|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|
|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 'natural' manner|
|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|
|Forcing||Allowing, leading, misdirecting|
|Speed||Spontaneity and timing|
|Isolated limb use||Whole-body movement|
|Planning||Listening, sensitivity, adaptation|
|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|
|Figures things out|
Is it really internal?
Studying taijiquan (supreme ultimate fist) 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.
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.
Movement 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.
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 taijiquan.
4 ounces adjustment centre confusing external fa jing listening mind neigong sensitivity small sticky technique yielding
Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 25 March 2019