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Thread: What actually makes an art 'internal'?

  1. #61
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    oops. wrong key
    Chris Thomas

    "While people are entitled to their illusions, they are not entitled to a limitless enjoyment of them and they are not entitled to impose them upon others."

    "Team Cynicism" MVP 2005-2006
    Currently on "Injured/Reserve" list due to a scathing Sarcasm pile-up.

  2. #62
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    Chris,
    I didn't get the sense that there was any arrogance or superiority issues happening here. Internal stuff is just generally weird -- it's about manipulating your own internal muscles, weight, etc. against an opponent's incoming attack, instead of using torque and acceleration to power a percussive or projectile counterattack. I spent over 20 years in external arts before "discovering" another world, and it's just completely different in its generation and delivery of power.

    I say "esoteric" because it is made of much smaller, subtler movements than we're used to generating "externally," and can't be shown to you visually; it has to be done TO you so you can feel what's being done.

    Anyway, there are a lot of people out there who say they are doing "internal" arts, but interpretations vary. You may have trained with some, but we have no idea what those individuals' skill sets are, or what you were experiencing. To that end, such discussions here are doomed to be fruitless.

    As has been noted, a lot of internal-power knowledge was lost with China's Cultural Revolution, when anyone with any intellectual acumen, formal learning or other knowledge was considered "dangerous," and killed or "repurposed." What remains has been carefully guarded in pockets and hidden places. So, the vast majority of people you see in the main stream, may well not have such knowledge. It is very jealously hoarded.

    But it's there. Many years ago, I had the fortune to encounter a visitor from China who had me come at him full force (I was a gung-ho karate and gungfu student in those days) with an attack. Seemingly without moving or even shifting his feet, the gentleman sent me flying across the room. A verrry subtle internal series of movements on his part redirected my own force and used it against me. If anything showed the true meaning of "stopping the spear" (as in the Chinese characters/Japanese kanji for "martial arts"), that was it.

    I appreciate your frustration, but all I can suggest is that when you find the real thing, you will definitely know it.
    Cady Goldfield

  3. #63
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    Cady

    Sorry, but that is my direct impression.

    I read sweeping generalizations about any number of things. I read people makeing highly judgemental remarks about folks they have never met in terms of whom is doing what "wrong."

    I read people asserting things as if they are according to Hoyle "facts" and when questioned about the specifcs of their statements---well things kinda fall apart.

    Don't know how many times in this discussion alone, internal arts were presented as being able to do "things" other arts/people can't--again sans proof.

    Other arts were presented in negative light as not being able to do "things"--again sans proof.

    Very early on in this discussion I suggested that if folks were REALLY interested in what makes a internal art "internal" a good place to start would be a comparison of the BIg Three internal styles and looking at what they have in common and what they do differently.

    That suggestion was ignored in favor of people repeating over and over again about whom/what they study is superior.

    And as a personal aside, I resent the assumption/implication that I neither have experiened the "real thing" nor would recognise it when I did.

    That is a good example of the "attitude" I was speaking of.

    Rather than treat it/me as a decent guy that simply differs in opinions---you couch it in terms that strongly imply I lack expereince--which is NOT the case.

    Don't think your trying to be smug--but that is how I read it.

    (not going to go home and hang myself over it
    Just trying to illustrate the attutide I was talking about. )
    Last edited by cxt; 11th November 2006 at 01:32.
    Chris Thomas

    "While people are entitled to their illusions, they are not entitled to a limitless enjoyment of them and they are not entitled to impose them upon others."

    "Team Cynicism" MVP 2005-2006
    Currently on "Injured/Reserve" list due to a scathing Sarcasm pile-up.

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    Jason,

    As a corollary to Mr. Svinth's post way back on page one, you could also see Draeger and Smith's Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts or Bruce Frantzis' The Power of Internal Martial Arts for somewhat academic discussions of the difference between external and internal arts.

    There is also a nifty book by Howard Reid entitled The Book of Soft Martial Arts, which has a short discussion of the internal arts as compared to the external. Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming also discusses this in a bunch of his books.

    You'll find different authors focusing on different things: training, qi, power generation, philosophy, etc.

    Like most of this stuff, nothing is nice and clear cut and everything has that ever-present haze of gray.

    Good luck in your search for answers.

    Kevin Cantwell

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    Quote Originally Posted by cxt
    hl

    I have no trust in videos---I can produce a video of me talking with alien beings from the Crab Nebula if you give me some time.

    (interesting beings--but a bit "stuffy" as they have 3 legs they are able to get much more of their body weight into blows without loseing balance the way we bipeds can--so they kinda make fun of us about it. )

    The best way to advance this conversation is by laying off claims that can't be supported.

    You "feel" one way--I "feel" another.

    The difference is that I'm not makeing claims based upon my "feelings."

    Look at the internal videos critically, and you will notice differences. Now if you want to construe those videos as having overly compliant partners in terms of how their bodies are effected, that is a valid criticisim (it certianly would look that way until you are struck in such a manner), but you will notice a theme throughout them.

    If you want to ignore evidence, thats your perogative.
    Hunter Lonsberry

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    Quote Originally Posted by cxt

    But Asura and company most certainly are, as you so aptly put, giving folks the "run around."
    I dunno, I put out exercises for people to try on Aikiweb, as well as an article on human movement as it relates to Martial movement ^^;
    Give it a read and tell me what you think. I'm pretty straightfoward, and if you ask me a direct question about this stuff I'll answer it as best I can.
    ------------------------
    Robert John

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    Robert, could you supply a link to the information you posted on aikiweb? I checked aikiweb, but I haven't spent much time there and I couldn't figure out exactly where to look.

    Best,
    David
    David Sims

    "Cuius testiculos habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum." - Terry Pratchet

    My opinion is, in all likelihood, worth exactly what you are paying for it.

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    The two I know of are here:

    Training the Body for Martial Movement, Part 1
    Training the Body for Martial Movement, Part 2: Exercises

    I like the second part more , and I'm pretty sure that someone somewhere posted a good overview of shiko, but I haven't been able to find it.
    Last edited by Tom H.; 13th November 2006 at 00:30.
    Tom Holz

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom H.
    The two I know of are here:

    Training the Body for Martial Movement, Part 1
    Training the Body for Martial Movement, Part 2: Exercises

    I like the second part more , and I'm pretty sure that someone somewhere posted a good overview of shiko, but I haven't been able to find it.
    There's an ok description of Shiko here at the Sumo federation website:
    http://www.sumo.or.jp/eng/kyokai/kenko_taiso.html

    They don't include specific instructions for how to work on weight shifting, and seperating your body into three axis etc...
    Two key points I'd pay attention to: When you do shiko you don't simply "raise" the leg seperately on its own. Rather it needs to initially be "pulled" along by the extremities of the body, in this case the arm.
    Second thing: When rising up, don't push the ground with the feet. Instead pull yourself up with the spine.
    Done right Shiko is an extremely effective body connection exercise
    ------------------------
    Robert John

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    Misquote cxt: "The strike didn't feel any different to me".
    Misquote reply: "Then it wasn't internal ma".

    Well, there's one answer to "What actually makes an art internal?" - the strikes should feel different. Also touched on were "the training methods are different".

    As for talking about the physics, I believe that has little value when talking about the martial arts. When the guys on the shooting forum talk about the effects of a bullet, they rarely talk about F=Ma and all that. The ydon't talk about computer simulations either. The best they can do, to discuss the effects of different rounds, is to use ballistic gel, and photograph it at high speed. This is because at high speeds and low mass the determining factor in the effect of a bullet is how the energy from pressure waves is distributed by the receiving body.

    Now a strike is low speed, medium mass event and not directly comparable to a bullet impact. Still the effect of how the energy is distributed by the striker and the struck is hard to model or describe in terms of physics.

    In fact it is almost impossible, because the striker and the struck can change their action and reaction during the strike, by use of their mind. I.e. they can both relax and tense their bodies in many different configurations. The computer programmmer cannot easily model "B rolls with the punch", or "A tenses close to impact due to his natural aversion to striking others".

    Another difficulty with talking physics, is that the brain can know how a movement should work, but a well coordinated movement happens only when the brain is thinking at a a tangent, and not about how the individual body parts are moving. Thus the description of the action, and the actual action are totally different.

    This is why you get statements like "move your chi into your hand". It's about using mental imagery to subtly affect your coordination, on a subconcious level.

    It's not totally different to ideas of "follow through" in tennis. The action you make after the ball leaves the racket cannot - scientifically - affect the ball. Yet it does. Because of the way the body and mind are subconciously working before you hit the ball. If you only talk scientifically about how the shot works you never get to the practical benefit.

    Finally, I've got nothing against physics. I got a degree in the subject. But physicists stick to talking about simple systems. Not body mechanics.
    Jonathan Adrian Treloar
    Perception is strong, Sight is weak - Musashi
    Right forearm is strong, Sight is weak - Treloar

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    Bod

    I'm staying out of any discussion concerning training specifics--as long as they don't "style bash" and as long as they stay on the up and up---no "snake oil."

    But I respectfully disagree that physics can't be useful when talking about martial arts.

    The problems you mention, (among others) with modeling an event are the EXACT problems one faces when trying to make claims about what a strike/technique is "supposed" to do.

    Thus, in my opinion, if one has such diffculty in simply modeling an event---then one should be VERY, VERY careful about what claims one makes.

    I respectfully suggest that saying--my paraphrase--"Its very tough to model" is simply a step away from "its too complex for anyone not trained by ME to grasp."

    An easy "out" so to speak.

    All kinds of things related to MA can be calculated, tested and modeled quite well.
    Chris Thomas

    "While people are entitled to their illusions, they are not entitled to a limitless enjoyment of them and they are not entitled to impose them upon others."

    "Team Cynicism" MVP 2005-2006
    Currently on "Injured/Reserve" list due to a scathing Sarcasm pile-up.

  12. #72
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    Tom, Robert, thanks for the links. Those are interesting reads.
    David Sims

    "Cuius testiculos habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum." - Terry Pratchet

    My opinion is, in all likelihood, worth exactly what you are paying for it.

  13. #73
    Dan Harden Guest

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    Quote Originally Posted by Asura
    There's an ok description of Shiko here at the Sumo federation website:
    http://www.sumo.or.jp/eng/kyokai/kenko_taiso.html

    They don't include specific instructions for how to work on weight shifting, and seperating your body into three axis etc...
    Two key points I'd pay attention to: When you do shiko you don't simply "raise" the leg seperately on its own. Rather it needs to initially be "pulled" along by the extremities of the body, in this case the arm.
    Second thing: When rising up, don't push the ground with the feet. Instead pull yourself up with the spine.
    Done right Shiko is an extremely effective body connection exercise
    Hi Rob
    I agree with all of what Rob states except I'd also concentrate on dividing the axis's into outer and inner as well. Rob we had talked about this before where I carry weight transfer on the outside and draw separately with the inside. I think it contributes to other things we do where it is more of the same zero-balance mutli-drectional work using inside and outside and contradictory forces in mutiple planes.
    A simple example for guys who want to try feeling a basic "innner/outer" work is to have someone push on a shoulder and learn to transfer and support the force on the opposite body line. If you carry the load on the outside of the opposite side and sink- you can draw up on the inside and attack in all angles independently. Thats very simple, but it works in Shiko with sinking and rising happening at the same time. I draw on the inside and lift and carry on the outside
    The real power comes in being able to maintain a neutral zero-balanced state with someone wailing on you or trying to throw you. The force of the thrower gets transfered back at them in multiple angles of "their attack" resulting in them locking themselves up or popping off you. There are some fun "tactile training exercies where you can "agree" with, say a pull, on you and they lose power to pull you.

    Chris. We should just bang and roll. I have no issues with your doubts. I just question the skill (not the rank or name, I could care less) of the internal players you have met if they cannot demonstrably display the difference. You may find internal skills in a MMA format quite interesting as a skill set. I'd probably have fun changing your mind about all this
    I completely dissagree with you about there not being a difference both in feel and in effect. Everyone I know, knows instantly that it is different.
    Cheers bud
    Dan
    Last edited by Dan Harden; 19th November 2006 at 03:35.

  14. #74
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    Dan

    Like I keep saying, there is little to nothing to change my mind about

    I have NO doubts as to the effectiveness or efficiency of the internal arts.

    My objections are with claims that can't be supported, general attiudes of superiority along with attendent assumptions--thats pretty much it.

    Beyond those those things, I'm staying out the conversation---which in terms of techniques and applications, seems to be a good one.

    Trust me or not--matters little to me, but the folks I have worked out with, would be familiar to you--esp on the Taji side of things.

    To use the same set of assumptions you make---perhaps the reason they feel litle different to me, is that being a climber, my sense of internal balance is more finely developed than most--thus the whole "unbalanceing" effect is largely wasted upon me.
    Last edited by cxt; 20th November 2006 at 02:03.
    Chris Thomas

    "While people are entitled to their illusions, they are not entitled to a limitless enjoyment of them and they are not entitled to impose them upon others."

    "Team Cynicism" MVP 2005-2006
    Currently on "Injured/Reserve" list due to a scathing Sarcasm pile-up.

  15. #75
    Dan Harden Guest

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    Hi Chris
    Fair enough. I hope that superiority thing isn't addressed to people other than methods. As a method I think they are superior. Demonstrably so. And can be used in any art. Its just a better way to live, climb, do physical labor, or martial arts. Beyond that anyone who feels *he* is superior because of the knowledge of these things is a fool.
    Again, internal skills are the pre-eminent means for using the body in the arts though.
    Cheers, and happy Thanksgiving
    Dan

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