Neijiaquan
Internal martial arts
     

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Advanced martial art

Certain styles of kung fu are referred to as being 'internal'.
Internal martial arts employs insights and principles from the Ancient Chinese wisdom of Taoism for fitness and combat.
These arts are very sophisticated and intelligent; relying on subtlety, sensitivity and speed, rather than brute force and aggression.
And they can be trained for a lifetime...
 

To eradicate any erroneous ideas you may have, let us compare both the internal and external types of martial arts.
If we examine the substance and function of the two types, we will see that there is a great deal of difference between them. 

(Robert W Smith)


What
makes it advanced?

Exploring the internal martial arts is not the same as practicing a mainstream/conventional/external martial art.
There are many different considerations:

Conventional martial arts   Internal martial arts
     
Obvious   Hidden
     
Confucian, Buddhist    Taoist
     
Moral code   Principle e.g. yin/yang, change
     
Hard, brittle, bracing   Soft, fluid, loose
     
Combat is the main concern   Health and combat equally important
     
Straightforward   Significantly more detailed and sophisticated
     
Favour military-style warm-up exercise   Strength is built using unconventional means
     
Hard on the body   Gentler with the body
     
Uses existing body habits   Body must be trained to move in a manner that is unfamiliar
     
Mechanical   Organic, natural
     
Jerky   Smooth
     
Typically focuses on striking or grappling, seldom both   Striking and grappling trained together
     
Force versus force   4 ounces of pressure, stickiness, sensitivity
     
Favours the younger, stronger student   Age is less of an obstacle
     
Fighting/competition   Incapacitation is the aim
     
Aggression/emotion   Composure
     
Forcing   Allowing, leading, misdirecting
     
Speed   Spontaneity and timing
     
Isolated limb use   Whole-body movement
     
Extended   Close-quarters
     
Linear   Circular
     
Planning   Listening, sensitivity, adaptation
     
Struggling   Flowing
     
Blocking   Blending
     
Being in your head thinking about what to do next   Being in the body and sensation-oriented
     
Denying your vulnerability   Feeling your vulnerability
     
Contracted, locked musculature   Loose, fluid and relaxed musculature
     

Works the joints

  Works tendons, ligaments, fascia and muscles
     

Waits to be told the answer

  Figures things out
     

Looks outside for answers

  Figures things out
     

Is it really internal?

Studying taijiquan (supreme ultimate fist) or baguazhang does not make a student an 'internal' martial artist.
It all depends on how you train the Art.
It is possible (and common) to perform the martial art 'externally'.
Also, most taijiquan classes are 'tai chi for health' and therefore not an internal martial arts class at all.
 

The body mechanics of the internal martial arts are significantly more sophisticated than those of the external martial arts. 

(Bruce Frantzis)
 

Misconception

A common misconception is that any martial art offers the opportunity to reach an 'internal' level of practice i.e. a karate man can become internal.
This is not true.
Internal forms are quite different to external ones.
They were designed to be a vehicle for the exploration of a very unique way of moving and using the body.
M
ovement is initiated by the centre (not by the hips) and entails moving every part of the body as one fluid unit. The joints do very little work.


Different mind

The combat skills and sensibilities of the internal martial arts require a perceptual shift: blending, yielding, listening, stickiness.
There is no blocking, struggling or forcing involved.


Eight internal styles

There are only eight known styles of internal martial art:

Taijiquan (supreme ultimate fist)
Baguazhang (8 trigrams palm)
Xingyiquan (form/intention fist)
Liuhebafa (water fist)
Tongbeiquan (spreading power from the back fist)
Ziranmen (natural fist)
Bajiquan (eight extremities fist)
Yiquan (mind fist)/dachengquan (the great accomplishment)

We teach the first two martial arts: taijiquan and baguazhang.


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Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 18 May 2017