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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 1999 5:35 am 
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Sorry.

Actually what I meant to say was that "Boxing" or "Thai Boxing" for that matter, while not necessarily "touting" or "claiming" their potential for self improvment still could hardly fail to contain "internal" elements. In this case I mean the claimed. perceived or actually ability to improve health and or well being of the practitioner.

I think, again, that systems which use Kata, Sets, or Forms have in them a powerful moving meditational tool to back up their claims. The Chinese arts pay a great deal of attention to this aspect of the Arts, hence the perception that they are "best" at it or "more"internal has some additional validity.

JOHN T.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 1999 6:17 am 
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Scaramouche:

"You know, I've heard this sort of thing before and still don't see much differnce."

Perhaps you have heard it before because there is some truth to it.

"For example, boxing is about as external as an art can be, but biomechanics (or "alignment") are incredibly important in delivering a good punch."

You said it - boxing is the quintessential external art, yet still has some commonalities with an internal art. As I've stated, it seems that even the most relaxed internal art must have some level of external muscle tension or application and the hardest external art must have some comprehension of rooting, breath control, hara/dantien,etc. in order to be effective beyond the limits of muscle, conditioning, etc.

However, just because an art focuses on a set of biomechanics and technique that furthers the art, doesn't necessarily mean that these biomechanics are "internal". As with all martial arts or better defined as martial sports, they are all uniquely created and developed to serve their purpose.

I can also assure you that while many soft/internal arts avoid sparring, some do not. Practice chi sao with an advanced uke and feel the body jarring strikes, experience the sweeps and leave with the solar plexus and upper chest covered with nice welts and bruises from the arrow punches and palm strikes finding your center.

Again, it seems that chi sao of Wing Chun, sticky hands training of Uechi and push hands of Taiji all come from a common internal technique.

Perhaps a better definition of internal arts are those that somewhat limit the focus of their approach to "standup grappling" and ignore or limit long distance practices.


JohnC


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 1999 8:06 am 
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Again, it seems that chi sao of Wing Chun, sticky hands training of Uechi and push
hands of Taiji all come from a common internal technique. Perhaps a better definition of internal arts are those that somewhat limit the focus of their approach to "standup grappling" and ignore or limit long distance practices.

JohnC

I have never heard Wing Chun referred to as an internal style before. I know several practicioners of the art, and have read a bit on it, and other Chinese arts (though I claim no expertise), and I thought that Hsing-I, Tai Chi, and Ba Gua are the arts usually thought of as the three well-known Chinese internal arts.

Many Filipino styles have a sensitivity drill called hubud lubud, which develops timing, distance, rhythm, skill at broken rhythm, as well as sensitivity (and this drill is sometimes done with eyes closed), and the FMAs are not usually called internal arts. (though as I pointed out Taoism was not terrribly influential in most of Southeast Asia, and the Filipino arts developed in a different philosopical framework).

Jun Fan Gung Fu (also called Jeet Kune Do) uses chi sao(from Wing Chun), but practicioners don't tend to think of themselves as internal stylists (unless they also study another internal art separately).

(Wing Chun and Bruce Lee's art also employ drills done on a wooden dummy to develop sensitivity and other attributes. I don't know how that fits in, but I thought i'd just mention it.)

Brazillian Jiu Jitsu players and other grapplers stress sensitivity, though they develop it differently, and they are not usually though of as internal stylists.

Even fencers have sensitivity exercises, and sensitivity is very important in sport fencing. I'm not sure that I'd call sport fencing an internal martial art though. Seems a stretch, even if we have not yet found a good exclusive definition for what is an internal art.

You say that the "chi sao of Wing Chun, sticky hands training of Uechi and pushhands of Taiji all come from a common internal technique." If you mean that they developed from the same source, I doubt it, and I suspect that one would have a hard time documenting a common origin. People in different places have shown a real talent at making similar discoveries.

If you mean that they all develop similar attributes and skills, well possibly, but since we can't even define "internal" in a way that excludes what is "external," that too would be difficult to pin down.

"However, just because an art focuses on a set of biomechanics and technique that furthers the art, doesn't necessarily mean that these biomechanics are "internal". As with all martial arts or better defined as martial sports, they are all uniquely created and developed to serve their purpose."

JohnC

I think that all martial art (wether for sport, civilian self-defense, war, spiritual development, character development, or indoctrinating a population) are uniquely created for a particular purpose. While a valid observation, I don't see how it helps create a better understanding of internal or external.

Since biomechanics deal with what is within the body, they seem pretty "internal" to me Image

Scaramouche


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 1999 2:10 pm 
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John C and Scaramouche:

I was trying to evolve in my mind a "floating definition" of internal which evolves perhaps more around the stated aims, goals or perceived /claimed/actual ability to affect "ones health or well being".

For purposes of definition I suggest that we consider including in the upper end/echelon of "internal arts" those that are "perceived" as having the highest actual or claimed positive effects on "preventitive human maintenance".

Then perhaps we can proceed to chacterize different systems.

I seems to me that before one can identify or consider, one (us) might have to arrive at a consensus if loose "definition".

I point out that I do not think that there are many "martial arts" devoid of
internal benefits or effects.

Can we take this approach perhaps first then "discuss" which belongs at which level.

I think Tai Chi, Ba Gua and Hsing I (admitted "0" knowledge of the latter) and the hybrid Ba Fa form are "touted" to and may be included in "internal arts". That's an opinion and it is partially uninformed.

But the point is to arrive at a loose defintion.

Nor do I think any touted "internal art" can be completely devoid of eexternal elements (technique or physical movement cataloguing and/or instruction)

Some thought has to be give to a loose and flexible definitional framework into one can place a given Martial Art or activity.

Although it sure is fun just to discuss what is and what isn't and to have hopefully friendly disagreements in that area.

respectfully submitted.

John T

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 1999 6:12 pm 
Hi John.

Hard helps the soft and vise-versa. Now I've been told that tai chi is an old man's kata...

Hard to define internal vs external? Smooth flowing vs bone crunching or using internal organs for power vs triceps and pecs or meeting force with redirection instead of head-on?

I thought I knew once and probably had a definition, maybe even a definition for each stage or plateau in my training. I'm not so sure anymore.

I am at a loss, JT. How would you loosely define internal vs external?

Allen

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 1999 6:49 pm 
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Allen:

Actualy I was hoping you and/or the forum would help me here.

But let's try a loose example:

Kata Sanchin (or any one):

Practiced as Moving meditation and/or with claims of or actual "healing" or health benefits=internal focus?

Practiced as a 'catalogue of biomnechanical tecniques"= extenal focus.

Practiced with both elements consciously in the mind=blend of external and internal.

Subjective. Depends on instructor-but maybe a starting point?

Help me out here pal.

JOHN

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 1999 5:44 am 
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JohnT, Scaramouche and Allen:


There seems to be a continuun of external/hard/tension to internal/soft/relaxation in the styles and approaches to the martial arts.

Taiji probably offers the most universally recognized style that lays fairly near the internal end of this spectrum, while hung gar or boxing offer styles probably closer to the external end of the spectrum, although we do not have a concensus on this in our little "thread run".

Apparently, there seems to be a possibility that while styles may have a primary emphasis towards one end of this spectrum, perhaps they have secondary aspects that may fall at different points along the spectrum which makes identifying or classifying an art in black and white terms as "external" or "internal" inaccurate or unwise.

I still feel we should be able to identify major traits that quantify or qualify as internal or external.

What are some essential qualities or traits of internal or external that seem clearly unique and mutually exclusive?

How about:

* Relaxed vs. Tensed
* Capturing energy vs. Applying energy
* Whipping/circular vs. Linear


Scaramouche:

My original point on the observation of each art having aspects developed for their purpose was simply to suggest that boxing may have aspects of biomechanics geared a certain way because of the rules of the sport, the arena, the overall goal, etc. that will intrinsically differ from a training technique from another art geared along a different purpose.

While WC may not be traditionally thought of as internal, anyone who has participated in both chi sao and push hands will discover there are commonalities that are intriguing. I was not suggesting at all that they share a root style commonality, simply observing the similarity between chi sao and push hand training.

I'm not sure I agree with your conclusion that since biomechanics deal with what is within the body they are inherently "internal". Perhaps another way to say this would be that both external and internal styles offer differing approaches to biomechanics. I don't know ...

In what specific ways do grapplers emphasize "sensitivity"? I've studied a little bit of jujitsu grappling and don't recall that much at all! Unless, you're speaking about making their ukes sensitive to their submission holds!

Finally, where do we "hear" and understand that Taiji, Hsing I, etc. are "internal" and what criterion and definitions do authors or other experts apply to these?(Same goes for "external") The source for me beyond simply anecdotal and personal training and experiences is Dr. Yang, Jwing Ming(Thanks David E.). He is 1 source that seems credible. Are their others?


JohnC


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 1999 6:48 am 
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OK-

relaxed versus tensed
linear versus circular
capturing versus releasing energy

The third is a bit obfuscatory in that in TAIJI and BAFA you gather and release, as you do in say the kata Sanchin, if in a less apparently relaxed fashion.

Sensei Toyama's Zankai, by report, does appear to practice this form a bit more "relaxed" and I think this is a valid interpretation, if not one you might use before a Uechi/Shohei test board.

So let's take meditaional/health benefits;
relaxed v. tensed, circular v. linear and gathering/capturing v. releasing energy

Kata Sanchin:

1. Certainly moderate meditational and health benefit claimed or apparent.
2. Most of the body emphasizes focus and some degree of tenseness in a sense.
3. Contains both circular and linear techniques maybe 40% circular 60% linear.
4. Emphasis "appears" at first blush to be primarily releasing, but it is also subtly gathered.

Therefore it appears this form is partially external and partially internal, leaning towards the external side to some extent.

Taiji Yang Form:

1. High meditational and preventive health benefits at least claimed.
2. The upper body is not tensed, but the legs are focused and therefore tensed during the set.
3. Some linear techniques, but mostly circular.
4. Appears to gather and manage energy in a more obvious/conscious way.

So this form is also partially internal and external, but leaning heavily towrds the internal.

Does this type of analysis help? Seems to.

Grappling: I am not a Judoka but a basic pricipal is to "push when pulled and pulled when pushed" to determine when to do what, you have to be aware of when your opponent is "pushing" or pulling".

My experience in this area is not high so another input would be better.

JOHN T

Taiji Yann

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 1999 12:15 am 
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All,

Ah, finally an aspect of this topic about which I can give an informed(?) reply.

I don't know that I would classify the classical Jujutsu I study - Tenshin Shintai Ryu (1688) as an internal art per se (although I must say that when a sharpened katana is headed for one's neck, a sense of internal balance is certainly useful!), but in terms of the question of "sensitivity," it is emphasized in the dojo in both the buki-ho (weaponed) and taijutsu (empty hand) aspects of the ryu. In my understanding, the kanji "ju" which means "pliant," or "yielding," certainly implies sensitivity.

Just my two cents.

greg


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 1999 10:09 am 
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"I still feel we should be able to identify major traits that quantify or qualify as internal or external. What are some essential qualities or traits of internal or external that seem clearly unique and mutually exclusive?"

"How about:
* Relaxed vs. Tensed
* Capturing energy vs. Applying energy
* Whipping/circular vs. Linear"

John C

As far as "relaxed vs tense," I have never studied a purely internal art (though I've done some Aikido which fell more into the "soft vs hard" style dichotomy, but I know that in the striking I study in the Filipino arts, Jun Fan Gung Fu, and the bit of Muay Thai, you are supposed to remain relaxed at all times except for the instant at which your strike lands. I have also been told by an amateur boxer that boxers also try to remain loose and relaxed even as they punch, except when they actually hit, in the same manner.

As far as I can tell, to be tense is to be slow to react, inhibits sensitivity and spontenaity, and is much more tiring than being relaxed. I can't see how that could be good in a self-defense situation, though it would do great as an isometric exercise, I suppose.

I wouldn't mind a bit of having "capturing energy vs. applying energy" defined. I am under the impression that some strongly
internal arts use punches, kicks, and/or other strikes. Such techniques seem to involve applying energy.

As far as "whipping/circular vs. linear," I'm not sure what that means. If hook punches and roundhouse kicks are circular, well, hard styles have 'em. Hsing I is, as understand it, actually tends to uses linear punches as its main attack. Wing Chum and Jun Fan both use some circular parries, and, as I said, and they are not generally regarded as internal arts.

"My original point on the observation of each art having aspects developed for their
purpose was simply to suggest that boxing may have aspects of biomechanics geared a certain way because of the rules of the sport, the arena, the overall goal, etc. that will intrinsically differ from a training technique from another art geared along a
different purpose."

John C

Boxers still aim to produce the most energy possible in their punches, sport or no sport. Muay Thai and in the Filipino arts (at leas the ones I've had exposure to), employ basically the same biomechanics, as do some other arts. Basically, you try to use the entire body to power the punch, as has been discussed before. Increases efficiency for maximizing power, etc,

If you describe specifically how boxers' biomenchanics may be significantly different due to the rules that they operate under, I'll see if I can talk to one of my martial arts instructors with boxing experience (I have a couple), and see what their boxing and martial arts experience leads them to believe.

"I'm not sure I agree with your conclusion that since biomechanics deal with what is
within the body they are inherently "internal". Perhaps another way to say this would be that both external and internal styles offer differing approaches to biomechanics. I don't know ..."

John C

I had a smiley after my statement. It was a joke.

John Thurston had it right when he speculated about what I meant by sensitive grapplers (no, not crying while watching romantic movies and loving kittens Image

When one grapples (at least where I study -- the Filipino empty-handed stuff I do involves lots of standup grappling and more than a bit of groundfighting too, and the Jun Fan does also, but with less groundfighting. I have done a bit of other grappling in other styles too, but not enough to speak in an informed manner on them), one has to pull when the opponent pushes, but in the right direction, and to the right degree, or push when an opponent pulls. This requires sensitivity. Also, you have to be sensitive to sudden movement, wether your opponent is balanced, and other things I'm probably forgetting now.

Much grappling training (at least where I train (where being tense or stiff is considered undesirable)), involves the ability to sense how an opponent is trying to apply energy, and making use of that by turning the tables on him. If they want to go in a particular direction, you let them, and help them along, but make use of their direction to throw them, lock them up, get them into a choke, or otherwise defeat them.

As I've said, both the Filipino arts and Jun Fan employ sensitivity drills. In both the ability to flow smoothly between strikes, traps, and locks, and between one lock and a reversal (an "opposite" lock) are emphasized here. All these things tend to be done as "targets of opportunity," based on what the opponent "gives" you, and very sensitivity based.

I've seen Brazillian Ju Jitsu types grapple too (only one lesson in this style on my part), and sensitivity to what an opponent does seems to be a pretty important element with them too, though I lack the experience to say this as a fact.

I don't mean to be a curmudgeon.

Scaramouche


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 1999 4:00 pm 
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Scaramouche:

Help me out here, was the book "Sacaramouche" written by Dumas or Rafael Sabatini?

My Grandad had a copy, but I can't find it.

I would dearly like to have had an opportunity to study Gracy Jiu Jitsu or Aikido. My friend of 3.5 decades teaches Aikido in Chelmsford Mass. and is the "real deal" but I injured my shoulder(s) in the 80's. When I went up two years ago to start that study, I found I kept reinjuring my shoulder (one or the other) on the shoulder rollouts. Judo "breakfalls" are a bit easier on me. My Loss.

I recommend Lou Periello Sensei to anyone in that area.

So, as a consequence my cross training has to have been in arts somewhat more gently practiced-such as TAI Ji which in it's Chin Na does has an upright grappling component that I may get to study in the next few years.

I sometimes suggest to people that a "hard" mostly external style is a good starting point, and I love Uechi, but I will have missed an opportunity in grappling training.


I have sometimes suggested that a softer more internal style might best serve a complement for older students.(like myself)

Thanks for the acknowledgement.

JOHN T

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 1999 8:47 pm 
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"Help me out here, was the book "Sacaramouche" written by Dumas or Rafael Sabatini?"

John Thurston

Rafael Sabatini wrote it, though I have not actually read it. "Scaramouche" was also a stock character in an early form of theater ("Comedia del Arte). He was a trickster who was always causing (and getting himself into) trouble.

I actually injured my right shoulder doing Aikido due to a bad fall (completely my fault). After two years of weight training the weakness disappeared. I am convinced that the prolonged strengthening of my shoulder caused the recovery.

I only did six months of Aikido, but I greatly respect the style. I find myself using a bit of Aki-derived circular footwork when I do takedowns in my standing grappling, and at least one of my FMA instructors alters his Filipino techniques a bit based on his previous Aikido training.

I think that it might not be the best style to take if you want to become combat effective in the fastest possible time, but it is beautiful, develops grace and balance (and other qualities too I think), and in my opinon is a great second art for those who have already learned how to strike effectively. From what I understand, most of the original students of Aikido in Japan already had solid martial arts background from other arts.

If we continue this thread (either an Aikido or the internal/external thread), perhaps we could start it over? I'm having to wait a long time for the whole string to load.

Scaramouche


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 1999 10:32 pm 
Hi John,

MY views/thoughts/feelings about Chi/Tai Chi/Uechi are not what I call the textbook variety and sometimes I am a little reluctant to say too much. However you asked for help a few days ago so let's see if I can get my butt here after class tonight and do something.

Scaramouche was interested in restarting this thread at the top. Got any good ideas for a title?

Allen

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 1999 3:26 pm 
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Thanks Allen and Scaramouche for the help and anticipated help.

JOHN T

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 30, 1999 3:34 pm 
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New title:

Gee, uhm, I can't think of one, maybe "soft systems hard systems grappling systems" or linear vs. circular.

Maybe Scaramouche has an idea.

Somewhere on one of the posts I submitted I think I mentioned that the Ba Fa form (thus far) makes Tai Chi look "linear". Also I note that Wing Chum and Tai Chi and Isshinryu share a passion for the "Arrow Punch" (Tate Tsuki).

Books on "chi na" not surprinsingly make claims on being that aspect of TC being the forerunner of "Aikido". Practically it makes no difference I suppose, but it is noteworthy.

P.S. Allen-Kenyukai Kumite and Book?

JOHN T

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