I tend to agree with Omar(I think).
"Internal" has to do with controlling attention and other mental/neurological/physiological attributes. Western science is in the early stages of monitoring these "internal" events. There is much more to Chinese philosophy than this but it's a start at bridging the traditionally "internal" and "external" aspects Cinese martial arts and making internal ideas accessible to a western paradigm.
Real Scientific Article
An accomplished buddhist monk would be an expert at the internal side of internal martial arts. But you could still probably beat him up if you spar every day and he doesn't practice any sparring.
edit: People fantasizing about "chi balls" are like archaic tribesmen who, upon coming across a television, are apt to believe that birds are somehow carrying images from remote locations (Not to insult "archaic tribesmen"). If people have difficulty understanding the idea of internal arts they should try to open their mind. Consider the possibility that other cultures have made astute observations of their mental states/feelings and documented them for centuries if not millenia. Seriously. Unfortunately there are alot, if not a majority, of chi-ball wizards out there teaching "internal" martial arts. That or they are simply teaching a form of relaxing low impact movement therepy.
I was going to keep up with this whole thread, but I got bored...
The entire "internal vs. external" BS was started (or at least significantly contributed to) by Sun Lu-tang to screw with his contemporaries. It was an inside joke then, and an ongoing joke now.
When you look at external training versus internal training, you'll find, in the long run, more similarities than differences.
In the really long run, what does it matter anyway?
Gee, I spent quite some time reading this thread.
Unfortunately Mike Patterson did not answered IIF's question directly. On his internetpage however, there is an rather unusual answer to the internal vs. external debate:
"The original meanings of Internal vs. External kung fu have been largely misconstrued over the last generation due to many "oral" variations of the many different kung fu families trying to paint a picture showcasing their own individual style. So, now adays a person hears many incorrect statements regarding these differences such as External Styles are "Hard" and Internal Styles are "Soft", but in reality the original meaning of this "difference" was entirely philosophic and geographic. The original me aning of the external styles was simply that those styles were originally started by Da Mo and the ShaoLin temples (buddhist philosophy) who purportedly came from India, and was hence from outside China (External Style). And the original meaning of "Inte rnal" was to denote those styles that were founded on the Taoist philosophy of Lao Tzu and were created inside of China (Internal Styles)." (source: http://www.hsing-i.com/tai_chi/IntvsExt.html)
I have no way to validate this.
However, imo this is a very funny and sufficient answer. At least I had a laugh.
You know, that is probably as valid an answer as any!
To offer my two cents, consider the difference between TKD and Bagua. TKD gets you out there right away flopping arms and legs around in the air, and slowly works on improving your form. In contrast, Bagua starts with learning to sit right, then stand right, and then as you develop good form the external things are developed. That's how I'd see it anyway.
technonaut, I agree, as good as any. But quit a valid source I guess.
nevertheless, I like that very unusual approach and it certainly is far away from that common chi-related internal stuff versus strengh/speed-related external stuff that is repeated on and on so often...
in other words, it made me laugh so I prefere to stick to it. It seems closer than that other.
I practice the internal arts from the perpective that, what makes them internal and not external, is what FORCE I am using in my self defense and offense techniques.
My perspective is as such:
external techniques use force that I generate when I block/kick/grapple/strike
internal techniques use force that you generate, and I deflect and redirect your force when I block/kick/grapple/strike.
Since Force = Mass X Acceleration, why not use your energy against you? The pure internal CMAs, (tcc, bgz, hic) use this way of thinking.
tai chi chuan is mostly interested in redirecting and neutralizing oncoming force in a non damaging way (yet damage can be performed when necessary). Tcc usually moves in rocking footwork, circle walking, and arcs.
ba gua zhang is also interested in piercing, joint locking, grappling and is a mix of tcc and hic. Bgz moves in any direction necessary.
hsing i chuan is mostly interested in immeditely redirecting and thrashing or piercing using the on coming opponent's force in a damaging way (yet neutralization and deflection can be performed when necessary). Hic usually moves from point A to point B in the most direct, through the opponent's center line, route.
Again, my point of view is that these 3 internal CMAs focus on redirecting and using the opponents force against them. An internal style martial artist is more interested in developing speed and sensitivity in reaction to the opponent's oncoming energy in the goal of redirecting it and using the opponent's energy against them.
Now, if I name at least 5 five so called external Martial arts that say the same thing what then?
Originally Posted by simo
That is why I disagree with the many explanations of so called IMA. Different training methodologies to get the same results.
I'll let the CMA guys discuss your broader point, but let me just say this: please don't ever use F=MA, or shitty misapplied physics in general, to make a point about martial arts.
Originally Posted by simo
Having practiced a variation of Xingyi, Taiji, and Bagua for several years, as well as having practiced a variety of other arts, my take on the debate is that either side - internal or external - is a contrived attempt at self-imposed elitism.
When you look at the ultimate goals of both internal and external arts - fluidity of technique, depth of strike penetration, maximum damage with minimum effort, etc. - there are precious little significant differences remaining to identify one or the other.
I pretty much agree except with the external falling into the same elitism. Unless, of course you are speaking generalities. Internal I agree with because most ignorant Masters I have encountered use external as a put down.
Originally Posted by Matt Stone