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 Post subject: Internal vs. External
PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 1998 7:48 am 
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Mr. Sigman wrote:

There are two main points in this discussion. The primary point I was trying to make was that in my opinion there can be no serious study of push-hands by Uechi practitioners if they have no usage of the core strength of the internal martial arts. It would simply be an external, technique-oriented exercise that missed the point. That was my simple suggestion.

The other issue has been the discussion of the idea that Uechi Ryu does indeed contain elements of the internal martial arts. It is probably best to table that particular issue until I meet with someone who can demonstrate what is meant by "internal" as you and Bill consider it.

--------------------------------

Mr. Sigman,

Perhaps it would be best for you to define your terms.

Just exactly what is your definition of internal strength and external strength.

I have been practicing Uechi-ryu for 25 years with many different instructors. Not one instructor has ever told me that they consider Uechi-ryu to be an "internal" Martial Art.

Uechi Kanbun did name the style "PanGaiNoon" which in the Fujian Amoy dialect may be translated as "half-hard/half-soft". I believe the "soft" component of the system lies in the varying approaches and techniques we have to dodge, deflect and deliver attacks.

I have heard instructors say, and my practice confirms, that our primary kata, Sanchin, builds strength through conditioning and dynamic tension. The practice of Sanchin also disciplines the mind and calms the spirit.

If the above benefits of the practice of Sanchin is what you refer to as internal strength then I think we have reached common ground.

My other question still remains:

What difference does it make whether we classify strength as internal or external? The qualitative and quantitative measure of our practice should be gauged by utilitarian means and not connotative semantic differentiations.

Best regards,

Mike


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 Post subject: Internal vs. External
PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 1998 8:49 pm 
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Hi, Mike

You bring up some very valid, outcome-oriented points. In the end it shouldn't matter as long as we get the job done.

There are geeks among us, though, who want to codify and classify. Unfortunately the martial arts in this country are immature, and its practitioners are often not a lot better than that in their language and character. It creates confusion and conflict whenever discussion is necessary.

If we all did things the same way, perhaps none of this would be necessary. Because there are some like myself who walk in many different circles, it's possible to view an array of approaches to the art we call by one name. So what IS this art anyhow if there are so many different ways of doing it? And is it reasonable to expect limits in what is "proper" and "improper" in our style among those that can get the job done?

My purpose in engaging the Mr. Sigmans of the world is to learn more about myself and my art. Because of geographic considerations, I have needed to seek instruction from outside my own system to advance my martial knowledge. In the history of martial arts this has actually been much more common than what exists now where we may be able to standardize via the still and moving visual media.

I think it's always healthy to draw from outside. The style continues to grow and flourish, and we avoid the "inbred" mentality which creates legions of fighters that are a danger only to themselves. However I can tell you that I have spent more time discarding what was not useful than finding common understandings that I could grow from. It's a difficult process, but in the end people like myself have much to contribute to the style from the experience.

I go back to a politician (D'Israeli I think) who once said "People should never watch sausages and laws being made." The point could be made as well right here. It's the endpoint that defines whether or not this particular journey was useful. But even if we pick up absolutely nothing from Mr. Sigman, I think you will see that there has been a lot of good accomplished along the way. At the very least, we all have been challenged to define who we are (and who we are not).

Thanks for your insight.

Bill


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 Post subject: Internal vs. External
PostPosted: Thu Dec 31, 1998 4:56 am 
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Bill,

I understand that you are a scientist and it is in your nature to explore, question and analyze. I am also an exponent of learning from "outsiders" so long as they have something of value to demostrate and/or share. Has Mr. Sigman offered anything of value, yet, to this discussion?

His and "the Wag's" claim that the internal body mechnanics involved in "push hands" cannot be transmitted via this electornic forum seems to defy logic.

Previously, I had asked you and/or Doctor X to break down the Sanchin strike from a bio-mechnaical perspective. Each you told me that this could be done but the description would have no meaning for those of us who are not versed in biomechanics. Your point was well-taken but I know full well that each of you would be up to the task.

I am not sure if Mr. Sigman or "the Wag" would be up to the task of defining their own terms and providing such descriptions for their internal body mechanics.

How can we expect to discuss a topic if there is no common understanding of the terms to be employed?

I also wish that Mr. Sigman or "the Wag' explain why someone who has sucessfully dealt punishment out to Mr. Gang Banger should care as to whether the power had been generated internally or externally.
Additionally, does it really matter to Mr. Gang Banger as to how this power was generated?

It appears to me that both Mr. Sigman and "the Wag" are playing the equivalent of "my stick is bigger than your stick". OK, fine but what proof do they offer for this implication?

Oh and I do so humbly beg that they refrain from the "you have to see it to believe it" b.s.

Mike


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 Post subject: Internal vs. External
PostPosted: Fri Jan 15, 1999 7:47 pm 
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I think it's very interesting that arguments relating to "internal vs. external" and questions relating to "breath control" should appear in such close proximity. Why is this "hard/external" art concerned about things like breath control? Just kidding.
There's a lot that has been said about the distinctions between the internal and external, most of which doesn't hold a lot of water in my book. It's sort of like we're revisiting the mind - body issue.
From a scholarly perspective, everyone should read "Chinese Boxing: The Internal Versus External Schools in the Light of History and Theory" by Stanley Henning in Asian Martial Arts Journal, Vol. 6, No. 3, 1997. Henning does a great job of debunking this artificial distinction.
From a practical perspective, martial arts certainly does not have a monopoly on the cultivation and strategic deployment of intrinsic energy. Watch a rodeo, or an Olympic lifting contest, or a fight between two animals. There's plenty of breath control, fajin, and yes, even dim mak at least as pertains to the animals fighting.
I talked to a very experienced T'ai Chi Sifu last week who commented that it is always amusing to him when people come in and want to get enlightened and in touch with their qi and then have puzzled expressions when the training involves sweating and trembling muscles.
I think Uechi-Ryu has enormous work to do in the exploration of its "internal" elements and am very thankful that our seniors are open and inviting of that avenue of research.


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 Post subject: Internal vs. External
PostPosted: Sat Jan 16, 1999 12:05 am 
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Interesting comment about the animals David! I was going to film Tia (My Pitbull) playing tug of war with me! She weighs 50 pounds and has never heard of Chi or internal vs external, but she definately has the best of it all!

If I have time, I'll take that video and post it here.

------------------
GEM


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 Post subject: Internal vs. External
PostPosted: Sat Jan 16, 1999 8:00 am 
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I draw constant inspiration from my bull dog, Barney. In fact a good part of the last article that I published in Milo ("Self-Deception: Can You Afford It?" is dedicated to him. Barney and Tia could give us all a seminar in awareness, honesty, courage, and commitment.
The internal vs. external arguments are very difficult to deal with for all the reasons mentioned in the thread. I think that the difficulty in communicating about such issues is not limited to vested interests however. I think these concepts are just very difficult to describe. Barney and Tia can only show us by example. The riders and ropers in the rodeo have probably busted their butts and many other body parts for years to learn many kinds of jin (power) but how adaquately would they be able to verbally communicate these understandings? Most high level practitioners that I've trained with ultimately have used tactile learning to demonstrate the "internal" stuff they've been trying to get across. I don't really mean feedback by way of a punch or kick to point out weaknesses in defense (that too,) but rather taking your hand and allowing you to feel what they're doing. This doesn't mean the phenomenon is not real only that it is very difficult to describe with the available vocabulary.


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 Post subject: Internal vs. External
PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 1999 6:29 am 
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To Dave:

Thanks for your input. I am cognizant of the difficulties in transmitting and elucidating physical movement thorugh electronic or written media. However, the panegyric ramblings of Mr. Sigman were a little too much to take.

A recent colloquy with a comrade who holds dan rank in Uechi and significant experience in Chinese systems has provided enlightenemnt for my martial soul. I now believe that the application of "internal strength" is shorthand for efficiency of muscle motion. (At least that is how my limited consciousness can translate the concepts espoused so ineloquently by Mr. Sigman.)

My dear friend (Doctor X) may cringe and start banging away on his keyboard (after having withstood a 14 hour operation and 3 double espressos) about how poorly we communicate regarding these matters and how we should all have a thorough understanding of physiology and neuromusculature before weighing in on such topics.

Well, it is apparent that this type of textbook knowledge, while helpful in explaining technique, is not required to learn and teach this sytem. IMHO, what is required to learn and teach any system (aside from motivation, discipline, etc.) is an understanding of the effects of any technique that you learn or teach, as well as a basic understanding of how to generate power and neutralize any opponent's power.

The generation of power comes down to one basic law of physics: Force = Mass x Acceleration. Presumably, our hands or feet do not vary, significantly, in mass, from day to day (although Doctor X could probably give a explanation of how and why hands and feet do change gradually as the years go by or how they may swell and contract as the day goes by). This being the case, the only practical way for any one of us to generate more force is to continually improve the acceleration of our strikes. (I won't even try to explain how to generate a pulsing punch which sends a shock wave through a target since I haven't developed this ability, but I do know that there are Seniors on this forum that can do just that.) So how do we improve this acceleration? Well, damned if I know. I can only say that constantly improving and working on body alignment, breath control and development of proper muscle control may do the trick. Aha, so now we are back full-circle. Is efficiency of muscle motion = development of proper muscle control, breath control and body alignment = "internal strength/dynamics"? If so, then I have to ask isn't it plausible that Uechi exponents, who have consistently and effectively disabled opponents, developed the generation of force through the above mentioned law of physics and as a result are generating power via "internal strength"?

Now due to Doctor X's reluctance to measure ad evaluate a Sanchin strike by 'wiring up" yours truly (whose strike is as close to perfection that exists. 'Yeah right- I have seen better performance from a one-legged blind man' - Doctor X's editor) we will lose an opporutinity to scientifically study and review the physiological and neurological factors which are critical to generating destructive power. HMM, just think if he actually did this, he could write a peer-reviewed paper for submission to one of those "highly respected" MD rags.

Awaiting any and all thoughts.

Mike


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 Post subject: Internal vs. External
PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 1999 8:21 am 
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Mike, enjoyed reading your post and it's unfortunate that the scientific community apparently is just not ready for you. Their loss.
There's a lot of good stuff to talk about in your post but I'm too tired to tackle much right now - hopefully tomorrow. What did catch my eye though was the focus on technical content. IMHO (love that!) technique is probably the second or probably even third most important factor in a real fight. First being fighting heart, second being physical conditioning (raw strength, cardiovascular less important, and ability to withstand hurt which may be as much a function of #1 as #2), and then only in third place is technique.
My brother Carl was telling me about a famous budoka who was asked "how do you punch so hard sir?" His response was "hit 'em with hate...hit 'em with hate."


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 Post subject: Internal vs. External
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 1999 6:01 pm 
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Gang

Interesting thread. Amazing what happens when the egos are absent.

A few thoughts:

1) I think I need to remind everyone that, while Mike Sigman occasionally displayed arrogance, he only claimed that what they were doing was DIFFERENT, and not better. He only indirectly inferred that he was better by making disparaging remarks about everyone else who practiced "tai chee". Now do you see the difference? Confusing, isn't it? No wonder the temperature got so hot!

2) You might find it amusing that our guest thought the Journal of Asian Martial Arts was a rag sheet, and very far from a peer-reviewed publication. Good thing we have better sources to go to, like people that say (and think) they are good guys.

Enough trashing. I'll be constructive.

3) This "ability" in the "internal" arts (whatever that means) is - in my opinion - a collection of abilites that are commonly seen together and are given a singular label. Thus the advent of the western use of the "chi" cliche. All this voodoo reminds me of the days of my Catholicism of youth. Many Catholics were upset when they got rid of latin in the mass. "I feel more holy when I say the prayers in latin" my sister said. Oh good grief! No wonder they made the changes.

4) I can tell you ONE of the abilities that I describe as falling into the realm of such that some like to call "internal".

Just last Thursday I had a handful of dan candidates in the room working on dan kumite. We do a version of number 4 that is a block of a flying side kick, and the defense is an interpretation of the circular movement unique to seiryu kata. First, I grabbed Amir, one of my grasshoppers in the class. I had him repeatedly do a flying side kick torwards me.

* In the first scenario, I did a straight on trapping motion similar to the one seen in Master Uechi's kihon. You make a "V" with your arms in front of you and just absorb the power of the kick. Perhaps you slide back a bit so that the jolt isn't as bad. Most would consider this an external block.

* In the second scenario, I pointed out how two simple steps can put you beside the path of the freight train. It's the bull-and-the-toreodore scenario that Cassius Clay first used to beat Sonny Liston. Just step out of the way!

* In the third scenario, I pointed out how you could softly place one arm out on the extending kick to "feel" where it was, which made it easier to take your other hand and grab the shoulder. With practice, the kicker barely knows you are there, and just senses that they are being snatched out of the air.

* In the fourth scenario, I pointed out the many ways that you could start working with this energy being projected towards you. At first, I just showed how I could drop Amir exactly where I wanted him to go. The look on his face was priceless. His sense was that he didn't know what was happening. This kind of soft control takes YEARS of practice.

* In the final scenario, I pointed out how you could reorient someone in space so that they would come down head first. What makes this such a special feat is that - if you do it right - it takes almost no energy to reorient someone when they are suspended in air. Most people never experienc this because they haven't learned "the touch". That can roughly be defined as not changing the translational momentum of the kicker. Since we didn't have mats there that day, I froze the motion and did it slowly. While Amir didn't get the pleasure of that amusement-park-like ride, it is something that David Powell and Bruce Hirabayashi and I used to do to each other for "sport". DON'T TRY THIS IF YOU CAN'T DIVE-ROLL ON A HARD FLOOR!!!!!

Just one (1) example of "internal" ability - in my opinion.

But...it can't be right because I just described it! The majic is gone!!

Bill

[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 01-18-99).]


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 Post subject: Internal vs. External
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 1999 9:22 pm 
Bill Glasheen wrote:


> Interesting thread. Amazing what > happens when the egos are absent.

[snip a fairly self-absorbed message]


> Just one (1) example of > "internal" ability - in my opinion.

> But...it can't be right > because I just described it! The majic is > gone!!

Hello All:

I was belatedly responding to an invitation to read some of the threads on your list about the internal martial arts. Like a couple of other people who responded I know Mike Sigman and I can see where he thinks this is humorous stuff.

He detests pecking order groups and titles and I can see from what I've read that this group would naturally think anyone was arrogant who didn't recognize the pecking order. Mexican standoff. He's aware of pecking orders and titles. It wouldn't hurt this group to realize that anyone who doesn't defer to the obvious hierarchy of this list is entitled to their differences too without being called "arrogant" and all the other trash you heaped on him.

Personally I like good martial arts and I've made an attempt to do them for 23 years. I've seen what Sigman can do and it has nothing to do with any of the vague guesses I've seen on the several threads involving your discussions. My thought when I read this last bit by Glasheen was that you're wrong and your chances of learning were negligible, too. Still I had to post to let you know that as an outsider reading your list you come across as an embarrassingly self-preoccupied group with a few too many air heads (where did you get this Lori character from?)doing a lot of role playing.

Instead of guessing what things are, you should go out and ask around with the experts, whether it's the internal arts or the external arts. And close your list down to members only. Anyone can read this crap, as it stands.

I'm going back to reading groups that are interested in exploring and not so much in patting themselves on the back.

Bill


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 Post subject: Internal vs. External
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 1999 9:53 pm 
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Oh my! But Bill, why don't you tell us what you REALLY think?

You presume a lot about us too, Mr. Aksteter. What makes you think we've never seen taiji before? It might surprise YOU if you came to one of our camps and actually saw the diversity within our group. It might surprise YOU if you knew that taiji existed outside your group.

I never assumed that Mr. Sigman had nothing to contribute. I never assumed that us guys and youse guys were doing the exact same thing. If you have a unique niche, wonderful! I AM disappointed and in fact skeptical because Mr. Sigman et al claim your niche cannot be properly articulated. But that's your cross to bear. One day we will cross paths and get to see first hand. But frankly I haven't seen a lot of behavior that would make me want to buy a plane ticket. I'd rather work with artists from the big three that don't carry the same baggage. There are indeed plenty out there with open doors and minds, and giving dispositions.

In the mean time, sorry if the smart-mouthing offends. We are quite harsh towards each other; perhaps you are not used to people being questioned in your own circle. Maybe the behavior was ungentlemanly, but the behavior did not occur in a vacuum. And no, we will not close the list. We believe that the open light of day does much to reduce the B.S. factor. Our doors are and will remain open, as long as reasonable decorum is maintained. Truth isn't always spoken, but it does have a marvelous ability to rise to the surface.

I understand the frustration. However you also must understand that this is OUR house. Mike sent me copies of his posts to the neijia list about his exchange with us. To say the very least, his tone was no less insulting. Just remember though that the neijia list is HIS home and this is OURS. There is always going to be a home court bias. Such is life.

[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 01-18-99).]


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 Post subject: Internal vs. External
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 1999 10:13 pm 
I just picked up a book by Bruce Kumar Frantzis: The Power of Internal Martial Arts. I have just started to read it so I don't have much to offer right away. He has quite a background in martial arts beginning with Judo at 12 and then Karate. He took up Jujitsu and Aikido. Went to Japan and studied Karate, Judo, also and Aikido with the founder Master Morihei Ueshiba. He then got into the Chinese arts and went to China.

He has a great deal of information about different styles and how they relate between the external, external/internal and internal. He has a long part about external strength that starts with a brief separation between of what he feels is external and what is internal. Now please keep in mind that he goes on in much detail, but I thought this might lead into some good discussions:

"A fundamental concern in all martial arts focuses on how the body/mind connection is perceived. Does the practitioner conceive of the body as a separate external object to be trained to produce certain desired fighting abilities? Or does the practitioner let the mind enter the body (that is, feel the mind in the body), thereby creating a mind/body fusion to produce skills for fighting? When martial artists deliver blows, do they imagine their bodies moving like combatants in a Nintendo game (external approach), or do they literally feel everything that is happening inside their bodies and ultimately their minds (internal approach)?"

Just a starting point.

Rick

P.S. Warning to J.D. he is a Chi guy, but does say other good stuff, if you can handle it.


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 Post subject: Internal vs. External
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 1999 10:33 pm 
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Bill,
You clearly don't have any idea what you are talking about.
Maybe the problem is that the forum is not sufficienty hierarchical and disagreement and even occasional flaming is tolerated.
When you have had the opportunity to meet and train with Uechi folks perhaps you would have an experience base upon which to form a valid opinion.
I have trained in a variety of martial arts for the same period of time as yourself and continue to train in a Chinese art in addition to Uechi-Ryu, therefore please do not assume that I'm the member of a some cult like group with closed boundries to communication.
When you have experienced having your formal bow returned by a hug from the highest ranking Uechika in the U.S. you might have an experience upon which to base assertions about hierarchy. Similarly, if you had attended training sessions with another of our leadership and observed that his bow of mutual respect invariably lasts longer than your own, you might have something upon which to base insults.
Better yet, empty your cup and come to summer camp and you will witness (and hopefully participate in) a truely ecumenical gathering of martial artists.
New Subject
Frantzis' book is great. It has a lot of very good and accessible material on the internal arts. When you've read it, I believe, you'll be further on the way to realizing that there are a lot of different ways to describe the same phenomenon. I don't think there is a monopoly on the cultivation and strategic deployment of intrinsic energy. Think about it, if there were the chosen few would be throwing the hammer further than anyone else, posting unheard of records in the triple jump, and Evander Holyfield....look out!!!!!
'till then, don't pick a fight with a cowboy on the rodeo tour!!!!
David

[This message has been edited by David Elkins (edited 01-18-99).]


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 Post subject: Internal vs. External
PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 1999 2:21 pm 
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Gentlemen and Gentlewomen

I just received a very kind note from Mr. Sigman, who apparently checked the box on this thread to have an e-mail prompt sent for all posts on a specific topic. Mr. Sigman sent a gentlemanly, apologetic note even before reading the post from Mr. Aksteter.

It's easy to understand how folks can get emotional about some subjects. I've worked in college campuses (specifically the UVa grounds) enough to know that some subjects (abortion, animal rights, Mr. Jefferson's lineage, affirmative action, etc) cannot be broached without controversy. It's also easy to appreciate how an outsider can walk into this caustic dialogue and not appreciate what is "normal" for the group or understand how much of the abusive debating is tongue-in-cheek.

As always, we welcome outside input. We appreciate the audience, and do not mind being called when we don't know what we are talking about. As my wife often reminds me, it's difficult to embarrass me because I have no shame. I care less about my reputation and more about seeking the truth. Others have their own approaches, perspectives, and sensitivities. Hopefully future interaction will involve discourse on specific issues with a constructive goal in mind.

Sincerely
Bill

[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 01-19-99).]


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 Post subject: Internal vs. External
PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 1999 2:26 pm 
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I wanted to point out that the post from Mr. Elkins may be ambiguous. There are two Bills in this discussion. I received a rather strange e-mail about it.

But that's water under the bridge.

Bill (Glasheen)

[This message has been edited by Bill Glasheen (edited 01-19-99).]


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