The internal Martial Arts vs external Martial Arts debate seems to go on and on. Ask 10 internal stylists why their arts are called internal, and you’ll get 20 answers….. There tends to be a lot of hypnotic/self delusion kind of stuff that seems to seep into the Internal Martial Arts training methods and it only seems to get more and more ridiculous as you go along. Qigong and the internal martial arts were invented to release the tensions which are build up in the external martial arts. I feel the structures, opening and closing of the body, and the alignments of the joints to create power, in order to receive and issue are very similar.
The term ‘internal’ refers originally to no such thing. In China that was not the intention behind this “internal” term. The term ‘Neijia’ (‘internal school’ or ‘internal family’) was coined by Sun Lu-t’ang in the beginning of the century and refers to the type of process and focus used in the ‘internal arts’ to achieve progress and not to any ‘internal conflicts.
Of course not everything about internal arts are negative, there are benefits to the ‘internal’ concepts such as muscular recruitment pattern re-education, soft tissue remodelling, vascular stimulants and many more. Qigong and the internal Martial aArts were invented to release the tensions in the “body and mind” which builds up in the external Martial Arts. The internal Martial arts are one area where the eventual progression of some movements is that you can shorten a movement through practice. E.g drawing back the arm to prepare for a punch can eventually be reduced so that the wind up is all in the mind, yet the effect of the wind will still be apparent. A lot of Martial Artists and normal people in general underestimate these principles and Qigong and internal martial arts are often ridiculed by martial artist and people in general.
The internal terminology though seems to be created by those who do not have the terms and understanding of what is happening in the human body and then mystify the action. Imo there is nothing inherently different about internal strength vs external strength. It is just a specific combination of ingredients in a movement chain, a very unique coordination and sequencing, sometimes happening in fractions of a second.
People who study these Internal Arts tend to be more prone to delusion because so many people do not approach it from an inquisitive nature at all. They should ask “Why do it this way?” “Why does this work?” “Can I make it work?” People of internal practices tend to go in blindly.
Things that tend to raise a red flag……
-The teacher who always “wins” in any push hands by starting off with a certain rhythm i.e four directions and then attacking out of the blue with a different technique without allowing the student the same leeway
-The teacher who can’t explain pushing hands with mechanics but only with esoteric terms
-The teacher who doesn’t understand the limited nature of pushing hands, and where it fits in the martial scheme generally
-The teacher who is obsessed with fixed step pushing hands to the exclusion of all other drills
– The teacher who thinks that only Tai Chi is any good and who is arrogant where other arts are concerned
-The teacher that trains their students to lose i.e leap like salmon at the “master’s” slightest touch… You can see these types of demos all over Youtube.
I feel that combat movement needs to be tested against other combat movements. This is the reason why Kung Fu is severely ineffective against someone who is a Professional Fighter as an example, which we see from all the “Kung Fu challenges from China.
So many Martial Arts are only tested against their own practitioners and it leads to a false sense of expertise. If Martial Arts Masters were required to be tested against other Martial Arts practitioners on a regular basis then I believe it would ween out all the nonsense and all Martial Arts would grow exponentially!! I also believe that martial movement should disconnect itself from the world of the martial period. I have a lot of respect to those that understand this reality while others… have more excuses than you can imagine! The modern fight lab has produced concepts of mobility, in general, over outdated overused concepts of rooting and stability.
True Martial people are not artists of movement. They are artists of war.