Thread: Internal/External Clarification
6/02/2003 8:12pm, #1
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- Jun 2003
Uhh, many of you don't "get it" when it comes to the definition. Even those who assume that Internal can mean any art which employs body mechanics and/or "chi". Here is Mike Patterson's take on it- keep in mind he is the number one Hsing-I FIGHTER (and teacher) in the US.
From his website www.hsing-i.com
"Internal (Neijia) vs. External (Waijia)
Before any real description of any of the Internal Arts of Hsing-I, Pa-Kua or Tai-Chi can be rendered, we must first examine in brevity what actually constitutes an "Internal" Art form verses an "External" Art form. Indeed, at an even more base level, we must address the western conceptualization that the term "kung fu" actually applies to all martial arts that are Chinese in origin. The term "kung fu" strictly translated means "a skillful ability attained through hard work" period. It does not imply any specific style or system implicitly. In fact, one could be a concert pianist and be considered to have good "kung fu" as far as the Mandarin speaking population is concerned. In Asia, all art forms are referenced by their specific name to identify them from the myriad other forms of "kung fu". For example: ShanXi Style Hsing I Chuan, Lung Hsin Style Pa Kua Chang, Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan or Liou He Ba Fah Chuan respectively of the Neijia families. With that said, let us explore briefly what an Internal style is.
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 "Internal" was to denote those styles that were founded on the Taoist philosophy of Lao Tzu and were created inside of China (Internal Styles).
Of the over four hundred different styles of Chinese Kung Fu, only three types are considered "Internal" by that definition, and they are: Hsing I Chuan (Form of the Will Boxing), Pa Kua Chang (Eight Trigrams Palm) and Tai Chi Chuan (Supreme Pole Boxing). All other kung fu styles are considered External and derived from Da Mo and the Shaolin tradition. So, as you can see from this original and correct meaning, by definition there is no such thing as a style that is both internal and external. It would be a geographic and philosophic impossibility.
It is also true, because of certain historical events, that nowadays the Internal school of thought focuses on not only self defense and external manifestations of ability, such as strength, stamina, flexibility and physical prowess, but also explores the inside of the practitioner’s development. Internal kung fu strengthens the internal organs and circulatory systems. It increases lymphatic circulation to aid the practitioner in removing toxins from the body more rapidly. It improves focus of mind and concentration of intellect. We also learn to apply the principles of Yin and Yang and the Five Elements, principles of redirection, absorption and reflection, evasion and entrapment, etc. These lessons are just as applicable strategically in a business m eeting as they are in self defense and confrontation. A person need only be taught their essence of expression in the practical sense. This is also part of Internal kung fu."
And here is a quote from him when he participated on the Neijia List:
http://neijia.anu.edu.au/1997/97-10/0874.html You all should read the entire post but I will quote here:
term "Neijia" means. If you speak that word in Asia, everyone will
automatically assume that you are referencing the Martil Arts of Hsing-I,
Pa-Kua or Tai-Chi.. They would not for a moment begin to think that you
were talking ONLY about body mechanics, etc. And they would expect you to
be able to show demonstrable fighting abilities.
Neijia can only have two possible meanings from the Mandarin, either
"Internal House" or "Internal Family", both of which, at least in Asia,
denote a specific branch of the MARTIAL ARTS (also sometimes referred to as
Wu Tang Pai) when these arts are categorized and not talked about by their
6/08/2003 4:35pm, #2
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- Mar 2003
Would Mike Patterson like to clarify his use of sources? I've never read this interpretation anywhere else. My experience with both "internal" and "external" CMA suggests that they ultimately end up in the same place. Also, a rigid distinction between "foreign Buddhism" and "native Daoism" is particularly inappropriate given Chan/Zen's roots in both. I doubt enlightented practitioners of any system would fail to recognize the commonalities in theory as well as application for the arts involved.
As to the idea of "Wudang" styles, modern use of this term is fallacious. While Wudang does have its own martial arts, including one called "Taijiquan", there is no clear way to trace the modern, well-known triad of neijia arts to it. Most reputable historians see Taiji developing only in the nineteenth century, and Chen Taiji as having clear Shaolin roots.
Edited by - Xuanlong Xian on June 08 2003 16:39:12
6/08/2003 6:09pm, #3Here is Mike Patterson's take on it- keep in mind he is the number one Hsing-I FIGHTER (and teacher) in the US.
And his commentary leaves out the connection those terms have to Sun Lu Tang (who was the main source of the confusion in the first place - deliberately, mind you, as a practical joke of sorts on the MAists of his time who were missing the point entirely). Mr. Patterson's explanation echoes the common understanding, and is pretty representative of the problem.
Still wondering when the vote was held, though... At least you didn't say James McNeil was #1...
6/09/2003 1:49pm, #4
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- Oct 2002
As with most people who quote history and have the only answer to a question, they have either created the answer to further promote their style or they have taken someone elses written or oral statement and used that because it promotes their style.
IMO, both answers I have read above are not the accurate answer, but that is just my opinion.
Congratulations to the Hsing-I community for having Patterson represent you as your best fighter and best teacher. Check out some of his videos some time. ;-)
6/09/2003 2:19pm, #5
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- Oct 2002
The internal versus external debate has been raging on different sites for a long time. Most people have an opinion and try to defend it with books or quotes or historical "fact". When we make these arguments, we give Phrost and other TMA doubters more evidence that TMA is full of practitioners who have no real world ability.
Also, when we make a blanket statement like Mike Patterson is the best Hsing-I has to offer, it lets the MMA community continue to discount all TMA practitioners. Have you seen every Hsing-I black belt perform?
I have been part of the TCMA community for a little under a decade now and I agree with why Phrost thinks it is worthless. He hasn't seen anything to show him otherwise.
I hope my two posts hasn't caused me to lose my newbie status. I try to shut up and just read most of the time. I should have done the same here, but my fingers got the better of my good sense.
6/09/2003 2:29pm, #6
Edited by - cyrijl on June 18 2003 14:22:46There is no cheating, there is only jiu-jitsu.
6/09/2003 3:03pm, #7
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- Feb 2003
Mike Patterson is very very good a delivering interesting seminars but i did notice some small things.
I sat in one of his seminars as an outside observer and i noticed that he never demonstrated any of his techniques on the general audience, he tended to use his top student (Paul Wiene??). Whilst undoubtly he does know his stuff, I wasn't convinced of him being able to apply that knowledge in a real fight.
As for him being number 1 Hsing Yi fighter in US, is this an opinion or fact?
6/09/2003 4:40pm, #8
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- Nov 2002
Doesn't he actually train good full-contact fighters? I've heard this a number of times...
He carries a gun.
THE Arnold Schwarzenegger.
A man with a plan.You want some birth control? You can smoke a cigarette.
6/10/2003 3:18pm, #9
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- Jun 2003
long time lurker, first time poster here. i registered just so i could reply, how swell of me to take time out of my day for ya, when bullshido.com lags so badly and BJJ apparently rules over all so we should just give up now and be assimilated ;) ...
first of all, MAD FUKR, its a great assumption to make when you say that anyone is number one at anything, especially in the MA community.
i bet we dont know each other, but you take a great leap of faith on this board in assuming that we actully respect your depth of knowledge and understanding of every single hsing-i practitioner and teacher in the US ;) but we love you anyways. keep it real, MAD *wink*
i believe i know of the 2 man drills that CYRIJL was referring to, and they are just that. they are 2 man drills that dont necessarily serve the purpose of teaching improvisation in a combative perspective. lots of MA styles have them. they dont appear sloppy to me, anyways. but everyone looks at things differently. the telegraphing you mentioned were probably just taken from the clips that demonstrate the application of the part of the form. the purpose was not to show how to defend against a telegraphed punch to the face, the purpose was to show what the form meant.
besides all that, an application of a piece of a martial art (apart from 1 on 1 drills) in regards to fighting is merely a representation of how the piece is interpreted. thats what helps to make the movement ART, or an ARTFORM.
****, even if anyone at their most highly trained level would never be able to get any of those moves off in a real fight... it doesnt matter. its still a demonstration of the potential of the movement, making it artful. respectfully i say to you, thats a point most people miss. if you really really want to concentrate on fighting, for fighting sake, forgetting about the ART of it all, then you must disregard all interpretations of form or "kata", because they are art, representing potential!
example: i am a practicing musician and i used to play all these fast-ass scales just so i could play fast and meet chicks. well, when it came time to play in a BAND with other people, playing all the fast scales just did not work, because i failed to concentrate on the artfulness of the music i was trying to create. i failed at becoming the artist i wanted to be. i was great at playing scales real fast, but i couldnt make MUSIC. hmmm, maybe that helps clear my example up for you. probably not, though :)
if you go to check out the video segments on his site, you may be disappointed if you are looking for fighting-specific clips. maybe he should put some up of his students winning by knock-out in the tournaments he enters them in. :) all just to impress bullshido.com computer warriors, right?
as far as int vs ext? i am not a historian so i cant really weigh in on this, but i dont think mike patterson is trying to cash in on what you think is his own interpretation of what internal is. and BSH i am sorry but i think you went too far in your comment. i wish i knew more about the subject, but i can only address what i DO know. i certainly dont see him trying to take any advantage because of the fact that you think he has redefined internal styles vs external styles, i am sorry but i just dont see that anywhere on his site.
i didnt mean for this post to come out too heavy or anything. cuz we all know that bullshido.com trolls think that BJJ rules over all, and the reality that stares me full on in the face is that CMA has a LOT to make up for because of the behavior of the past several generations....
i certainly did not want to add to the bickering and pettiness that we see all too often, and is pretty much the reason why i have not looked back at kungfuonline.com after getting caught up in a stupid troll about... you guessed it... CMA!!
i hope that doesnt happen here, so i have tried to post positively where others usually dont. but that doesnt mean i am a girly-man! :)
6/11/2003 5:24pm, #10
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- Oct 2002
Fair enough comments. I am right in line with your paragraph about CMAs in the last few generation, but I don't think I went too far.
I realized my tone was a bit snide in the first post, so I tried to tone it down and explain better in the follow-up. My opinion is that people often point to history, books, and other people's quotes to defend their position, not to find the real answer.
I don't think Mike Patterson is trying to cash in, I just think he has accepted the definition of internal that best promotes his system. I reject his definition because I train an internal system that doesn't qualify as such under his definition.
I think he has every right to claim that my art is not internal as I have the right to claim that it is. And the internal versus external debate will go on and on. Hopefully without the trolls this time.