ under a few different teachers, as well as some training in piguazhang. I also did tangsoodo and karate for many years, as well as iaido in Japan. But I don't "count" those last few arts.

I consider myself as primarily a CIMA specialist but I still train in long fist because I find it useful.

Having trained all this stuff, I can say that I see a real difference in body mechanics between northern and southern CMA, and then the derivative arts that evolved from them (karate, etc.).

Several things come to mind: having "peng" structure in movements, moving according to the "liu he" or six harmonies, NOT tensing up at the moment of impact, not using muscle tension to make the technique work, much fewer overt "blocking" movements, no independent arm movement (body should move, not the arm), etc.

These things are trained by almost all of the nothern systems that I have studied and almost all of them are broken (generally speaking) by the southern arts and their Japanese counterparts that I trained. I trained in those arts enough to know that it isn't that instructors have "parts of the system" but that their whole approach tends to be technically different.

Three caveats: 1. some of the things I mentioned are occasionally found in southern systems. The choy lay fut that I trained was bak sing, meaning northern-influenced. So it actually had quite a few of the northern characteristics that I mentioned. But then, that's what made it different from the other two hung sing branches. Bak sing power generation was different.

2. The northern characteristics that I listed don't necessarily imply superiority, IMO. I do believe that they build economy of movement and can generate a lot of relaxed power. HOWEVER, let's just say that relaxed efficient movement isn't always the best for health because it doesn't give enough of a robust workout.

The healthiest, strongest individual I know is a 70-year-old FuJian monkey stylist who has the body of a 30-year-old athelete. His art is extremely tense and he would blow through any taiji stylist that i know. While I feel his stuff is worth learning, it isn't the same as the IMA I know. Both are useful, but THEY ARE DIFFERENT.

3. None of this really implies more fighting prowess on the northern side of the fence. I have noticed a tendency of northern stylists to get "wrapped up" in northern style mechanics to the extent that they never get around to fighting. I also have met more southern stylists who could fight than northern. Hung gar in particular produces great fighters.

So, sorry if I'm coming across as arrogant. If people feel that way, then so be it. I've trained these styles and I know the difference. I do think that the northern/southern branches each have their specialties and those should be respected. But that does not mean that they are the exact same thing. And saying that shouldn't make me arrogant.
 
OP
mantis

mantis

Master Black Belt
Joined
Sep 30, 2005
Messages
1,488
Reaction score
5
Location
SoCal
nice resume
it's too long to quote here!
I did not think your answer was arrogant, but i have to say that humility is a manner harder to achieve than any other training.
btw, what's Hung Gar like?
 

chessman71

Yellow Belt
Joined
Apr 20, 2006
Messages
29
Reaction score
0
Hung gar is an interesting system. It's southern in nature and practiced a lot in Hong Kong. Depending on your branch, it's mix of five elements, five animals, and lau gar family style. It's often called "tiger crane" because those two animals get emphasized more than dragon, leopard, and snake.

There are a couple of cool, unique features to the art. One is the emphasis on bridge hand/arm training. Hung gar stylists like to train their forearms to "bridge" and connect with the opponent. They stress grip strength and conditioning the forearms to take blows.

Second is the iron wire form -- their version of internal or "chi" training. This form uses tension to move the "chi" and seems to be one of the power builders of the style. I never actually learned it but I saw it a few times and I thought it looked interesting. Hung gar people are the only ones I know that do it.

What i didn't like about the style has to do with the topic at hand. One of the first forms I learned (I did the Taiwan version called hong quan) was the tiger form and it used lots of tension throughout the form. The hands were in the claw position throughout the form and in most moves, we were expected to really contract the muscles in order to make the moves work. I think this was developmental in nature, the form was done that way to build power.

Problem is, when you do your fighting form like that, it reinforces using raw muscle power to do the moves, the very opposite of the IMA. I noticed that the same tension started showing up in my XYQ and BGZ and I didn't like that. When I asked my teacher what to do about that, he said stop practicing XYQ and BGZ and just do hong quan. No way was I gonna do that so I quit.

That's one of the reasons that I said this stuff is not all the same.

Dave C.
 

7starmantis

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 13, 2002
Messages
5,493
Reaction score
50
Location
East Texas
chessman71 said:
Having trained all this stuff, I can say that I see a real difference in body mechanics between northern and southern CMA, and then the derivative arts that evolved from them (karate, etc.).
I agree with that, body mechanics is different from style to style. What I was refering to is your statement about "climbing a different mountain". The quote from Adam Hsu made refrence to the differences but said we should be looking at the same goal, you disagreed. What is so different about the goal of a northern or southern CMAist? See, I believe the pure core principels are (or should be) the same. I'm talking of yielding to force, controling the center, etc. Those things are not different from Northern to Southern CMA and really shouldn't be different from JMA to CMA, but all too often are.

chessman71 said:
Several things come to mind: having "peng" structure in movements, moving according to the "liu he" or six harmonies, NOT tensing up at the moment of impact, not using muscle tension to make the technique work, much fewer overt "blocking" movements, no independent arm movement (body should move, not the arm), etc.
Ok, moving according to a style specification is most assuredly going to be different from one style to the next, but what of the core principles? Your listing those different approaches. The way of controling the center of your opponent may be independent arm movement or total body alignment, but the intent is still to control the center. Is one way of achieving that better than the next? Thats a whole different discussion, but the intent should be the same. Fewer blockign motions is simply a stylistic approach to fighting, but I still have seen nothing that supports "we are climbing different mountains".

chessman71 said:
These things are trained by almost all of the nothern systems that I have studied and almost all of them are broken (generally speaking) by the southern arts and their Japanese counterparts that I trained. I trained in those arts enough to know that it isn't that instructors have "parts of the system" but that their whole approach tends to be technically different.
Ok, there has been great loss in many systems over the years, thats just fact. I would say in all systems. But your still listing approaches, which I agree will be different. But what you need to ask is, "Approahes to what"? That answer should be the same across the board.

chessman71 said:
2. The northern characteristics that I listed don't necessarily imply superiority, IMO. I do believe that they build economy of movement and can generate a lot of relaxed power. HOWEVER, let's just say that relaxed efficient movement isn't always the best for health because it doesn't give enough of a robust workout.
Thats just incorrect. IMO I would view that kind of mentality as naive when it comes to fighting. This is a huge mistake that is all too common in martial arts. Efficient does not mean lazy, slow, easy, inferior, or any of the things you would apply to "less of a robust workout". Ok, let me try to explain myself. A workout is a workout. Practicing a style that teaches efficient movement in fighting doesn't lessen a workout. Thats absurd. Many people misunderstand "relaxed" and dont realize that your body can be both "hard" and "soft" at the same time. Its called disconnection, your right arm may be hard (peng) while your left arm may be soft (jim). Its the ability to manipulate back and forth and the correct time that is effective. To say, "I would rather not train in a system that teaches efficient movement because I want a good workout" is absolutely absurd. We workout harder than most I've seen, northern, southern, CMA, JAM, FMA, etc. Its not the style that sets your workout, but the individual and teacher. Plus, I think your southern stylist would take a stand against them not using efficient movement.

chessman71 said:
The healthiest, strongest individual I know is a 70-year-old FuJian monkey stylist who has the body of a 30-year-old athelete. His art is extremely tense and he would blow through any taiji stylist that i know. While I feel his stuff is worth learning, it isn't the same as the IMA I know. Both are useful, but THEY ARE DIFFERENT.
Thast great, but that is just your own observations. He may be the healthiest person you know, but that doesn't imply his style produces healthier people. I also dont like to use absolutes when dealing with martial arts, to define a fighter by his style is a mistake, its not the style that makes the fighter but the individual. You'll see that trend all over the place.
Your correct, they are different in approach. It just takes a while to really see to similarities. Plus, I'm not refering to the people you know specifically, I'm talking abotu the system itself, the goals "should" be the same, if they aren't you might want to ask why.

chessman71 said:
3. None of this really implies more fighting prowess on the northern side of the fence. I have noticed a tendency of northern stylists to get "wrapped up" in northern style mechanics to the extent that they never get around to fighting. I also have met more southern stylists who could fight than northern. Hung gar in particular produces great fighters.
Again, you seem to base all your beliefs on personal biases. Because you have met better fighters in souther styles than norther means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. Maybe you should get out and meet more northern fighters? I dont disagree that hung gar produces great fighters. What we are actually discussing is that hung gar's fighters and northern mantis fighters should be focused on the same intent, although reaching it in different ways.

chessman71 said:
So, sorry if I'm coming across as arrogant. If people feel that way, then so be it. I've trained these styles and I know the difference. I do think that the northern/southern branches each have their specialties and those should be respected. But that does not mean that they are the exact same thing. And saying that shouldn't make me arrogant.
No, you didn't come across as arrogant yet, I was trying to say that using words like "some of you" might be taken as arrogant by people reading your posts. Ie this statement:
chessman71 said:
Unfortunately, those of you who have never trained an authentic IMA will never understand what it is from reading about it.
Thats all I was saying.
Yes, I agree that northern and southern have their own specialties, but they are simply different methods of reaching the same goal, no?
What goal or "mountain" is so different from northern to southern CMA?

7sm
 

Latest Discussions

Top