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Michael Varin
01-18-2013, 09:33 PM
I'm sure this is so blatantly obvious that it doesn't even warrant discussion, but, please, humor me.

What is the difference between internal and external? Where do you draw the line?

Where do these terms come from? What specifically do they refer to? Why do you feel it is an appropriate distinction to make?

How do you know when you feel internal? How do you know when you feel external?

hughrbeyer
01-18-2013, 10:24 PM
Are you sure you're in the right forum? :rolleyes:

Internal is driven from center. External from whatever body part is moving.

The origin of the terms is pretty much self-evident.

If you feel a directional force on the point of contact, it's probably external. You can test this by pulling away suddenly. If your partner follows you, leaving themselves open, it's definitely external.

If there's no force you can identify on the point of contact and you're falling anyway, and you didn't throw yourself off balance with a dopy attack, it's internal.

Lee Salzman
01-19-2013, 06:02 AM
Internal martial training is that which focuses on the quality of the mental constructs you are using to, still, in the end, produce physical effects. To the extent that the actual physical appearance of what comes out has a wide flexibility in terms of what is considered "okay", so long as the mind behind it is improving in a specific quality being ingrained - like the pervasiveness of awareness or of engagement, or the intensity of that engagement, or even other things like how it is shaped/emphasized, how continuous it is in time, or how agile it is, etc. I am not sure I would classify moving from the center as what makes training internal, but something that is highly correlated with it and what often-times internal training is used to effect.

External martial training is that focuses manipulating the body externally, but which does not have as its goal the specific improvement of mental organization - something like, foot goes here, move hand this way, move at this time, "do it like this" to produce physical effects. Or another way of looking at it, techniques are described as the external body moving or looking a certain way. It does not seem that one couldn't improve in internal qualities by doing external training, just that, like trying to magically stumble upon calculus by doing a lot of algebra, results are more likely to be limited, if not non-existent, and would basically amount to reinventing internal training on one's own.

ChrisHein
01-21-2013, 02:19 AM
Internal is driven from center. External from whatever body part is moving.

So modern athletics are not external? Are modern athletics internal, or are they another category?


The origin of the terms is pretty much self-evident.


What is that?


If you feel a directional force on the point of contact, it's probably external. You can test this by pulling away suddenly. If your partner follows you, leaving themselves open, it's definitely external.


So if an "internal" person pushes you you can't tell where the force is coming from? Is over committing to a push (when you move your pusher moves) something internal people never do, for example, if they need to move something, and it is at the edge of their pushing power, would they never use their body weight directly on the object? Why or why not?


If there's no force you can identify on the point of contact and you're falling anyway, and you didn't throw yourself off balance with a dopy attack, it's internal.

So if an internal person contacts you, you cannot tell that the force is coming from the point of contact? If you throw yourself off balance, but it wasn't a "dopy attack" could that be internal? Or does internal only use the IP persons 'push'?

Lee Salzman
01-21-2013, 06:30 AM
So modern athletics are not external? Are modern athletics internal, or are they another category?


Within the framework of description that Hugh implies, they are mostly external, with some incidental incorporation of things bordering on internal.


What is that?


With respect to origin of the terms, well, they have nothing to do with how we use them here. They started as just a sort of geographical way of identifying broad lineages of Chinese martial art by, IIRC, Sun Lutang, sort of a Chinese martial arts gerrymandering of his own making. However, those within the "internal" category had enough common features that really did set them apart such as dantien, (spiral) jin, etc. that "internal" has rather come to be identified with this, and not the original meaning of geographic prejudice. Those arts that fell within the original "external" category were harder/more linear, but yet have their own flavor of things that border on and fall within today's interpretation of "internal" to some degree, but depending on who you ask, there is argument either way.


So if an "internal" person pushes you you can't tell where the force is coming from? Is over committing to a push (when you move your pusher moves) something internal people never do, for example, if they need to move something, and it is at the edge of their pushing power, would they never use their body weight directly on the object? Why or why not?


In the framework of moving from the center as it pertains to aikio, force is coming from everywhere and all directions, depending on where you contact that body. It is not that one never shifts weight or doesn't push into anything, but that one is always balancing those directions of force so as not to become one-sided/one-directional in in the application of force ("clumsy" strength) or directly resist/clash with the contact ("brute" force). Force can be transmitted AT a contact point, but it does not have to go straight in/out of it - it is way more multidimensional than that. What one is organized mentally and what that feels like on physical contact are also two wildly different things, as it affects the above, and also whether that thing feeling you is inanimate or sentient - to quote a greater man than I, "There is a strength for people, and a strength for things."


So if an internal person contacts you, you cannot tell that the force is coming from the point of contact? If you throw yourself off balance, but it wasn't a "dopy attack" could that be internal? Or does internal only use the IP persons 'push'?


There is internal power and there is aiki. At the level of internal power, you could say it is like being attacked by a mobile tree in its entirety, and it is hard to say which part of the tree was not working to hit you, because, well, it was one just one giant tree that hit you. As opposed to being hit by an isolated wood chip out of a pile of disconnected wood chips. And if it is aiki, well, imagine that tree was now rooted at the center of its trunk, rather than the ground, and it pivotally smushed you from many directions around except where you put force in or where you thought the force would come out - you felt no resistance other than its intrinsic mass but could not help but get attacked by it.

As for being dopey or getting thrown off balance, well, just because one tries, doesn't mean one succeeds at a thing. If a tree falls in a forest, did it succeed at remaining standing? :D But balance does not have to mean not moving or not being moved, one needs to move to learn how to move in-balance, as that is half the point yes? But there is moving in balance, and then there is throwing one's self out of balance - one doesn't need to be in contact with the ground to be balanced.

Kevin Leavitt
01-21-2013, 07:33 AM
I never really got the distinction. For example, I was always told Karate was external and Aikido was internal. However, in 20 years of training no one has been able to definitively show me examples of internal and external. Of course, I understand that there are better ways to move than others. That is, I can try and rip my wrist out of someone's grip and I might be successful for any number of reasons based on strength, timing, etc. Then again, maybe not. I can use what is referred to as "internal" where I use various thing that cause me to not trigger proprioceptions, use a more efficient part of my body for strength (center) etc.

However, is it internal or external? for me it is simply using different structures, mechanics, physics etc. sure for simplicity we call it internal so we all know what we are talking about right? lol!

I think it would be best to call it what it is training and then focus on the physical structures of what we are trying to isolate, train, and use. If it is an exercise designed to help you use your fascia, psoas, etc..then that is what it is...an exercise to do that. Is it internal or external??? not sure if you can clearly and with any degree of accuracy say that.

I think we can say that some people have trained better and we can even demonstrate and show how they are using various structures and mechanics that allow for greater power. however, for me to arbitrarily throw it into a category of "I" or "E" is oversimplistic and I fail to see where it has benefited anyone.

hughrbeyer
01-21-2013, 10:45 AM
As always, we use words to identify concepts. If one doesn't have the concepts, the words are meaningless. That's why jargon is so frustrating--not because the words are confusing but because one isn't familiar with the concepts they stand for.

In my line of work, one of the things we do is analyze the words people use in order to understand the concepts that matter to them in their work domain. I'd suggest that approach is likely to be more successful than trying to redefine the words without a deep understanding of why they're used the way they are.

In this case, "internals" is shorthand for a body of skills that hang together coherently and are usefully trained together. Splitting the concepts up will be less powerful. Substituting your own terms ("psoas power") is likely to be less meaningful than the terms used by experts in the domain ("elbow power").

Understanding that there's all kinds of good athletic movement that isn't IS. That's not a criticism; it's just saying a frog is not a duck.

Bernd Lehnen
01-21-2013, 11:30 AM
I never really got the distinction. For example, I was always told Karate was external and Aikido was internal. However, in 20 years of training no one has been able to definitively show me examples of internal and external. Of course, I understand that there are better ways to move than others. That is, I can try and rip my wrist out of someone's grip and I might be successful for any number of reasons based on strength, timing, etc. Then again, maybe not. I can use what is referred to as "internal" where I use various thing that cause me to not trigger proprioceptions, use a more efficient part of my body for strength (center) etc.

However, is it internal or external? for me it is simply using different structures, mechanics, physics etc. sure for simplicity we call it internal so we all know what we are talking about right? lol!

I think it would be best to call it what it is training and then focus on the physical structures of what we are trying to isolate, train, and use. If it is an exercise designed to help you use your fascia, psoas, etc..then that is what it is...an exercise to do that. Is it internal or external??? not sure if you can clearly and with any degree of accuracy say that.

I think we can say that some people have trained better and we can even demonstrate and show how they are using various structures and mechanics that allow for greater power. however, for me to arbitrarily throw it into a category of "I" or "E" is oversimplistic and I fail to see where it has benefited anyone.

What Kevin said.

But every time I would like to know, if I was training in the direction of being able to replicate certain feats attributed to aiki, the list of tests Dan Harden proposed and what he and Cady Goldfield have to say in this respect come to mind.

ChrisHein
01-21-2013, 06:11 PM
I think often when people speak of internal vs external they are talking about good vs bad to them. Everything they think is bad (clumsy energy, athletes, powerful muscles) gets called "external", and everything that is good (smart energy, clever old people, not having to work out) gets called "internal".

I know because I used to feel much the same way, I would never say "external" is bad, I would simply say something like "it's just a different way of moving, some people like it". I would be thinking in my head, "yeah, only morons would like external martial arts, they are stupid", but I wouldn't admit that. But the more I learned about "internal martial arts" and the more I learned about athletics, the more I realized they were going for the same thing.

Using your body correctly is neither "internal" or "external" it is simply using your body correctly. So I don't understand why when we are talking about internal vs external we always talk about things that are negative (clumsy strength, not moving from your center etc) as being external, and all good things (appropriate strength, moving form your center etc) as being internal.

If there is a difference between external and internal why confuse those things with good or bad? Athletes can push more weight, jump higher, move faster, work longer then non athletes, yet athletics are "external" correct? Athletes move from their center, and apply exacting amounts of appropriate force. So lumping them into "external" and making external sound clumsy or stupid makes the discussion confusing.

We should be talking about the real differences and not adding a slant, either positive or negative to either side.

HL1978
01-21-2013, 07:53 PM
http://mikesigman.blogspot.com/2012/10/silk-reeling-aka-six-harmonies-movement.html

At the very least, relying on weight/gravity and air/pressure.

I'd say give that a read and then move on from there.

ChrisHein
01-21-2013, 08:33 PM
http://mikesigman.blogspot.com/2012/10/silk-reeling-aka-six-harmonies-movement.html

At the very least, relying on weight/gravity and air/pressure.

I'd say give that a read and then move on from there.

A lot of the stuff Mike Sigman writes is very good in my opinion. I think there are some good things in this blog, but there is a lot going on.

Mike use's the word "normal" to describe what I believe people here might be calling "external". It's another tricky word. Normal to a trained person is not "normal" to an untrained person. All the time I see my students doing weird things that I would normally never do. When I question them, if they've been around for awhile they realize that they are doing something weird, and fix it. If they are newer, I have to spend some time explaining to them why what they are doing is "unnatural" or not-"normal". I use the word normal or natural to mean correct movement, and here Mike is using the word to mean incorrect movment, both are correct usage from our own points of view. That makes this word, "normal" a bad word to use for our purposes.

I remember sitting in Tim Catmell's school one day, and there was this little 4 year old kid running around. Tim was looking at the kid with awe. I asked him what he was looking at, he told me that the little kid had "perfect posture" and it was impressive. I ask if he thought this kid was special, he said no, all little kids have perfect posture, it's not until later that they get bad posture. I asked why, he said he didn't know, maybe sitting at a desk in school or something.

I think what was being outlined by Tim was that we originally learn to move our bodies with great efficiency (this is something Mike talks about in his blog as well), but we learn bad habits as time goes on. Another way to say this might be, when we are young it is normal to move correctly, as we age we learn bad habits which makes our movement worse. Then this becomes normal to us. If we train in proper body methods we can again return to a more correct use of body, and this will again become normal to us.

Hashing out what we mean by "internal" "external", "normal" or "natural" is an important thing to do if we are going to have this conversation. I would suspect most people don't want to do that, so we'll probably just keep chasing our tails.

hughrbeyer
01-21-2013, 10:28 PM
Chris, I read your posts and it looks to me like you're arguing that there's no difference between a frog and a duck. I'm sitting here staring at the duck and you're saying, "No, no, that's a frog. A fuzzy frog."

I've done sports. I've done weightlifting. I've done Aikido in a few different traditions. I've done IS, at least the early steps of it. The duck is a duck. Get over it.

Look back at my description of the encounter with Imaizumi Sensei. The whole point is that without organizing and moving the body differently, what he's doing can't be duplicated. Ditto a half-dozen other people I know.

May I suggest the worst possible use of a forum on internal training is to debate whether it exists? We should be past that.

Kevin Leavitt
01-21-2013, 11:15 PM
I tend to agree with Chris on his point. The problem for me is that as terms used in martial arts external and internal are simply not helpful at all IMO. I avoid them when possible. I think that Mike Sigman's article for me does a good job of outlining how complex the discussion can get over describing the physicality of what is going on.

So, if there is a difference, I think Chris and I are arguing that the dicussion is alot more complex than simply using two words. and I agree with his assessment that on the paradigm that it is most often discussed by people who really don't understand the complexity of different types of movement it is done so in the context of "good" "bad" movement vice different physcialities

In the end if the goal is to move something, then the goal is to move something. It really doesn't matter how it is done as long as the goal is accomplished. If we use so-called internal ways or external ways...does it really matter...no not really as long as you can do it.

Now if we can't do something that matters like lifing a heavy weight or triggering a proprioception that matters...then it may indeed matter how and what we use. of course, that implies failure of some sort and now we have a baseline in which we can discuss efficiencies.

Outside of that, I think it is a moot point and when we use words like internal and external, we typically fail to establish a baseline of measure and people go around doing just what Chris is saying..."oh, that is a bad way to move 20 lbs of weight, you should be doing it internally".

I'm an advocate of "internal training" methods and I am a guy that ask "how do you do that?" and I am curious about using different ways of doing things that are seemingly better. Where I have always had issues with it is based on realitive value in a martial application where there is so much going on.

I do work hard to over come my slowing body and aging process which I see IS/IP stuff gives hope. However, again, internal/external....WTF does it mean in any real sense that provides us meaningful constructs?

tanthalas
01-22-2013, 12:49 AM
In the end if the goal is to move something, then the goal is to move something. It really doesn't matter how it is done as long as the goal is accomplished. If we use so-called internal ways or external ways...does it really matter...no not really as long as you can do it.

The assumption that the goal is (only) to move something is incorrect. In many cases, the "how" is just as important of a goal as the "what" (in some cases, the "how" is all that actually matters).

To use an extreme example: I could end hunger and overpopulation by killing off 90% of the world's people.

To use a better example: I could move a 200lb person by going to the gym every day and building muscle until I can lift a 200lb person.

Michael Varin
01-22-2013, 03:38 AM
The assumption that the goal is (only) to move something is incorrect. In many cases, the "how" is just as important of a goal as the "what" (in some cases, the "how" is all that actually matters).

To use an extreme example: I could end hunger and overpopulation by killing off 90% of the world's people.

To use a better example: I could move a 200lb person by going to the gym every day and building muscle until I can lift a 200lb person.

OK, Calvin.

Or you could train "IP/IT/IS" everyday, building "mental constructs"? until you can move a 200lb person.

Kevin has brought up many good points.

Please explain, exactly why is the how of "IP/IT/IS" all that actually matters within our context? What distinctions are you making?

Michael Varin
01-22-2013, 03:53 AM
A question (and I'm not taking sides, here):

Is it possible that people who are "natural athletes" just "get it"? That somehow prior to and regardless of the "training" they have an entirely different experience of moving their body?

I am not saying that these things cannot be refined with specific training, but why are these people better at what they do than the rest of us? Is it just genetics?

I'm considered by most to be a very intelligent person. My wife, not so much (thank God she hates AikiWeb :eek:). For the life of me, I cannot speak a foreign language. My wife picks them up like nothing.

Lee Salzman
01-22-2013, 06:10 AM
A question (and I'm not taking sides, here):

Is it possible that people who are "natural athletes" just "get it"? That somehow prior to and regardless of the "training" they have an entirely different experience of moving their body?

I am not saying that these things cannot be refined with specific training, but why are these people better at what they do than the rest of us? Is it just genetics?

I'm considered by most to be a very intelligent person. My wife, not so much (thank God she hates AikiWeb :eek:). For the life of me, I cannot speak a foreign language. My wife picks them up like nothing.

Just get it, eh? Some of it, maybe, but at the highest levels in western athletics, even there, you need to consciously identify what you are doing and try to quantitative improve at it or else you just are going to plateau on "natural" ability, which isn't really all that natural and more a result of incidental training history. It takes a good coach to turn a gifted street athlete into a professional. Now for certain hard styles of CMA, there are at least cognates in western athletics for qualities like relaxation, explosiveness, reactiveness, and agility, that you could easily spot if you say, looked at an NFL training camp. But even for those guys, they do a lot more specific training for all of those qualities than the average aikidoka will ever think of doing, and it's impressive, but... well... it's not what is meant by internal as it applies to aikido, at least not in the majority, and isn't going to reproduce the kind of power we are really seeking.

Stop looking too deeply into the term nomenclature "internal", and rather look to what actual skills are meant to be enumerated by it, and, well, it becomes empirically discernible that those skills are A) unnatural, and B) not very common in western athletics that I have seen and C) no, little kids or "natural athletes" don't "just have it". It's way more nurture than nature - sure aptitude always plays a part - but you can't get this by the million monkeys reproducing Shakespeare method. What is it not? It is not hard structure nor linear strength nor is it simple balancing skills which as expressed in western athletics are really more closely associated with agility drills nor is it the ability to stand up straight with "good" posture. In practice, it seems that training those things in to a habitual level is even a setback, because of the one-directional/fixated nature of the power expressed there which is the polar opposite of what you need to be training into your mind/body.

To radiate soft power in all directions from all parts of the body drawn from the dantien, while moving or not - and that's just internal power, not aiki... Add on the degrees of freedom that start turning it into aiki, and, well, most of us just need to focus on getting that first internal power step to the right quantity before mucking around with high-falutin' aiki stuff. :D

I thought after going through some relatively intensive CMA training I had a good grounding in it, and I too thought it could be reduced to be more alike the harder/linear structure prominent in athletics - and... It took about 5 seconds of contact with someone with real skills to disavow me of that notion, that what I thought I knew was roughly the toenail of the proverbial elephant, not wrong per se, but about 0.1% of the total picture. Needed a larger drawing board before I could even go back to it. Nope, this is a much larger and more frightening beast than I had thought then.

Again, it's not that some of these concepts weren't present to some small degree in prior CMA training I had gone through - just that I did not really conceive of that extent that I needed to develop them and the tools I needed to go back and reevaluate to do that with. I had massively underestimated the values of certain things (or at least inherited the biases of my teachers),and massively overestimated the values of other things.

But if you're just stuck too much on the terms and their origins, well, you may be missing out on real skills that you could be developing. Hell, maybe you really do even know what to look for at least to qualitatively identify the internal skill set, such as it is named, but perhaps have not really run into anyone yet who can show you the right quantities? ;)

phitruong
01-22-2013, 07:36 AM
So, if there is a difference, I think Chris and I are arguing that the dicussion is alot more complex than simply using two words. and I agree with his assessment that on the paradigm that it is most often discussed by people who really don't understand the complexity of different types of movement it is done so in the context of "good" "bad" movement vice different physcialities


other folks might assign good/bad to the whole internal/external. i don't. the term i would use is "different". for example, you can resist a push to your arm with just your arm is different from resist using your entire body in a very stiff way (but the whole body never the less) or resist using the whole body in a relax way or not resist at all by step out of the way and the push goes by and so on and so forth. they are all different. many of the parameters that all the age old warriors have to consider. as we aged, we will be older, weaker, slower. and since there will always be folks who are younger, faster, and stronger, what are we planning to do, roll over and die? don't think so. we, of the silver hair (in more places than one :) ) folks, would like to even the playing field a bit by using treachery. we came up with an approach that the young, fast and strong wouldn't think of training. why would they? since they are younger, faster, and stronger, why would they spend tedious time working on some of these strange exercises that don't seem to amount to much, the kind that are for old people. why would they do such thing? so you see, the IP/IS training is really an old age treachery approach to balance out youth and strength. i ran into such act of treachery a few years back when i was training at Saotome's backyard dojo. for folks who have been there, it's small and had that balcony wrapped around. Saotome sensei bounced my push back at me and sent me staggering back almost to the balcony. i was much younger, stronger and faster than him. so he tricked me and made me look weak. such act cannot be go unchallenged. to that end, i had to learn such thing from IP/IS so that when i reached his age, i could, one day, pull the same trick to some other young buggers! :)

it's just different. it's just a tool in the box.

chillzATL
01-22-2013, 08:50 AM
A question (and I'm not taking sides, here):

Is it possible that people who are "natural athletes" just "get it"? That somehow prior to and regardless of the "training" they have an entirely different experience of moving their body?

I am not saying that these things cannot be refined with specific training, but why are these people better at what they do than the rest of us? Is it just genetics?

I'm considered by most to be a very intelligent person. My wife, not so much (thank God she hates AikiWeb :eek:). For the life of me, I cannot speak a foreign language. My wife picks them up like nothing.

You can find examples of the various conditioning aspects that goes into IP in all sorts of places, but having some of that conditioning doesn't, IMO, make it IP and it also doesn't touch on using that conditioning in a specific, intelligent way to both manage forces acting on you or output forces against someone else. It also doesn't get anywhere near addressing the role intent plays in both using that relaxed structure and/or managing/moving forces through the body.

HL1978
01-22-2013, 08:57 AM
The only way I would assign a value judgement of "normal" or "external" being bad, is if your goal is internal movement. That is only because that type of movement is counterproductive to internal training goals (unbalancing effects, empty jacket, power with no windup etc), not that you can't generate tremendous amounts of power. Thus I am in agreement with Phi that different, or perhaps, counter-productive is probably a better term than bad.

So what is interesting, is that yes you have to relax to connect the body, but while relaxing allows you to become aware of various sensations, more than that is required. For example with sword work, most people know you aren't supposed to lift the shoulders when cutting (though many involved in the Japanese sword arts even at the lower kodansha level still do), though connecting the arm requires more than just relaxing the shoulders and not lifting them up. Once you realize how to connect them, you feel an actual connection on out to the bottom two fingers (and bottom two fingers only) from the body, through the shoulder, through the inside of the arms, on out to the fingers, and thus the admonition to only use the bottom two fingers when gripping a sword actually makes sense. Now if someone from within the sword arts had actually shown me that, that would have made things a lot easier over the past 16 years.

Cady Goldfield
01-22-2013, 11:00 AM
"External" and "internal" are crappy terms, so non-descript and terribly inaccurate, but people grope and flounder for something better suited and come up short.

IME, the difference lies in conventional ("normal") vs. unconventional use of the body and mental intent. The latter involves a number of unusual approaches to:

1. hold the body frame and structure in such a way that, instantaneously and at will, one can direct force through it in a way that routes it to the ground (the body as a "lighting rod") and back up again to tandan (dantian) for exploitation and then to a chosen exit point, rather than letting it break one's alignment and balance (you could say that it protects the "One Point") or to let damaging force be delivered to body tissues. This can be applied against pushes and pulls, punches and kicks, etc.

2. manipulate that force in ways that produce unusual power and stability, without having to rely on: a) using the torso and/or hip muscles to turn the upper body and torque the hip to create power (as in a baseball bat swing, or typical karate punch). b) moving the entire body with forward and/or downward momentum, and/or centripedal-force momentum, to create power ( as in a baseball pitch , typical karate punch, or aikido "tenkan"). c) sequential chains of action that build up delivery of power (as in a typical karate punch, golf swing or baseball pitch sequence).

3. use a continuous, non-sequential process of spiraling force generated by a combination of ground contact, manipulation of the connective tissues of the hip joints, inner arch of the legs/thighs and tandan-meimon dynamic, coordinated to exploit the dynamic tension of those opposing forces.

In other words, an "internal" process is non-linear/non-sequential, constant cycle of manipulations; does not rely on
external centripedal, forward and/or downward-drop momentum movements and doesn't involve the use of the waist-torso-upper body musculature to generate "strength" and power. It employs unconventional groups of muscle and connective tissues not typically associated with body movement or power generation, and refined use of these is not outwardly visible, or is barely so. And, mental intent is used to generate and hold all of these processes together.

The sum result is the ability to use the whole, unified body to instantaneously generate and transmit power, rather than pieces of it in sequential steps to build force and power and pass it along to the exit point until it reaches the exit point.

That's only a partial aspect of "internal," but a critical part. There are many nuances as to how it can be used that go well beyond striking force and structural stability

Martially, "internal" has some advantages over an "external" approach:
1. It allows a person to maintain an extremely stable structure that, at will, becomes hugely difficult to move or offbalance, or to take-down or throw.
2. It allows a person to strike and punch continuously without having to re-chamber the hip and create a gap that an opponent can exploit. His strikes and kicks will be extremely heavy and concussively damaging while using minimal outward movement and effort.
3. It allows a person to be extremely "sticky" and "heavy," spiralingly tight and smothering in grappling
4. It allows a person to receive/absorb and re-route the force from a "non-internal" opponent's kicks and strikes and neutralize their power... and to exploit the opponent's force to augment one's own.
5. It allows a person to move and step without compromising stability and "groundedness." This reduces vulnerability to being off-balanced by an opponent, and also allows a person to use the entire body in motion, backed up by the ground, to apply power in ate-waza.
How is this relevant to aikido? Where do I begin? At the most basic level, it makes uke have to react to you , rather than you having to react to uke. His world literally revolves around your stable center of the universe. And this is in a very different way than most contemporary aikidoka currently understand that concept. It brings a whole new level of meaning to “effortlessness,” and “motion in stillness, stillness in motion.”
Even if one never uses strikes, kicks or other forms of aggressive action, an aikidoka can so substantially increase personal physical stability and reduce windows of vulnerability to being off-balanced and having his sphere of defense penetrated. This transfers naturally to calmness of mind and presence, and, practiced long enough, can lead to transcendence where you no longer have to think about what you are doing, but simply experience being in the moment. Perhaps that is what gave O-Sensei the power to contemplate the Floating Bridge, joining together the powers of heaven and earth, and being an avatar of the kami.
Just scratching the surface here.

As an aside, concerning little kids and posture --- I think that a lot that we ascribe to “natural” and “unspoiled” movement in small children has more to do with their lesser body mass and, particularly, the big difference in their body proportions to that of a typical adult. The kinds of body machinations we’re discussion in “internal” movement really has to be learned, and does not come intuitively in a child’s body.

Demetrio Cereijo
01-22-2013, 11:41 AM
Martially, "internal" has some advantages over an "external" approach:
1. It allows a person to maintain an extremely stable structure that, at will, becomes hugely difficult to move or offbalance, or to take-down or throw.
2. It allows a person to strike and punch continuously without having to re-chamber the hip and create a gap that an opponent can exploit. His strikes and kicks will be extremely heavy and concussively damaging while using minimal outward movement and effort.
3. It allows a person to be extremely "sticky" and "heavy," spiralingly tight and smothering in grappling
4. It allows a person to receive/absorb and re-route the force from a "non-internal" opponent's kicks and strikes and neutralize their power... and to exploit the opponent's force to augment one's own.
5. It allows a person to move and step without compromising stability and "groundedness." This reduces vulnerability to being off-balanced by an opponent, and also allows a person to use the entire body in motion, backed up by the ground, to apply power in ate-waza.


Sounds good.

Asking* for someone to provide a video of a competent internalist doing these amazing things to a competent externalist in an alive environment will as futile as always has been, isn't it?

*Yes, it is a rhetorical question.

tanthalas
01-22-2013, 01:57 PM
Please explain, exactly why is the how of "IP/IT/IS" all that actually matters within our context? What distinctions are you making?

FWIW, I'm not making any claims about whether the "how" is all that matters re:IP/IS. I don't know nearly enough to make any kind of assertion like that. :)

I'm merely pointing out that "if I can do X and you can do X, then nothing else matters" is an argument that falls pretty flat under scrutiny. More importantly, that statement highlights a common mistake and misinterpretation of cause vs. effect in some instances.

We see it all the time in Aikido when teaching beginners -- a common phrase uttered in some classes is "the arm drops because uke is holding onto it while he's falling". And yet, invariably, some will look at the demonstration and think, "The teacher must be using their arm to push the uke into the ground!"

Back to topic - there may in fact be many ways to do X, but two people who accomplish X may not have done it using the same way. For some people, maybe they got there by repeatedly practicing "how to do X" (which in itself is necessarily doing something else, right?). For others, doing X may simply be a side effect of having pursued Y. I may go to the gym with the goal of losing weight, but perhaps one side effect that results from that is that I become able to run a 7-minute mile.

ChrisHein
01-22-2013, 03:12 PM
How are two things different is a core question we have to ask. If two things are not different then why make a distinction? But before we can ask that question we have to examine something that will show us a difference. So the how is not important until we've established a "what". We have to establish what it is we are asking someone to do, so that we can distinguish a difference.

Two guys lift 200lbs. One fellow claims he has "IP" the other guy doesn't claim to have "IP". We can then examine the way they lift and see if there is a difference.

So it is important to compare some kind of work being done, that way we can know if there even is a difference at all. So what Kevin suggested:

In the end if the goal is to move something, then the goal is to move something.


Is where we have to start, even if that's not what we are interested in ultimately, because it's only through this kind of "work done" that can we start to draw distinctions between two suggested differences.

Alfonso
01-22-2013, 03:25 PM
The way its used here in aikiweb seems to be an oversimplification of the kind that Chris is hinting as in "good" vs "bad" or mysterious vs scientific.

This link has a pretty good description of the kind of bagagge these terms have , where they come from, and why it makes the current discussion kind of non productive.

http://www.ycgf.org/Articles/Neijia-Waijia/arti_NW.htm

tanthalas
01-22-2013, 03:30 PM
If you go and talk to an experienced practitioner of Chinese IMA and ask him what the goal of his practice is, I doubt he will answer that it's to move something.

Hence I shrink at any suggestion (even if it's unintended) that moving something is somehow the goal of the practice. We all have different reasons for why we train, and the various litmus tests that are aimed at teasing out how and what we train are both imperfect and incomplete. The fact that you can both produce the same externally visible results for one particular test as a result of your training does not suggest that you are both in fact training the same thing.

Correlation does not equal causation. It's crucial to keep this in mind when you frame a discussion as such.

tanthalas
01-22-2013, 03:46 PM
http://www.ycgf.org/Articles/Neijia-Waijia/arti_NW.htm

Thanks for the link Alfonso. I find it particularly noteworthy that the article mentions the fact that external arts follow more natural body movement than internal arts, which aligns pretty well with the claim from some neijia practitioners that internal movement is anything but "natural".

morph4me
01-22-2013, 04:00 PM
I think of it terms of an axle and a wheel.
Either the axle will turn a wheel, as in a car - Internal,
or a wheel will turn an axle, as in a water wheel - External

If a person moves themselves, and as a result of that movement, another person in contact with them is affected, it's internal. If, on the other hand, a person has the goal of doing something to the other person an moves toward that end, it's external.

Chris Knight
01-22-2013, 04:51 PM
and yet still no mention of intent from anyone??

ChrisHein
01-22-2013, 05:04 PM
We all have different reasons for why The fact that you can both produce the same externally visible results for one particular test as a result of your training does not suggest that you are both in fact training the same thing.

I agree. But we have to share something in order to find our differences. Until we can get an "internal" and "external" person to do the same thing, we can't look at how they do that thing differently.

I assume when we talk about "internal" and "external" martial arts, we are still talking about them as relating to martial situations. Something martial is by it's nature, committed to achieving a result- martial dominance. Now, very few of us are soldiers or professional fighters, so being martially dominant isn't the number one objective for most of us, but when we are talking about using our bodies in martial situations, we are talking about better ways to achieve a result.

If we're not talking about martial effectiveness on some level, then I agree, training is purely subjective, and whatever floats your boat is what you should do. However when we want to compare two "kinds" of physical movement methods, we are indeed talking about getting a result. Only through setting a goal, and analyzing the way two different methods achieve that goal can we start to discuss if there are any real differences between those methods, and how one may be more or less advantageous in different situations.

Gary David
01-22-2013, 05:04 PM
and yet still no mention of intent from anyone??

Just So..........

phitruong
01-22-2013, 05:18 PM
and yet still no mention of intent from anyone??

i was intending to mention it, but i held back my intent. :)

phitruong
01-22-2013, 05:24 PM
The way its used here in aikiweb seems to be an oversimplification of the kind that Chris is hinting as in "good" vs "bad" or mysterious vs scientific.

This link has a pretty good description of the kind of bagagge these terms have , where they come from, and why it makes the current discussion kind of non productive.

http://www.ycgf.org/Articles/Neijia-Waijia/arti_NW.htm

Good find Alfonso. that article said pretty much what needed. i liked section 3.1 and the fighting tactic section. in many way, aikido fit into that.

tanthalas
01-22-2013, 05:32 PM
I agree. But we have to share something in order to find our differences. Until we can get an "internal" and "external" person to do the same thing, we can't look at how they do that thing differently.

Yes. I completely agree that it's useful to look at this and to find differences. But it's not the be-all, end-all differentiator, nor is it the goal. I think it's important not to lose sight of the fact that these are litmus tests and/or exercises used for studying the differences between two practices, and not to treat these as if they were somehow a definitive destination for either practice.

Let's remember this was the post I was responding to originally:

In the end if the goal is to move something, then the goal is to move something. It really doesn't matter how it is done as long as the goal is accomplished. If we use so-called internal ways or external ways...does it really matter...no not really as long as you can do it.

Unless I'm truly misunderstanding what you're saying, your post is more or less a great argument against this. You care about the differences in the how. This quoted post states pretty clearly that the how doesn't matter.

ChrisHein
01-22-2013, 05:54 PM
What this thread is about is asking what is the difference between internal and external. What Kevin is saying is that he personally doesn't care what you call it, he just wants to see what works to achieve a goal. Since the thread is about finding differences, how is the core question. But you can't find how without finding what.

All I'm saying is that you can't ignore the goal if you want to find a difference.

ChrisHein
01-22-2013, 06:21 PM
The way its used here in aikiweb seems to be an oversimplification of the kind that Chris is hinting as in "good" vs "bad" or mysterious vs scientific.

This link has a pretty good description of the kind of bagagge these terms have , where they come from, and why it makes the current discussion kind of non productive.

http://www.ycgf.org/Articles/Neijia-Waijia/arti_NW.htm

What I got from this article is not what it sounds like people here on Aikiweb talk about when they make internal and external distinctions.

If I were to make a very simplistic description of what I read in the article I would say it's something like this:

Waijia (external)- Develop the body to a high level. Make the body strong, fast, well conditioned, flexible and agile. Your body will become so powerful that little else needs to be known/practiced.

Neijia (internal) Don't worry about the physicality of the body, instead use the mind to perfect the way you use your body. You will not need powerful muscles if you use your body as efficiently as possible.

I would say this is a distinction only worth making in the beginning of training. As the article says, as time goes on you'll need both. This is the same with modern athletics, some people just make themselves stronger, some people just practice technique, but only those who excel in both become top level athletes.

Here on Aikiweb, this is not the kind of thing we are talking about when we reference "internal" as IP. IP is suppose to be a different kind of power all together, at least from my understanding.

HL1978
01-22-2013, 07:00 PM
What is the difference between internal and external? Where do you draw the line?

There are various grades of internal, so this is a very complex question in terms of where you want to draw the line. That being said, look at the following questions.

Does external use intent to drive motion?
Does external use air pressure beyond grunting to drive motion?
Does external focus on using one's own body weight (commited straight down) as a primary generator of power?
Does external focus on training from the inside out?
Does external tie the hips and waist into one unit?


Does internal rely on winding up, big circular movement, or rotating the hips to generate power?
Does internal rely on sequentially chaining muscles groups together to generate power?
Does internal rely on training from the outside in?
Does internal practice focus mostly on waza?

Which method results in unusual effects which do not rely on speed, timing or technique?

Which method results in unbalancing on contact, not being able to feel the opponents center of balance or take it? Which causes power to stay in you? Which causes you not to feel like you can let go? Which requires no windup to generate power? Which results in people swearing you weigh a lot more?

Where do these terms come from?
China. Neijia and Waijia. Nei=inside, wai=outside.

What specifically do they refer to?
See the previously mentioned links. Training paradaigms, effects.

Why do you feel it is an appropriate distinction to make?

The focus of the training is considerably different so are the observed effects.

How do you know when you feel internal? How do you know when you feel external?

For external, there is nothing unusual in terms of how the person moves. Superior applied technique is usually the result of good conventional body mechanics and timing, possibly combined with "explosive" power. Nothing feels explainable. Usually there is a force on force feeling. When one person pushes and the other pulls, the pusher is usually unbalanced. Strikes may knock someone back, but don't always stay "inside" or take their balance.

For internal, I will preface that to the person who has never felt this sort of thing, things may be "unexplainable" simply because they are outside the persons frame of reference.

The opponent can get out of positions traditionally considered weak, or from holds/pins without any apparent force on force sensation There is a distinct lack of feedback when you push or pull on someone. If they "push" and you pull, your balance is taken, conversely, if you push, you will find yourself unbalanced or you will feel like you are pushing an immovable object. Explosive power isn't required to move someone. The opponent can suddenly feel different with no overt movement. Significant weight differences become less relevant. Strikes are "penetrating".

---------
notice a trend here... off balanced, not moved, no feedback, pushing yourself away, no windup, no overt movement.

Tells for internal movement are there if you know what to look for, same for the effects once you have felt it. What you feel inside oneself is considerably different. Moving one limb may result in feeling something else move. As in if your arm moves, you may feel it tied to a leg or hip which also moves.

phitruong
01-22-2013, 08:00 PM
Waijia (external)- Develop the body to a high level. Make the body strong, fast, well conditioned, flexible and agile. Your body will become so powerful that little else needs to be known/practiced.

Neijia (internal) Don't worry about the physicality of the body, instead use the mind to perfect the way you use your body. You will not need powerful muscles if you use your body as efficiently as possible.

I would say this is a distinction only worth making in the beginning of training. As the article says, as time goes on you'll need both. This is the same with modern athletics, some people just make themselves stronger, some people just practice technique, but only those who excel in both become top level athletes.


Chris, you have selective filter on.

"If one practices Waijia, in the beginning one's good personal physical condition will bring more
obvious advantage than if from practicing Neijia. This is because Waijia follow natural ability or
the body's natural way of moving. But for Neijia practice, sometimes natural ability can just be a
disadvantage or hindrance to acquiring Neijia skill. This is why for beginners Waijia is much
easier than Neijia. When people attempt to advance from middle level to high level skill, even for
Waijia, the most important thing is internal training. For most people who have trained for a long
time in Waijia it will be difficult to catch up in the internal training. But for most middle level Neijia
people, it will be not too difficult. This is why many Waijia practitioners learn Neijia when they get
older. They know what they want but they feel their Waijia training is too difficult to achieve higher
level skill due to the decline in physical ability when one gets older. They want to use Neijia to help
themselves in this way. Also this is why many Neijia practitioner want to mix some Waijia skill in
the beginning of their training. They are worried that their beginning level Neijia skill is not good
enough for fighting."

why aged is a major factor in atheletes? why most atheletes retired in their 30s or earlier, if not then doping heavily? i mentioned one of the above post that old warriors don't intent to roll over and die when facing with younger, faster, and stronger. they liked to level the playing field a bit. i mentioned that i got bounced by Saotome sensei. He was 70s at the time and no he didn't get out of the way or using timing. read from the above quote on what happens to waijia folks when they get old. then look at Ueshiba, he handled all them young bucks when he was old, and one of them happened to be Saotome sensei.

question here is when most of your muscle are gone or when you passed by and into your 40s and not into doping, what will you do?

me, i am investing in old age.... and treachery! :D

Cady Goldfield
01-22-2013, 08:12 PM
and yet still no mention of intent from anyone??

Sure. I did.

In other words, an "internal" process is non-linear/non-sequential, constant cycle of manipulations; does not rely on outwardly visible centripedal, forward and/or downward-drop momentum movements and doesn't involve the use of the waist-torso-upper body musculature to generate "strength" and power. It employs unconventional groups of muscle and connective tissues not typically associated with body movement or power generation, and refined use of these is not outwardly visible, or is barely so. And, mental intent is used to generate and hold all of these processes together.

I intentionally didn't pursue that in detail, though, because it would beg a whole new topic of discussion, and this thread is complicated enough as is. :p

Josh Lerner
01-22-2013, 08:26 PM
China. Neijia and Waijia. Nei=inside, wai=outside.

To add another data point or two to the discussion . . .

Something that I'd never picked up on until Mike Sigman brought it up years ago was the general connection, in the martial arts, between the internal/external classification and the Daoist/Buddhist classification, and the related sociopolitical impact of those terms. Simply put, the Big Three internal arts in China (taijiquan, xingyiquan, baguazhang) are basically Daoist in nature, while the external arts are generally derived from Shaolin gongfu, and therefore basically come from a Buddhist background. Given that basic distinction, one of the implications of the terminology is that -

Internal = Daoist = native Chinese, and
External = Buddhist = foreign in origin (Buddhism having come from India).

Add to that the fact that the Chinese word for China is "Central Kingdom", and foreigners are literally "outsiders" (waiguoren), and you can start to get a sense that there can be at least a subtly implied value judgement when using those terms in Chinese. Not all the time, but it does occur.

Having said all that, MIke is the only person I've read who talks about that definition of the term in relation to martial arts, but I think it is a useful aspect of the discussion to keep in mind, even if that aspect doesn't come into play as much in modern training.

Nei, "internal" is also used in the sense of "inner", with "inner" meaning "more important" or sometimes "secret", kind of like "inner circle" in English. One example would be the most important classic medical text in Chinese, the Huangdi Neijing - "The Yellow Emperor's Inner Classic", occasionally mistranslated as "The Yellow Emperor's Classic on Internal Medicine." The implication of the name is that because it is the "inner" classic, the really important information is in there, as opposed to the "outer" classic, the Huangdi Waijing (a text which is mentioned by name but which is probably lost).

My general impression following these discussions over the last few years is that "external" is now used more derogatorily than "wai" was probably used historically in China to describe these things. Although practicing "nei" arts is usually seen as being healthier for you and more conducive to longevity, which may come from the association with Daoism (which can be obsessed with longevity). Note that I'm talking about how people who practice "internal" arts talk about their own arts, not about the actual effect on longevity. I don't know if practicing internal arts actually is more or less healthy for you than gongfu or karate.

Josh

hughrbeyer
01-22-2013, 10:21 PM
I'll tee off Kevin's post since it covers most of the points.

I think Chris and I are arguing that the dicussion is alot more complex than simply using two words. and I agree with his assessment that on the paradigm that it is most often discussed by people who really don't understand the complexity of different types of movement it is done so in the context of "good" "bad" movement vice different physcialities

Disagree here. Maybe in your general discussions, the internal = good, external = bad equivalency holds. Here on AikiWeb, the discussion has mostly been more sophisticated than that.

In the end if the goal is to move something, then the goal is to move something. It really doesn't matter how it is done as long as the goal is accomplished. If we use so-called internal ways or external ways...does it really matter...no not really as long as you can do it.

Depends on how you define the goal. If the goal is, "get this friggin oaf off me" and you can do it by throwing said oaf into the nearest wall using muscle power, good for you, do it.

If you're in a martial situation and want to move oafs who may be too large and strong for your muscle power, and who may not be so oafish after all and have the ability to strike back if they can tell what you're doing, the problem becomes more complicated. IS becomes more interesting.

MOST PARTICULARLY... in the context of Aikido training it becomes very interesting indeed. O-Sensei designed his art as a container for what he called aiki. Putting IS and aiki (by this definition) back into Aikido transforms every Aikido technique, giving it the stability and irresistability that it was always intended to have.

It is true that bodies being bodies, and good movement being good movement, there are very interesting correlations between IS and other athletic movement. Boxing coaches teach that a punch starts in the leg, power is delivered by the hips, and the punch is delivered through a relaxed arm. Hmmm, shades of spirals and relaxed power. A pitcher snaps his whole body like a whip, the power traveling up a body that moves in synchronized, not simultaneous fashion. Hmm, sorta like spiraling. Classical ballet offers imagery for how to move the limbs that sounds a lot like some of the imagery IS folks use. Weightlifters have different imagery to trigger recruitment of different muscle groups, interesting for the same reason.

But none of that is IS and none of it is aiki.

Cady Goldfield
01-22-2013, 10:39 PM
IMO, discussion of :Buddhist vs. Taoist" philosophical, ideological, political and/or religious aspects or meanings of "internal" and "external" takes us away from the bottom-line issue that the OP seemed to be asking, which is, what are the physical qualities of "internal" and "external" body methods that distinguish them from each other.

There are numerous instances where taoist and Buddhist concepts freely intermingle. They are not always black-and-white separate; there is cultural overlap that extends into the martial arts. Taoist and Buddhist thought are utilized as a tool to describe general ideas that can be interpreted on many different levels, both in "internal" and "external" body method arts. For example, Taekwondo talks about Um and Yang (In/Yo, Yin/Yang), but how the concept is manifested and expressed in that (external) art is very, very different than how it is manifested and expressed in (internal) I Liq Chuan.

Alfonso
01-22-2013, 10:45 PM
So it is complicated; the concepts are political / religious / regional , but in any case; modern athletics are not in the spectrum at all.

ChrisHein
01-23-2013, 12:35 AM
Chris, you have selective filter on.

"If one practices Waijia, in the beginning one's good personal physical condition will bring more
obvious advantage than if from practicing Neijia. This is because Waijia follow natural ability or
the body's natural way of moving.


Again, I believe words like "natural" are confusing us. But I read this to say "at first physical condition will bring obvious advantage" the reason this is, is simply because you move the way you are already moving, so you don't have to learn anything new. But the improved physical condition will improve your movement. This is why I said that in that article Waijia is basically described as improving physicality.


But for Neijia practice, sometimes natural ability can just be a
disadvantage or hindrance to acquiring Neijia skill. This is why for beginners Waijia is much
easier than Neijia. When people attempt to advance from middle level to high level skill, even for
Waijia, the most important thing is internal training. For most people who have trained for a long
time in Waijia it will be difficult to catch up in the internal training. But for most middle level Neijia
people, it will be not too difficult. This is why many Waijia practitioners learn Neijia when they get
older. They know what they want but they feel their Waijia training is too difficult to achieve higher
level skill due to the decline in physical ability when one gets older. They want to use Neijia to help
themselves in this way. Also this is why many Neijia practitioner want to mix some Waijia skill in
the beginning of their training. They are worried that their beginning level Neijia skill is not good
enough for fighting."


This describes my over simplification, that Neijia is about learning the most efficient way to do something. These ways may not be "natural" to the way you already move, but they are more efficient, so you don't need as much physicality to move powerfully. This can be hard as time goes on because you've practices improper technique for so long.


why aged is a major factor in atheletes? why most atheletes retired in their 30s or earlier, if not then doping heavily?


I assume here you are talking about top level athletes. Professional athletes have to master both efficient movement technique (neijia) and have powerful bodies (weijia). At their level you can't just be good at one or the other. So as their bodies age, even though they have great "neijia" they can't compete with younger athletes who have close to the same "neijia" but have way better "weijia" (because of youth). There are of course some athletes who have such phenomenal technique that they can compete much later in life. But these athletes still need decent physical bodies- everyone retires at some point.


question here is when most of your muscle are gone or when you passed by and into your 40s and not into doping, what will you do?


Nothing is going to change the fact that I will get old. That also doesn't mean I plan to roll over and die. I'll probably start being even better armed when I leave the house- that improves my "weijia" as my physicality gets big bonus points from the weapons advantage.


me, i am investing in old age.... and treachery! :D

Me too, I'm just not planning on physically beating a youth with my body alone(see above)- that's much more treacherous, if you ask me.:D

ChrisHein
01-23-2013, 12:36 AM
So it is complicated; the concepts are political / religious / regional , but in any case; modern athletics are not in the spectrum at all.

From that article you posted, I would say athletics are the spectrum that is being described.

grondahl
01-23-2013, 01:52 AM
If most of your muscle mass is gone in your 40s, your doing something very wrong in your training.



question here is when most of your muscle are gone or when you passed by and into your 40s and not into doping, what will you do?

me, i am investing in old age.... and treachery! :D

Michael Varin
01-23-2013, 02:09 AM
IMO, discussion of :Buddhist vs. Taoist" philosophical, ideological, political and/or religious aspects or meanings of "internal" and "external" takes us away from the bottom-line issue that the OP seemed to be asking, which is, what are the physical qualities of "internal" and "external" body methods that distinguish them from each other.

Well. . . IMO, no. It doesn't, and I was the OP.

Cady, I suggest that you re-read my initial post with a more open mind.

This is a complicated topic, and I would really appreciate if everyone took the additional time and effort to lay out their positions brick by brick. There is a strong tendency to offer conclusions as explanations and analysis. This does a disservice to us all.

I was aware of the probable origins of these terms long before I started this thread. Dismissing the fact that the terms were meant to describe geopolitical and religious-philosophical differences and not the quality of movement of these arts is precisely the type of carelessness that I am alluding to.

Michael Varin
01-23-2013, 02:12 AM
I am very glad the topic of intent came up. I haven't seen this fleshed out much on the forums.

Does anyone believe that "external" movement can be accomplished without intent?

Again, where, specifically, are you making the distinctions?

Lee Salzman
01-23-2013, 03:25 AM
I am very glad the topic of intent came up. I haven't seen this fleshed out much on the forums.

Does anyone believe that "external" movement can be accomplished without intent?

Again, where, specifically, are you making the distinctions?

All movements, whether you would want to or not, is done with intent - you intend to do something - at the low-level of movement planning in the brain, however you wanna dissect that - and then you, umm, do. The actual what is less important than the things that need to be done to work on the quality of it - only a superficial familiarity with it is needed to intuitively work the quality. The question is just: is it the intent we actually want, and, again, what is the quality of it? The difference in certain training paradigms is you now put the emphasis on exactly that - making sure intent is actually going where you want it to, and moreover, the quality of that intent - that is aspects like the continuity of it (does it break/have gaps/bleed away at some point or some direction?) or, say, the resilience of it (does it fall apart if you also try to do X, Y, or Z?).

The anecdotal empirical results say, well, to be blunt, our intent for the most part is crap and we need to work on it - there really aren't any people who start up on "internal" training with good intent on day one, at least from the couple hundred people I have seen by now. It takes work, lots of work.

Chris Knight
01-23-2013, 05:06 AM
The anecdotal empirical results say, well, to be blunt, our intent for the most part is crap and we need to work on it - there really aren't any people who start up on "internal" training with good intent on day one, at least from the couple hundred people I have seen by now. It takes work, lots of work

Damn straight Lee, my initial thought was "of course i move with intent!"

then you meet someone who does

it's the hardest thing I've probably done with my body, using intent to create palpible movement and changes within my body, without moving...

Try this, have someone push on you and move them with intent alone,with no external movement

It's incredibly hard? And more so without a trained body in the 1st place

As one internal guy said, you can't create in-yo without intent, it's just a waste of time

Demetrio Cereijo
01-23-2013, 05:17 AM
I am very glad the topic of intent came up. I haven't seen this fleshed out much on the forums.

Me too.

See Neuroscience of free will (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_of_free_will)

What is "intent"?

phitruong
01-23-2013, 07:30 AM
This describes my over simplification, that Neijia is about learning the most efficient way to do something. These ways may not be "natural" to the way you already move, but they are more efficient, so you don't need as much physicality to move powerfully. This can be hard as time goes on because you've practices improper technique for so long.


this is one of the main point in the argument between external and internal. i wouldn't use the word improper technique, but the argument is that external practices have to be "unlearn" in order to do internal, because of the muscles that you used in external practices countered the muscles and others stuffs that internal uses. one of the reason where a number of folks who quit their martial arts to focus on internal practices to "rewire" their body, then after some times, they would resume their martial arts and move quite differently than other folks. the article mentioned about blending the two and the difficulties of that. based on my experience so far, it's difficult to mix the two training approaches.

one curiousity of mine about a number of your posts, do you think that folks who practiced the so-called "internal" that discussed with you here on aikiweb and elsewhere, haven't done sports or participate in atheletics training before?


Me too, I'm just not planning on physically beating a youth with my body alone(see above)- that's much more treacherous, if you ask me.:D

no, you don't beat a youth with your own body. you need to rip the arm off the youth or someone else, and beat them with it. or you can go texas chain saw approach which would be alot more fun, especially when you got screaming co-ed, why they always scream and wear so little clothing? not that i am complaining, my you. :D

phitruong
01-23-2013, 07:52 AM
Me too.

See Neuroscience of free will (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_of_free_will)

What is "intent"?

desire driven thoughts

Cady Goldfield
01-23-2013, 09:11 AM
Michael,
My bad. There were a number of questions in your OP, including ones based on physical qualities and aspects, and the currents can carry one out to sea.

Josh Lerner
01-23-2013, 09:30 AM
Something that I'd never picked up on until Mike Sigman brought it up years ago was the general connection, in the martial arts, between the internal/external classification and the Daoist/Buddhist classification, and the related sociopolitical impact of those terms.

Update: I got an email from Mike, who says those are not his views, so maybe it was someone else on Qijin who mentioned it.

Back to your regularly scheduled debate.

Josh

hughrbeyer
01-23-2013, 10:26 AM
Intent, by itself, isn't enough to make the distinction either. Weightlifters, for example, are advised to use visualization/intent to ensure the pecs fire in a bench press rather than relying on the anterior delts. In that case, intent is being used to create a different external movement, rather than to create IS.

chillzATL
01-23-2013, 11:40 AM
Wouldn't it be easier to isolate a few things that one can do both externally and internally and simply discuss the differences? The distinctions, IMO, should be pretty clear to anyone who is honestly interested in the discussion and not just here to pick apart someone elses choice of words. For instance, simply receiving/resisting a push to the hand. The way someone interested in the internal would do this is significantly different than how someone with normal athletic or strength training would do it, regardless of their level.

HL1978
01-23-2013, 12:43 PM
As asking a number of rhetorical questions is not permissible, I wish to clarify the following:

There are various grades of internal, so this is a very complex question in terms of where you want to draw the line. That being said, look at the following questions.

Does external use intent to drive motion?
Does external use air pressure beyond grunting to drive motion?
Does external focus on using one's own body weight (commited straight down) as a primary generator of power?
Does external focus on training from the inside out?
Does external tie the hips and waist into one unit?

The answer to all of these is no, these are internal training features. Intent is more than just thinking im going to do this. You use intent based off sensitivity to gravity and thus loads in the body to shift what carries the weight of your body and that of the oppontent. You then have to use intent to maintain how that load is carried.Such an example is shifting a load from the arm, onto the hip, without moving the arm. This is more than a mere visualization, as you will feel the load shift, and if done for a long time in a static position, the point to which the weight has been transfered to will fatigue rather than the original point.

External uses grunting to generate power, and is how most exeternal stylists use a kiai. Conditioning based off of air (pressure) is not performed in a way which results in usuable power.

External stylists may move the waist independently of the hips. This dilutes power. Often, the waist (in conjunction with the knees) rotates to deliver power rather than opening and closing of the hips.

Does internal rely on winding up, big circular movement, or rotating the hips to generate power?
Does internal rely on sequentially chaining muscles groups together to generate power?
Does internal rely on training from the outside in?
Does internal practice focus mostly on waza?

The answer to these questions is no. Hips may open and close, but rotations are not required. If people are curious as to what is meant by open and close, i would be happy to explain. External people can adapt to use the hips in the manner, even though its not usually taught this way, but what differs is in what initiates the movement. This initiation from the middle on out, is different from the chaining from the legs on out.

Waza practice is different, wether training in a kata format or waza format. In external practice, the focus is on the technique. In internal practice, the kata or waza is means by which to practice a movement principle.

Which method results in unusual effects which do not rely on speed, timing or technique?

Internal. The key difference here, is something unusual which can't be explianed by superior timing speed or technique. This is one reason why practice with an older person who can perform this way seems counterintutive.

Which method results in unbalancing on contact, not being able to feel the opponents center of balance or take it? Which causes power to stay in you? Which causes you not to feel like you can let go? Which requires no windup to generate power? Which results in people swearing you weigh a lot more?

Internal. I'm probably channeling Dan Harden here, but when you feel stuff like that, it seems out of the ordinary.Though once you do feel it, some stories of 90lbs women or old men tossing around 200lbs young men seem plausable.

Since the OP wanted to know differences, I would focus on those above points and explore how they result, or what it feels like to have that performed on you. For example, it is possible to "simulate" the empty jacket feeling through speed by always being ahead of the other person, however it is very tiring. If you can do it with someone who isn't using speed, and isn't fatiqued, but rather leaves you unbalanced or without feedback without sweating, then you can probably assume that something different is occuring and you might be feeling "IS".

HL1978
01-23-2013, 12:47 PM
Wouldn't it be easier to isolate a few things that one can do both externally and internally and simply discuss the differences? The distinctions, IMO, should be pretty clear to anyone who is honestly interested in the discussion and not just here to pick apart someone elses choice of words. For instance, simply receiving/resisting a push to the hand. The way someone interested in the internal would do this is significantly different than how someone with normal athletic or strength training would do it, regardless of their level.

Sure, I think some topics of conversation could be:

hip usage
relaxation
using ones own weight
waist usage
the role of breath
the opponents weight/mass

from there i think it would be appropriate then to move on to push tests, or simple waza.

Would anyone like to discuss some of the above?

ChrisHein
01-23-2013, 12:51 PM
I think one of the camps on difference between "internal" and "external" might be a camp I can understand.

External= Improving physicality, more physical power

Internal= Improving efficiency, better use of existing physical power

Is this a general idea that people hold as the difference between "internal" and "external" martial arts?

If so, then do people believe that modern athletics does not seek to train more efficient movements? Is it a generally held belief that athletes are people who only seek to become physically stronger, faster, conditioned, agile etc. but do not practice technique? Is it a belief that athletes spend most of their time lifting weights and doing drills only to improve physicality, but there is no "rewiring" done, and they do not seek to improve their movements?

chillzATL
01-23-2013, 12:52 PM
Sure, I think some topics of conversation could be:

hip usage
relaxation
using ones own weight
waist usage
the role of breath
the opponents weight/mass

from there i think it would be appropriate then to move on to push tests, or simple waza.

Would anyone like to discuss some of the above?

I'm game, but I think focusing on a simple task that can be done both ways and have the differences in each method described fairly easily would be less prone to going off in the weeds. Probably best to start a new thread though.

chillzATL
01-23-2013, 12:54 PM
I think one of the camps on difference between "internal" and "external" might be a camp I can understand.

External= Improving physicality, more physical power

Internal= Improving efficiency, better use of existing physical power

Is this a general idea that people hold as the difference between "internal" and "external" martial arts?

If so, then do people believe that modern athletics does not seek to train more efficient movements? Is it a generally held belief that athletes are people who only seek to become physically stronger, faster, conditioned, agile etc. but do not practice technique? Is it a belief that athletes spend most of their time lifting weights and doing drills only to improve physicality, but there is no "rewiring" done, and they do not seek to improve their movements?

Considering all the previous history where people have tried to discuss this with you, this is about as nonsensical a post as you can get.

ChrisHein
01-23-2013, 01:02 PM
Sure, I think some topics of conversation could be:

hip usage
relaxation
using ones own weight
waist usage
the role of breath
the opponents weight/mass

from there i think it would be appropriate then to move on to push tests, or simple waza.

Would anyone like to discuss some of the above?

Hunter, I think good athletics strongly encourage training in all of the above things listed. I don't think working with this is outside of any professional athletes knowledge.

As far as "external" martial arts go, I'm not sure I've studied any, maybe Kendo? When I studied Kendo, I would say most all of those things were discussed. In Subwrestling, BJJ, Aikido, MMA, Muay thai, Wing Chun, and any other art I've studied, I can think of people talking about these things.

As far as I know of "internal" arts I've studied- Those things are all important as well.

I have never studied any physical activity that didn't address the things on the list.

ChrisHein
01-23-2013, 01:03 PM
Considering all the previous history where people have tried to discuss this with you, this is about as nonsensical a post as you can get.

Well let's not then. I have no idea what you are talking about. If you'd like to reference what you are talking about, put up a link, otherwise just say what you are getting at...

phitruong
01-23-2013, 01:43 PM
I think one of the camps on difference between "internal" and "external" might be a camp I can understand.

External= Improving physicality, more physical power

Internal= Improving efficiency, better use of existing physical power

Is this a general idea that people hold as the difference between "internal" and "external" martial arts?

If so, then do people believe that modern athletics does not seek to train more efficient movements? Is it a generally held belief that athletes are people who only seek to become physically stronger, faster, conditioned, agile etc. but do not practice technique? Is it a belief that athletes spend most of their time lifting weights and doing drills only to improve physicality, but there is no "rewiring" done, and they do not seek to improve their movements?

all the questions can be answer with both yes and no. let me give you an example, then you can tell me if whether it falls into improving physicality or improving efficiency. i have a spoon rested on top of the table. i can pick it up with two fingers, my hand+fingers, my forearm + hand + fingers, my whole arm, my upper body+my arm + fingers, my entire body from toes to the fingers. which of those falls under improving physicality and which improve efficiency? and asking the same question from atheletics point of view.

for internal stuffs, the last item is what i am doing. why? because it's interesting to do so. and because it relates to another of those old saying in internal training.

btw, there is no spoon! :)

HL1978
01-23-2013, 02:07 PM
I think one of the camps on difference between "internal" and "external" might be a camp I can understand.

External= Improving physicality, more physical power

Internal= Improving efficiency, better use of existing physical power

Is this a general idea that people hold as the difference between "internal" and "external" martial arts?

If so, then do people believe that modern athletics does not seek to train more efficient movements? Is it a generally held belief that athletes are people who only seek to become physically stronger, faster, conditioned, agile etc. but do not practice technique? Is it a belief that athletes spend most of their time lifting weights and doing drills only to improve physicality, but there is no "rewiring" done, and they do not seek to improve their movements?

I think you could characterize it that way if you assume that the there is only one way to efficiently move and neither internal nor external movement is inherently different. The problem I see with that is that what is considered efficent for external movement, is not always considered efficent for internal movement because they move fundamentally differently. That is to say, there can be at least two ways of efficent movement, both of which have their tradeoffs.

I think you have to differentiate technique from principle. Technique generally refers to one specific movement for a particular situation, such as a particular waza. Principle is generally how you power any particular waza. This is why I tend to state that a throw is the same as a kick, as a cut as a punch. It is a different focus in terms of how you practice.

ChrisHein
01-23-2013, 02:16 PM
all the questions can be answer with both yes and no. let me give you an example, then you can tell me if whether it falls into improving physicality or improving efficiency. i have a spoon rested on top of the table. i can pick it up with two fingers, my hand+fingers, my forearm + hand + fingers, my whole arm, my upper body+my arm + fingers, my entire body from toes to the fingers. which of those falls under improving physicality and which improve efficiency? and asking the same question from atheletics point of view.

It doesn't fall into improving physicality. I would say the better/more of your body you can recruit to do a given task, the more efficient it is, although in this case, efficient might not be the right word. Spoons are light objects, lifting it taxes the system very little.


for internal stuffs, the last item is what i am doing. why? because it's interesting to do so. and because it relates to another of those old saying in internal training.

btw, there is no spoon! :)

I think I understand where you are going:

Internal= better organization and use of the body.

External= making the body bigger, stronger etc.

Is that a fair assessment?

ChrisHein
01-23-2013, 02:30 PM
I think you could characterize it that way if you assume that the there is only one way to efficiently move and neither internal nor external movement is inherently different. The problem I see with that is that what is considered efficent for external movement, is not always considered efficent for internal movement because they move fundamentally differently. That is to say, there can be at least two ways of efficent movement, both of which have their tradeoffs.

Ok, we're getting at the heart of it with this post I believe.
So, if there was only one "best" way to move the body, then we could say, Internal is the study of efficient movement, and External is the study of making a more powerful body.
We can agree on this, correct?

But then you are adding the caveat, that some believe there are other ways to move the body. And that there is likely a better way to move the body then professional athletes have found. So one must study efficient movement within this "better" way of moving the body to truly study internal. Am I understanding you correctly?


I think you have to differentiate technique from principle. Technique generally refers to one specific movement for a particular situation, such as a particular waza. Principle is generally how you power any particular waza. This is why I tend to state that a throw is the same as a kick, as a cut as a punch. It is a different focus in terms of how you practice.

I think this is a good distinction to make.

Techniques are specific methods used to achieve a specific goal.

Principles are inherent limitations and advantages within the human body.

If you think that is about what you are going for, I agree that this is a good and useful distinction.

phitruong
01-23-2013, 03:07 PM
It doesn't fall into improving physicality. I would say the better/more of your body you can recruit to do a given task, the more efficient it is, although in this case, efficient might not be the right word. Spoons are light objects, lifting it taxes the system very little.


the reason i used the spoon is because it's a light object. for internal folks (i am safe from speak for the internal folks since none of them near me which won't allow them to kill me), we don't differentiate light objects or heavy objects. the old saying "one moves, all move." so to pick up the spoon, i used the fingers which connected to the rest of the body which then also move, i.e. i powered the spoon lifting with my whole body. i bring the ground to the spoon. not only that, i also focus on breathing to aid the lifting, and focus on be able to handle forces applied (imaginary) to me in various directions at the same time as i am lifting the spoon. this allows me to be "on" all the time (except for when i am intimate moments...maybe), so that i don't have a different response for a different thing. terms like efficiency or better or good and so on, just doesn't make much sense here. it's down right a strange way of doing things. heck, most folks just reach out and pick up the spoon without a second thought, regardless they are athletics or not. internal folks are really a bunch of nut jobs. :)


Internal= better organization and use of the body.

External= making the body bigger, stronger etc.

Is that a fair assessment?

see my respond above.

Lee Salzman
01-23-2013, 03:16 PM
the reason i used the spoon is because it's a light object. for internal folks (i am safe from speak for the internal folks since none of them near me which won't allow them to kill me), we don't differentiate light objects or heavy objects. the old saying "one moves, all move." so to pick up the spoon, i used the fingers which connected to the rest of the body which then also move, i.e. i powered the spoon lifting with my whole body. i bring the ground to the spoon. not only that, i also focus on breathing to aid the lifting, and focus on be able to handle forces applied (imaginary) to me in various directions at the same time as i am lifting the spoon. this allows me to be "on" all the time (except for when i am intimate moments...maybe), so that i don't have a different response for a different thing. terms like efficiency or better or good and so on, just doesn't make much sense here. it's down right a strange way of doing things. heck, most folks just reach out and pick up the spoon without a second thought, regardless they are athletics or not. internal folks are really a bunch of nut jobs. :)

see my respond above.

That's the core of it, phi! When one eats with a spoon, they are not worried about being attacked by other spoons from all directions at any time. If one weight lifts a spoon, or throws a spoon, or, I don't even know why people are doing that all to this poor little spoon, but regardless, their focus is uni-directional and fixated on that one action - they have lost awareness and integration of all the other directions of potential and actual spoon defense. We are not at the mercy of any incidental spoon because we are using all possible spoons in all possible directions, real or imagined, all the time. That sounds crazy. Where are my meds?

Basia Halliop
01-23-2013, 03:27 PM
It doesn't fall into improving physicality. I would say the better/more of your body you can recruit to do a given task, the more efficient it is, although in this case, efficient might not be the right word. Spoons are light objects, lifting it taxes the system very little.

I think I understand where you are going:

Internal= better organization and use of the body.

External= making the body bigger, stronger etc.

Is that a fair assessment?

Hmm, something seems wrong to me about this division, because in my experience a lot of athletics, and certainly the majority of aikido that people appear to be calling 'external', is about using the body more efficiently such that less force is needed. E.g., using momentum, gravity, leverage, relative positioning are all often called 'external' in the discussions I've seen, yet the whole point of them is efficiency and efficacy so that the body doesn't have to be bigger or stronger.

So that makes it seem to me that this definition isn't quite on the mark yet.

tanthalas
01-23-2013, 03:32 PM
So one must study efficient movement within this "better" way of moving the body to truly study internal. Am I understanding you correctly?

I'm way out of my league here since I don't really understand any of this stuff, but that's not what I'm reading from the others' posts (or from the article Alfonso posted).

I think the term "efficient movement" is confounding because it lacks a proper definition when we are using it -- it depends on how you measure it, doesn't it?

One might consider efficient to be using the least amount of energy (I'm talking physical/caloric energy here) used in order to perform a task. In that sense, simply lifting a finger without using anything else in your body may actually be the most efficient way. After all, it does seem like recruiting your entire body to lift a single spoon is kind of silly and overdoing it, isn't it?

Actually, I just thought of a better example. There was a period of time when I was obsessed with how I walked and thought about why people walk/run the way they naturally do as opposed to the way a TaiChi person might walk, or how a soldier might march... since the way people normally walk involves constantly losing and regaining our balance. And the answer was, well, the way we naturally walk is actually the most efficient way to walk and burns the least amount of energy. But it's certainly not the way an internal guy might tell you to walk.

Again, to fall back to that article -- just a thought: efficiency may not actually be a requirement for internal movement... efficiency in movement may result from high-level training in internal movement, but it's hardly the goal nor is it the defining measure (hey, the cause and effect thing I mentioned earlier again!). Things like whole-body movement and maintaining balance/equilibrium/groundpath at all times may be more important concepts to an internal artist than efficient movement. It might even be that... just like a neophyte in external movement needs to undergo a lot of training to move efficiently in an external fashion, a neophyte in internal movement also needs to move efficiently in an internal fashion. That is, a beginner of internal movement may actually be incredibly inefficient (especially compared to an intermediate external guy) and burning a ton of energy, but as they get better, they become more efficient at internal movement. Drawing from this, you might even have a case for saying that an expert in external movement may be moving equally efficiently as an expert in internal movement... but they're moving efficiently in different ways.

Again, I don't claim for any of this to be remotely true -- just a thought.

Alfonso
01-23-2013, 03:46 PM
Chris, "internal" vs "external" in martial arts is about martial arts from china; Buddhist vs Daoist , Qing vs Ming. Both types are interested in developing and using Qi as the engine behind it, both have conditioning of the body through breath as important aspects to it, both are related to lineage; both are based on a worldview that is not the one used in scientific descriptions; but an empirical knowledge non the less.

Modern sport training could be using elements found in both, or none, but as a full description it is not about external vs internal anymore.

ChrisHein
01-23-2013, 03:49 PM
the reason i used the spoon is because it's a light object. for internal folks (i am safe from speak for the internal folks since none of them near me which won't allow them to kill me), we don't differentiate light objects or heavy objects. the old saying "one moves, all move." so to pick up the spoon, i used the fingers which connected to the rest of the body which then also move, i.e. i powered the spoon lifting with my whole body. i bring the ground to the spoon. not only that, i also focus on breathing to aid the lifting, and focus on be able to handle forces applied (imaginary) to me in various directions at the same time as i am lifting the spoon. this allows me to be "on" all the time (except for when i am intimate moments...maybe), so that i don't have a different response for a different thing. terms like efficiency or better or good and so on, just doesn't make much sense here. it's down right a strange way of doing things. heck, most folks just reach out and pick up the spoon without a second thought, regardless they are athletics or not. internal folks are really a bunch of nut jobs. :)



This is a tough one for me to wrap my head around, so if I go off in a weird direction please tell me.

The more of your body you recruit to do a specific task, the more it taxes the system. So for example, If I lift a spoon off the table with only the muscles of my hand, I am taxing very little of my body. If I use my forearm muscles in addition to my hand muscles I tax more of my body. The more of my body I use, the more taxing it is. Larger muscle groups require more energy from the body.

This is why I said it's not efficient to use the whole body to move a light object. I think we kind of might agree on that, but there is a sticking point here somewhere.

I personally believe that only muscles move the physical body. I know that sounds like a really obvious thing to say, but I want to make sure we're all on the same page. So, if you want to move the body, you'll have to use muscle. The more muscle you use to move the body, the more you will tax the system. The less muscle you use to move the body the less you tax the system.

Now there is a type of training, where we learn to only fire the useful muscles, in only the correct firing order to do the job we need them to do. This kind of training requires all non essential muscles to relax, and all essential muscles to fire in their most efficient order. This gives us maximum muscle recruitment, for only the duration needed, and keeps all muscles that don't need to work in a relaxed state. This type of training makes the smallest tax on the body possible, to achieve the best results possible.

I would call a kind of training like this very efficient, and so with the definitions I was asking about, I would then call this kind of training "internal".

What I get from your post is one of these things:

You believe taxing the whole system, no matter the requirement of force, is a good idea?

Or are you saying that more muscular recruitment doesn't tax the body more?

Or, are you saying that there are ways to move the body that doesn't require muscle?

I'm sure these are all at least kind of wrong, but I'm asking for clarification.

Lee Salzman
01-23-2013, 03:55 PM
I'm way out of my league here since I don't really understand any of this stuff, but that's not what I'm reading from the others' posts (or from the article Alfonso posted).

I think the term "efficient movement" is confounding because it lacks a proper definition when we are using it -- it depends on how you measure it, doesn't it?

One might consider efficient to be using the least amount of energy (I'm talking physical/caloric energy here) used in order to perform a task. In that sense, simply lifting a finger without using anything else in your body may actually be the most efficient way. After all, it does seem like recruiting your entire body to lift a single spoon is kind of silly and overdoing it, isn't it?

Actually, I just thought of a better example. There was a period of time when I was obsessed with how I walked and thought about why people walk/run the way they naturally do as opposed to the way a TaiChi person might walk, or how a soldier might march... since the way people normally walk involves constantly losing and regaining our balance. And the answer was, well, the way we naturally walk is actually the most efficient way to walk and burns the least amount of energy. But it's certainly not the way an internal guy might tell you to walk.

Again, to fall back to that article -- just a thought: efficiency may not actually be a requirement for internal movement... efficiency in movement may result from high-level training in internal movement, but it's hardly the goal nor is it the defining measure (hey, the cause and effect thing I mentioned earlier again!). Things like whole-body movement and maintaining balance/equilibrium/groundpath at all times may be more important concepts to an internal artist than efficient movement. It might even be that... just like a neophyte in external movement needs to undergo a lot of training to move efficiently in an external fashion, a neophyte in internal movement also needs to move efficiently in an internal fashion. That is, a beginner of internal movement may actually be incredibly inefficient (especially compared to an intermediate external guy) and burning a ton of energy, but as they get better, they become more efficient at internal movement. Drawing from this, you might even have a case for saying that an expert in external movement may be moving equally efficiently as an expert in internal movement... but they're moving efficiently in different ways.

Again, I don't claim for any of this to be remotely true -- just a thought.

Efficiency is not even the half of it! The onion has layers.

At a lower layer of refinement, you have structure and linear "jin" - learning to efficiently coordinate the body to lift things, as one unified action, so that at least you are efficiently conveying force end to end (where one end could say be the ground and another your hand holding the spoon) - to borrow terminology, you could call this a jin pathway or ground path, IIRC, in Mike's lingo. If you stop there, well, you're missing out on just about, well, everything. It just gets only more interesting from there.

Higher up in the onion, there are no more paths, your body is expressing all paths at all times, all meeting somewhere... guess where? And, in a sense, stuff no longer even travels through, it just rides on the surface. Nothing gets into you any more, no attacker nor spoon.

Then even higher up, you realize you can make all kinds of interesting things happen by manipulating the activity of stuff going on along the surface and all the crazy stuff that happens when conscious beings come in contact with it.

And hell, these are just the layers on the onion that I and others are learning about. There are probably lots of coolers layers we are just too dumb to comprehend at the moment. :D

I think in the end it is more about cool martial applications, particularly for aikido, than it is about efficiency. You become incidentally more efficient, but I was more efficient just by working linear jin. If all I wanted was efficiency, why would I be chasing aiki, when I could just perfect linear jin to get that? We are trying to become martial artists, I hope, and it is fair to say that the demands of martial art, compared to many other sports are just a bit different, like tennis is different than football is different than cycling. You can't quite lump all the training in with each other and say even they're all chasing after their own sorts of efficiency. Qualitative, they're all quite different, and, aside from some broad areas of overlap, there are vast areas of non-overlap and context-specific skills.

ChrisHein
01-23-2013, 03:58 PM
I'm way out of my league here since I don't really understand any of this stuff, but that's not what I'm reading from the others' posts (or from the article Alfonso posted).

I think the term "efficient movement" is confounding because it lacks a proper definition when we are using it -- it depends on how you measure it, doesn't it?

One might consider efficient to be using the least amount of energy (I'm talking physical/caloric energy here) used in order to perform a task. In that sense, simply lifting a finger without using anything else in your body may actually be the most efficient way. After all, it does seem like recruiting your entire body to lift a single spoon is kind of silly and overdoing it, isn't it?

Actually, I just thought of a better example. There was a period of time when I was obsessed with how I walked and thought about why people walk/run the way they naturally do as opposed to the way a TaiChi person might walk, or how a soldier might march... since the way people normally walk involves constantly losing and regaining our balance. And the answer was, well, the way we naturally walk is actually the most efficient way to walk and burns the least amount of energy. But it's certainly not the way an internal guy might tell you to walk.

Again, to fall back to that article -- just a thought: efficiency may not actually be a requirement for internal movement... efficiency in movement may result from high-level training in internal movement, but it's hardly the goal nor is it the defining measure (hey, the cause and effect thing I mentioned earlier again!). Things like whole-body movement and maintaining balance/equilibrium/groundpath at all times may be more important concepts to an internal artist than efficient movement. It might even be that... just like a neophyte in external movement needs to undergo a lot of training to move efficiently in an external fashion, a neophyte in internal movement also needs to move efficiently in an internal fashion. That is, a beginner of internal movement may actually be incredibly inefficient (especially compared to an intermediate external guy) and burning a ton of energy, but as they get better, they become more efficient at internal movement. Drawing from this, you might even have a case for saying that an expert in external movement may be moving equally efficiently as an expert in internal movement... but they're moving efficiently in different ways.

Again, I don't claim for any of this to be remotely true -- just a thought.

I think we agree about a lot of things here.

A question I have to ask though.

How can one recruit more muscle (muscles make power) and yet tax the system less (use less energy).

If this is not what we are talking about, then.
A) How does the body make force without using muscle.
Or
B) How do you recruit less muscle and achieve more work?

Kevin Leavitt
01-23-2013, 04:02 PM
I think you could characterize it that way if you assume that the there is only one way to efficiently move and neither internal nor external movement is inherently different. The problem I see with that is that what is considered efficent for external movement, is not always considered efficent for internal movement because they move fundamentally differently. That is to say, there can be at least two ways of efficent movement, both of which have their tradeoffs.



Hunter, good stuff I really like the way you explain these concepts in your previous post! Thanks.

Just some thoughts....

As you know, I am a proponent of the "IS" methodologies and have found value...so I do want to make that clear to folks out there. I don't find the over simplification of methodologies or fundamentalist discussion (external vs internal) helful though. You have a good way of explaining this stuff.

Lots of good points brought up by many...someone said earlier about martial focus/intent. That is the basis of my concern for doing this stuff...whatever I do in budo so I suppose that should be clear to. I don't do it for the sake of doing it or because I am fascinated by a one inch punch. For me it is about efficiency.

Sometimes efficiency can be expediency. Which I suppose is why I stated "it doesn't matter how you move 200 lbs as long as you do it." I suppose you need to caveat this further and say "do it in a matter that is acceptable". or "do it in a manner that accomplishes your goal."

As Chris has clarified. We have to have a baseline or a goal in order to really have a discussion about efficiency, effectiveness, or appropriateness. I think that is really the sticking point on why it is so hard for us to agree on much here on aikiweb. We all have different perspectives on why we do what we do.

So, when I meet up with an "IS guru" I am simply evaluating how what he is showing me will improve what I do martially? how does it fit in my kit bag?

Phi talks alot about his goals with old age and treachery and yeah I agree with that. I think as I get older I find that continuing to refine my practice and finding different ways to do things that are more efficient extend my ability to be relevant.

I don't fear getting old, I fear losing relevancy so hanging onto that is important to me!

I think you have to differentiate technique from principle.

Personally I don't think you HAVE to. I think we do. I think we do this in training because it is so damn hard to get folks to learn the principles that we end up using techniques to provide a frame work for principles. Folks simply can't get principles and it is a struggle to communicate it to them so we have to develop constructs and frameworks for them to learn. The IS exercises are frameworks designed to teach the principles. What I like about them is they don't pretend to be martial techniques thus they tend to focus on developing the principles and I think they tend to confuse folks less about what is really going on. Of course, as we have seen in most practices like Tai Chi and Ba Gau, much gets lots and dies in methodology without good teachers that understand how to teach correctly.

Martial Waza I think makes it more complicated cause we are also trying to teach "martial effectiveness" at the same time, thus back to what Phi is saying....the Young can use speed and strength and get by just fine. Old guys like us...well we need to find some new tools.

However, I want to clarify that for me, this has nothing to do with "good" or "bad" nor do I think you can say that speed and muscle strength is less efficient than internal strength. It is not that simple martially speaking. For a 18 year old, IMO, his speed, agility, and muscular strength is quite possibly the best and most efficient and economical use available to accomplish a goal.

The conversation concerning what basically constitutes a hierarchy of from best to worst in use of something is illogical. Its like saying a Nuke is more efficient than a AR-15, that is more efficient than a knife, that is more efficient than your fist. It simply depends on your goal and endstates.

Technique generally refers to one specific movement for a particular situation, such as a particular waza. Principle is generally how you power any particular waza. This is why I tend to state that a throw is the same as a kick, as a cut as a punch. It is a different focus in terms of how you practice.

I lament on this very thing all the time with my BJJ students. White and Blue belts spend most of their time learning techniques that are independent. I have in my curriculum I think close to 1000 videos that we teach over a period of a couple of years to develop the framework they need to be martially successful in BJJ. In about 3 or 4 months the White Belts have enough tools in their tool box to defeat new white belts and blue belts can defeat all white belts and some blue belts, but not higher belts. This goes on for about 2 to 3 years...then I'd say 80% of them quit.

Why? My hypothesis is that they learn all the independent techniques but cannot take the next step which is synthesis. You simply cannot get better by continuing to have one specific movement for a particular situation. You must abandon the techniques and begin to do things differently. At the purple belt level it should start to become what I would equate to free form jazz. You simply have to begin to understand the principles behind the techniques in order to move to the next levels.

These principles are universal. I also believe that given the goal and context of training that you will tend to gravitate to efficiency towards that goal. Baseball pitchers will do it. Boxers will do it etc. They will advance far enough to where they achieve success. There is no reason to advance any further. However, if you don't really have a goal in mind, I would think you would tend to be all over the place in what you are doing and studying....like no real endstate of focus per say. That would make me very grumpy personally.

So I find the debates that attempt to say that professional athletes use IS/IP or they don't pointless. I think they use what works for what they are doing and to try and establish a dichotomy or a percentage of what they do or don't do futile.

Of course, we are learning things all the time and I do have hope that many of the methods many of us are experimenting with and apparently getting better at understanding and transmitting encouraging and I do positively believe that humans will continue to push the boundaries of efficiency to exploit things that are exploitable.

I hope some of this makes sense and is relevant!

So, if I get with Hunter and I place a condition or constraint on him and then he can show me how to defeat it or move in a "efficient/effective" way...then naturally I am gonna say..."hey Hunter, how'd you do that?" Then Hunter says, "well I do x,y,z". If I can't do that, maybe he says..."well its because you haven't developed "a,b,c". and then I say "Well how do I develop a,b,c?" and Hunter says, "by doing d,e,f?"

Well I think that is a productive conversation and one that matters.

All the other conversation about what Johnny is doing is external and what Don is doing is internal means jack squat. Same with the conversations about what O'sensei did or didn't do. Sure it is entertaining, but the guy is dead and can't really do much for me, but then again I tend to be a realist so I do have that bias.

Back to my original comment earlier in the thread. I simply meant to say that I don't find the over simplification of internal versus external helpful in explaining anything. In short I think if you have goals and end states for what you are doing, then you can seek out methodologies that are helpful in achieving those goals. I think the biggest problem many martial artist face is they don't really have a good understanding of them thus the flounder with various methodologies in an attempt to latch on to something.

When I have been with the various "IS gurus" I have walked away with a tremendous amount of respect and found meaning and application in what they taught me. I have found all of them to be generous. I have found them to be VERY effective at teaching the concepts I came to aikido to learn, but did not. Maybe it was the failure of my teachers, maybe it was my failure to learn, maybe I was not ready or worthy at the time. Who knows!

Anyway, I have found none of them to be a waste of time...not like some of the wack-a-doos I encountered 20 years ago doing no touch ki throws, or pressure point knock outs.

The biggest problem I have is "relative value". That is, what do you spend your time on in training. It boils down to priorities and time. Do I spend time with my kids and family? my profession? Time doing BJJ drills and coaching to develop my organization? or do I spend time doing IS exercises? what are the trade offs and what will give me the best gains for my time spent with what I have time to do?

In the end it all boils down to efficiency and effectivenss...however, that will mean different things on different days.

Guys, my only advice to anyone is...have an open mind and drop the fundamentalist "one right answer", find the holy grail...over analytical thinking and get on with life and enjoy the ride.

I like Phi's attitude to life...he always makes me smile when I read his post. His internal strength is strong! or maybe it is the Kim Chi I don't know.

Lee Salzman
01-23-2013, 04:03 PM
This is a tough one for me to wrap my head around, so if I go off in a weird direction please tell me.

The more of your body you recruit to do a specific task, the more it taxes the system. So for example, If I lift a spoon off the table with only the muscles of my hand, I am taxing very little of my body. If I use my forearm muscles in addition to my hand muscles I tax more of my body. The more of my body I use, the more taxing it is. Larger muscle groups require more energy from the body.

This is why I said it's not efficient to use the whole body to move a light object. I think we kind of might agree on that, but there is a sticking point here somewhere.

I personally believe that only muscles move the physical body. I know that sounds like a really obvious thing to say, but I want to make sure we're all on the same page. So, if you want to move the body, you'll have to use muscle. The more muscle you use to move the body, the more you will tax the system. The less muscle you use to move the body the less you tax the system.

Now there is a type of training, where we learn to only fire the useful muscles, in only the correct firing order to do the job we need them to do. This kind of training requires all non essential muscles to relax, and all essential muscles to fire in their most efficient order. This gives us maximum muscle recruitment, for only the duration needed, and keeps all muscles that don't need to work in a relaxed state. This type of training makes the smallest tax on the body possible, to achieve the best results possible.

I would call a kind of training like this very efficient, and so with the definitions I was asking about, I would then call this kind of training "internal".

What I get from your post is one of these things:

You believe taxing the whole system, no matter the requirement of force, is a good idea?

Or are you saying that more muscular recruitment doesn't tax the body more?

Or, are you saying that there are ways to move the body that doesn't require muscle?

I'm sure these are all at least kind of wrong, but I'm asking for clarification.

Chris, this example is EXACTLY the opposite way of how you need to look at it, "This kind of training requires all non essential muscles to relax, and all essential muscles to fire in their most efficient order."

Flip this on it's head. Say someone is pushing you from the front. Now, in terms of efficiency, it is most efficient to completely relax the back side, and essentially use the other person as half of a supporting arch, could be a clinch or whatever, for example. If they pull away suddenly, oops, you're now hosed, you will fall forward, however slightly, in that moment. You can react quickly to pull back, but then you're reacting, and while you're reacting to their action, they've already moved on to hit you. And you can react to that hit and while you're doing that they're kicking you and on and on. You're always one step behind. You're always committed, except when you're doing nothing, and doing nothing is not an option.

You must be on everywhere beforehand, so that there's never a reaction. Reaction is too late - it means the other's initiative is dominating you. Half the game is making sure the mind never shuts off to the infinite possibilities of what can happen at any time, despite what your body may incidentally be doing at the time.

ChrisHein
01-23-2013, 04:05 PM
Chris, "internal" vs "external" in martial arts is about martial arts from china; Buddhist vs Daoist , Qing vs Ming.


I think this is a sticking point for our discussions. Most of the people here who use the word Internal or the word External are not serious students of chinese martial arts. Now if we were talking about the difference between Neijia and Weijia, and people were useing those words, and relating them back to specific styles of Chinese martial arts, I would agree with you. But we are clearly starting to make our own definition of what we mean when we use the english words internal, or external martial arts.


Both types are interested in developing and using Qi as the engine behind it, both have conditioning of the body through breath as important aspects to it, both are related to lineage; both are based on a worldview that is not the one used in scientific descriptions; but an empirical knowledge non the less.

Again if we were talking about Neijia and Weijia I would say you are correct. But we are not talking about Chinese martial arts here, we are talking about how aikido people are using the words. Many of whom have probably never trained seriously in a Chinese system.

ChrisHein
01-23-2013, 04:11 PM
Chris, this example is EXACTLY the opposite way of how you need to look at it, "This kind of training requires all non essential muscles to relax, and all essential muscles to fire in their most efficient order."

Flip this on it's head. Say someone is pushing you from the front. Now, in terms of efficiency, it is most efficient to completely relax the back side, and essentially use the other person as half of a supporting arch, could be a clinch or whatever, for example. If they pull away suddenly, oops, you're now hosed, you will fall forward, however slightly, in that moment. You can react quickly to pull back, but then you're reacting, and while you're reacting to their action, they've already moved on to hit you. And you can react to that hit and while you're doing that they're kicking you and on and on. You're always one step behind. You're always committed, except when you're doing nothing, and doing nothing is not an option.

You must be on everywhere beforehand, so that there's never a reaction. Reaction is too late - it means the other's initiative is dominating you. Half the game is making sure the mind never shuts off to the infinite possibilities of what can happen at any time, despite what your body may incidentally be doing at the time.

With your example, we are getting into the idea of a technique. A technique might be to relax all of your backside, and lean against a person, that might be a good or bad technique, but it's not the body use specifically.

So if you are "everywhere beforehand" so that you never have to react, how are you not using a huge amount of energy? Are you saying with being "everywhere beforehand" that your body is always working?

Lee Salzman
01-23-2013, 04:20 PM
With your example, we are getting into the idea of a technique. A technique might be to relax all of your backside, and lean against a person, that might be a good or bad technique, but it's not the body use specifically.

So if you are "everywhere beforehand" so that you never have to react, how are you not using a huge amount of energy? Are you saying with being "everywhere beforehand" that your body is always working?

And it's not really a technique. That's a macroscopic example of something that happens even at the level of the microscopic. Physical interactions are rarely clean and forces are rarely simple. A single push is not even just a nice straight push like they show you in physics diagrams. Another human being is not a spoon. They don't respond to pushes like a spoon - hell, they can actually respond, the spoon can't.

On the other thing, because I am using a huge amount of mental energy, and because I am still a noob, I use a lot more physical energy than I need, though much less than when I started - I dare say I am becoming more physically efficient, but that is not expressly the goal. The goal here is to achieve a position of dominance. The quicker you dominate, the quicker you can return to be lazy and eating cheetohs lounging around on your couch. That's pretty efficient from the long-term perspective, not so much from the short-term perspective of the encounter itself. :D

Kevin Leavitt
01-23-2013, 04:23 PM
Chris wrote:

personally believe that only muscles move the physical body. I know that sounds like a really obvious thing to say, but I want to make sure we're all on the same page. So, if you want to move the body, you'll have to use muscle. The more muscle you use to move the body, the more you will tax the system. The less muscle you use to move the body the less you tax the system.

What is your take on Fascia? I seemed to have read and most of my IS guys tell me that recruitment of fascia plays an integral part in this stuff which I tend to agree with especially now that I have some torn in my leg that is very noticable along with some other ligaments, and tendons that affect my structure. I think there is much more going on in the system than just muscles. What is your take on this?

ChrisHein
01-23-2013, 04:53 PM
Chris wrote:

What is your take on Fascia? I seemed to have read and most of my IS guys tell me that recruitment of fascia plays an integral part in this stuff which I tend to agree with especially now that I have some torn in my leg that is very noticable along with some other ligaments, and tendons that affect my structure. I think there is much more going on in the system than just muscles. What is your take on this?

I've done some reading on fascia. From what I got, it's main purpose is in allowing muscles to slide over each other. It also holds some stuff in and together. I have heard that there have been studies done (I've not actually read any of the studies), that show fascia might sometimes contract. That's all hearsay to me, so I couldn't tell you anything about that.

I feel that connective tissue is basically, connective. Muscles contract and pull on the connective tissue which makes us move. Even if there is some way (and I've very suspicious of this) that connective tissue can do a small amount of work, it could never compare to muscle.

Kevin Leavitt
01-23-2013, 06:04 PM
Well I am not really sure what is going on, but seems to make sense to me that the fascia would do some things. Doesn't really matter to me, but when someone can show me how to reduce proprioceptions and move without triggering a response from by uke...I am down with learning that for sure!

phitruong
01-23-2013, 09:06 PM
This is a tough one for me to wrap my head around, so if I go off in a weird direction please tell me.


tough for me too. when i started on this stuffs, most things went right over my head. now, most of them still go over my head, but i got a few things here and there so that i have an idea of a map of sort.


The more of your body you recruit to do a specific task, the more it taxes the system. So for example, If I lift a spoon off the table with only the muscles of my hand, I am taxing very little of my body. If I use my forearm muscles in addition to my hand muscles I tax more of my body. The more of my body I use, the more taxing it is. Larger muscle groups require more energy from the body.

This is why I said it's not efficient to use the whole body to move a light object. I think we kind of might agree on that, but there is a sticking point here somewhere.


what about distributed power system point of view? as in distribute the work out to your body so that no one part bears the burden of the load? if you trained to always distribute the load to your entire body (and into the ground), in any situation, you would only have one method to handle the load, instead of trying to figure out should i use my fingers? should i use my hand? should i use my arms? and so on. sort of a KISS approach where fewer decisions you have to make by eliminating the choices? sort of asking for a buddhism hot dog, i.e. one with everything so you don't have to select. :)


I personally believe that only muscles move the physical body. I know that sounds like a really obvious thing to say, but I want to make sure we're all on the same page. So, if you want to move the body, you'll have to use muscle. The more muscle you use to move the body, the more you will tax the system. The less muscle you use to move the body the less you tax the system.

Now there is a type of training, where we learn to only fire the useful muscles, in only the correct firing order to do the job we need them to do. This kind of training requires all non essential muscles to relax, and all essential muscles to fire in their most efficient order. This gives us maximum muscle recruitment, for only the duration needed, and keeps all muscles that don't need to work in a relaxed state. This type of training makes the smallest tax on the body possible, to achieve the best results possible.

I would call a kind of training like this very efficient, and so with the definitions I was asking about, I would then call this kind of training "internal".


good starting point. question, what is the most problematic area in human motion, like walking? what would you say the amount of energy we expend to maintain stability? how much would such expenditure in energy for stability went force applied to your body? or when you apply force to something/someone? would stability important in martial context? so back to the example of picking up the spoon. the spoon exerted a downward force (gravity) onto me. i have to deal with such force by direct it to the ground (bring the ground to the spoon) by using mental intent to create a path from the spoon to the ground through my body, say from my right fingers, the ones i used to pick up the spoon, to my left foot. you will soon realize that there are areas in your body where muscles alone isn't enough for stability. what if someone replaced the spoon with a 10kg weight? would you need to change your posture to accomodate? internal folks would say no, because the same path would still be used and the same mental intent still applied.


You believe taxing the whole system, no matter the requirement of force, is a good idea?


i wouldn't use the word taxing, but more as outsourcing the workload. please tell me your understanding if the "ground path" concept?


Or are you saying that more muscular recruitment doesn't tax the body more?

Or, are you saying that there are ways to move the body that doesn't require muscle?


your body isn't just muscle and bone. it's an ugly bag of mostly water. :)
when i looked at a human body, i see a composite bow of various materials, binded in sinews and skins. have you thought about kokyu rokyu or breath power? why breath power? why not muscle power? or bone power? why breath? besides some of us could use a mint now and then.

HL1978
01-23-2013, 09:40 PM
Hunter, I think good athletics strongly encourage training in all of the above things listed. I don't think working with this is outside of any professional athletes knowledge.

As far as "external" martial arts go, I'm not sure I've studied any, maybe Kendo? When I studied Kendo, I would say most all of those things were discussed. In Subwrestling, BJJ, Aikido, MMA, Muay thai, Wing Chun, and any other art I've studied, I can think of people talking about these things.

As far as I know of "internal" arts I've studied- Those things are all important as well.

I have never studied any physical activity that didn't address the things on the list.

Well, I'm not saying that the topics of:

hip usage
relaxation
using ones own weight
waist usage
the role of breath
the opponents weight/mass

are unique to internal martial arts and not addressed in external martial arts approaches.

Far from it, but the approach to how these are used are different. Take relaxation, most arts talk about it saying tension is bad, but my experience even with hachidan level instructors in various arts in seminars for teachers of those arts, provide little detail on how to use relaxation to train the body in the manner exposed by IS/IMA instructors (I've addressed this elsewhere, where I was told that such things were explicitly wrong, or that such levels of power were no longer needed or relevant....). Sure, my BJJ coach talked about relaxing to make yourself heavy, but then he didn't say how you could use that to connect your limbs to your center. I agree with much of Kevin Leavitt's comments posted later in the thread on this subject.

I would be more than happy to explore each of these subjects in a different thread as to how the approaches differ, but I will say this much, and I don't think its unique in my martial arts career. The above topics were addressed by external martial arts teachers to some degree, but never to the explicit degree I've experienced with some IS focused teachers, nor was the waza explained in such a way that working on the above principles was indicated to be the purpose of the waza. As I became little more experienced in working on IS, I could see that in fact, most of the high level teachers I had met had little understanding of this material other than understanding how to use the hips(but not initiating from the middle) which led to some rather amusing results as I have detailed in other threads.

As for kendo, despite my 16 years in an art that claims to be applying the principles of the sword, it has become something else entirely. Iaido is probably a better initial art to explore IS principles.

HL1978
01-23-2013, 09:54 PM
good starting point. question, what is the most problematic area in human motion, like walking? what would you say the amount of energy we expend to maintain stability? how much would such expenditure in energy for stability went force applied to your body? or when you apply force to something/someone? would stability important in martial context? so back to the example of picking up the spoon. the spoon exerted a downward force (gravity) onto me. i have to deal with such force by direct it to the ground (bring the ground to the spoon) by using mental intent to create a path from the spoon to the ground through my body, say from my right fingers, the ones i used to pick up the spoon, to my left foot. you will soon realize that there are areas in your body where muscles alone isn't enough for stability. what if someone replaced the spoon with a 10kg weight? would you need to change your posture to accomodate? internal folks would say no, because the same path would still be used and the same mental intent still applied.



I think Phi raises a good point here, which hopefully helps differentiate between the concept of efficiency between internal and external and what the goal of principle based training is.

HL1978
01-23-2013, 10:08 PM
Hunter, good stuff I really like the way you explain these concepts in your previous post! Thanks.

Just some thoughts....

As you know, I am a proponent of the "IS" methodologies and have found value...so I do want to make that clear to folks out there. I don't find the over simplification of methodologies or fundamentalist discussion (external vs internal) helful though. You have a good way of explaining this stuff.

Lots of good points brought up by many...someone said earlier about martial focus/intent. That is the basis of my concern for doing this stuff...whatever I do in budo so I suppose that should be clear to. I don't do it for the sake of doing it or because I am fascinated by a one inch punch. For me it is about efficiency.

Sometimes efficiency can be expediency. Which I suppose is why I stated "it doesn't matter how you move 200 lbs as long as you do it." I suppose you need to caveat this further and say "do it in a matter that is acceptable". or "do it in a manner that accomplishes your goal."

As Chris has clarified. We have to have a baseline or a goal in order to really have a discussion about efficiency, effectiveness, or appropriateness. I think that is really the sticking point on why it is so hard for us to agree on much here on aikiweb. We all have different perspectives on why we do what we do.

So, when I meet up with an "IS guru" I am simply evaluating how what he is showing me will improve what I do martially? how does it fit in my kit bag?

Phi talks alot about his goals with old age and treachery and yeah I agree with that. I think as I get older I find that continuing to refine my practice and finding different ways to do things that are more efficient extend my ability to be relevant.

I don't fear getting old, I fear losing relevancy so hanging onto that is important to me!

Personally I don't think you HAVE to. I think we do. I think we do this in training because it is so damn hard to get folks to learn the principles that we end up using techniques to provide a frame work for principles. Folks simply can't get principles and it is a struggle to communicate it to them so we have to develop constructs and frameworks for them to learn. The IS exercises are frameworks designed to teach the principles. What I like about them is they don't pretend to be martial techniques thus they tend to focus on developing the principles and I think they tend to confuse folks less about what is really going on. Of course, as we have seen in most practices like Tai Chi and Ba Gau, much gets lots and dies in methodology without good teachers that understand how to teach correctly.

Martial Waza I think makes it more complicated cause we are also trying to teach "martial effectiveness" at the same time, thus back to what Phi is saying....the Young can use speed and strength and get by just fine. Old guys like us...well we need to find some new tools.

However, I want to clarify that for me, this has nothing to do with "good" or "bad" nor do I think you can say that speed and muscle strength is less efficient than internal strength. It is not that simple martially speaking. For a 18 year old, IMO, his speed, agility, and muscular strength is quite possibly the best and most efficient and economical use available to accomplish a goal.

The conversation concerning what basically constitutes a hierarchy of from best to worst in use of something is illogical. Its like saying a Nuke is more efficient than a AR-15, that is more efficient than a knife, that is more efficient than your fist. It simply depends on your goal and endstates.

I lament on this very thing all the time with my BJJ students. White and Blue belts spend most of their time learning techniques that are independent. I have in my curriculum I think close to 1000 videos that we teach over a period of a couple of years to develop the framework they need to be martially successful in BJJ. In about 3 or 4 months the White Belts have enough tools in their tool box to defeat new white belts and blue belts can defeat all white belts and some blue belts, but not higher belts. This goes on for about 2 to 3 years...then I'd say 80% of them quit.

Why? My hypothesis is that they learn all the independent techniques but cannot take the next step which is synthesis. You simply cannot get better by continuing to have one specific movement for a particular situation. You must abandon the techniques and begin to do things differently. At the purple belt level it should start to become what I would equate to free form jazz. You simply have to begin to understand the principles behind the techniques in order to move to the next levels.

These principles are universal. I also believe that given the goal and context of training that you will tend to gravitate to efficiency towards that goal. Baseball pitchers will do it. Boxers will do it etc. They will advance far enough to where they achieve success. There is no reason to advance any further. However, if you don't really have a goal in mind, I would think you would tend to be all over the place in what you are doing and studying....like no real endstate of focus per say. That would make me very grumpy personally.

So I find the debates that attempt to say that professional athletes use IS/IP or they don't pointless. I think they use what works for what they are doing and to try and establish a dichotomy or a percentage of what they do or don't do futile.

Of course, we are learning things all the time and I do have hope that many of the methods many of us are experimenting with and apparently getting better at understanding and transmitting encouraging and I do positively believe that humans will continue to push the boundaries of efficiency to exploit things that are exploitable.

I hope some of this makes sense and is relevant!

So, if I get with Hunter and I place a condition or constraint on him and then he can show me how to defeat it or move in a "efficient/effective" way...then naturally I am gonna say..."hey Hunter, how'd you do that?" Then Hunter says, "well I do x,y,z". If I can't do that, maybe he says..."well its because you haven't developed "a,b,c". and then I say "Well how do I develop a,b,c?" and Hunter says, "by doing d,e,f?"

Well I think that is a productive conversation and one that matters.

All the other conversation about what Johnny is doing is external and what Don is doing is internal means jack squat. Same with the conversations about what O'sensei did or didn't do. Sure it is entertaining, but the guy is dead and can't really do much for me, but then again I tend to be a realist so I do have that bias.

Back to my original comment earlier in the thread. I simply meant to say that I don't find the over simplification of internal versus external helpful in explaining anything. In short I think if you have goals and end states for what you are doing, then you can seek out methodologies that are helpful in achieving those goals. I think the biggest problem many martial artist face is they don't really have a good understanding of them thus the flounder with various methodologies in an attempt to latch on to something.

When I have been with the various "IS gurus" I have walked away with a tremendous amount of respect and found meaning and application in what they taught me. I have found all of them to be generous. I have found them to be VERY effective at teaching the concepts I came to aikido to learn, but did not. Maybe it was the failure of my teachers, maybe it was my failure to learn, maybe I was not ready or worthy at the time. Who knows!

Anyway, I have found none of them to be a waste of time...not like some of the wack-a-doos I encountered 20 years ago doing no touch ki throws, or pressure point knock outs.

The biggest problem I have is "relative value". That is, what do you spend your time on in training. It boils down to priorities and time. Do I spend time with my kids and family? my profession? Time doing BJJ drills and coaching to develop my organization? or do I spend time doing IS exercises? what are the trade offs and what will give me the best gains for my time spent with what I have time to do?

In the end it all boils down to efficiency and effectivenss...however, that will mean different things on different days.

Guys, my only advice to anyone is...have an open mind and drop the fundamentalist "one right answer", find the holy grail...over analytical thinking and get on with life and enjoy the ride.

I like Phi's attitude to life...he always makes me smile when I read his post. His internal strength is strong! or maybe it is the Kim Chi I don't know.

Kevin, I think you raised a number of excellent points here, applicable both to IS and martial arts in general. Much of it certainly mirrors my experiences.

ChrisHein
01-23-2013, 10:54 PM
what about distributed power system point of view? as in distribute the work out to your body so that no one part bears the burden of the load? if you trained to always distribute the load to your entire body (and into the ground), in any situation, you would only have one method to handle the load, instead of trying to figure out should i use my fingers? should i use my hand? should i use my arms?

I think distribution of force and work load is a great idea. When I generate a strike, I start at the ground, and create a chain link of firing muscles all the way out to the limb that the force is coming out. When I receive force, I align my body, so the force goes into the ground. When we are talking about making large amounts of force (hitting hard, explosive lifting or stabilizing incoming large force) distributing that work over several muscle groups is a good idea. however, each muscle group that fires requires energy (taxes) the body. So if I'm doing something that one muscle group can easily handle (lifting our spoon) it's not a good idea to use every muscle group to do that, because you'll use more energy. When lifting small things it's less taxing to use isolate muscle groups.

so back to the example of picking up the spoon. the spoon exerted a downward force (gravity) onto me. i have to deal with such force by direct it to the ground (bring the ground to the spoon) by using mental intent to create a path from the spoon to the ground through my body, say from my right fingers, the ones i used to pick up the spoon, to my left foot. you will soon realize that there are areas in your body where muscles alone isn't enough for stability. what if someone replaced the spoon with a 10kg weight? would you need to change your posture to accomodate? internal folks would say no, because the same path would still be used and the same mental intent still applied.

There are some complex things going on here. First, there are natural alignments. For example, when you stand with good posture, you have a very natural alignment to resisting force coming down on you. You can use very little muscular force in order to resist large amounts of downward force. However if you have your arm out to your side, holding something, it is very difficult to make a natural alignment. This requires huge amounts of shoulder strength, because the position isolates the shoulder joint. In other words from this position it's very difficult to make "ground path". There are ways you can move, in order to better use natural alignment and use "ground path" to help support the weight, but from that position (arm reached out to your side), you cannot easily make ground path, you have to use lots of force in the shoulder muscles.

Do you agree or disagree with this?



i wouldn't use the word taxing, but more as outsourcing the workload. please tell me your understanding if the "ground path" concept?


The reason I used the word "taxing" is because in order to use more muscle, you'll have to use more energy. If you change alignment you can use less energy, I agree, but that doesn't mean you can be stable from every position at all times, you must align into the direction you want to receive force.

Do you agree or disagree that you must use specific alignments to receive force? Or do you believe that you can receive force in any direction from any alignment if you know "IP"?


your body isn't just muscle and bone. it's an ugly bag of mostly water. :)
when i looked at a human body, i see a composite bow of various materials, binded in sinews and skins. have you thought about kokyu rokyu or breath power? why breath power? why not muscle power? or bone power? why breath? besides some of us could use a mint now and then.

I do believe internal pressures are useful (I think that's what you are getting at). Weight lifters use internal pressure to stabilize the body quite a bit. However it is muscles inside of the core that are used to make the pressure. Without muscles you couldn't make internal pressure, this naturally requires energy from the body. These pressures, I believe are most usefully limited to the core of the body as well.

Do you agree or disagree?

Kevin Leavitt
01-24-2013, 05:26 AM
Hunter wrote:

Sure, my BJJ coach talked about relaxing to make yourself heavy, but then he didn't say how you could use that to connect your limbs to your center. I agree with much of Kevin Leavitt's comments posted later in the thread on this subject.

Something that was hard for me to grasp for a long time, but I am pretty decent with being heavy and using my weight correctly. My guys have a hard time with weight distribution and learning how to actively use it. Relaxing is not about being limp as you discussed above, there is active tension and active pressure being exerted where you want it. Put it in the wrong place you get a bad result. Get it in the right place and it feels like a ton of bricks laying on you. It actually feels like 3 or 4 times your actual weight. However, if you simply go limp and use dead weight, it doesn't work.

Again, not saying this in IS skills at work or anything, again, I am not about caring what IS is or isn't...but your comments on this hit home and is related since I can't seem to teach guys how to use their weight, pressure and relaxation correctly!

Kevin Leavitt
01-24-2013, 06:13 AM
Chris wrote:

So if I'm doing something that one muscle group can easily handle (lifting our spoon) it's not a good idea to use every muscle group to do that, because you'll use more energy. When lifting small things it's less taxing to use isolate muscle groups.

I would agree. A few years ago I worked with Paulinna L with some of her Alexander Technique stuff. She coached me through standing up from a seated position from a chair. Found out in the simple act of standing up, there was much I was doing wrong. I worked on it based on what I was able to get out of our short time together and corrected some minor things which required that I made a concerted effort to change some habits that were causing me some back pain.

Before this, I was moving in the most efficient manner I new how to based on habits, perceptions, proprioceptions, and physicality that had developed. I think it was you Chris that mentioned Tim Cartmel commenting on a small child and his posture right?

Well, lifting a spoon is seemingly a simple act in which for most does not require much thought or concern about what muscle groups, neurons, structure etc we should use. However, I do think that we develop efficiencies on our own that while they may be efficient within a particular context, they may have unintended results in others areas. Such as developing habits or coping mechanisms that turn into physical constraints due to atrophy, neural pathway development etc. So I think it is simple to say that we naturally use the correct structures and efficiency when lifting a spoon...I am not so sure it happens all the time.

Once we learn things, we establish a baseline for ourselves that we cannot break easily. In fact, it can seem down right WRONG as our mind is telling us not to do it cause it is wrong.

So I think efficiency and effectiveness can be a slippery subject for sure. I have found it is hard work to re-wire things as you are working against your baseline. However, once you cross the threshold then we can go back to simply having intent and not give conscious thought to employing the new habits....which then become our new baseline and our new efficiency in doing something...maybe as simply as lifting a spoon.

Going back to the example of a young agile athlete. Again, it may indeed be most efficient for him to use speed and agility and he can compensate for things that may hurt him down the road. However, someday, he will zig when he meant to zag and BAM there goes that knee. He will then have to go through a process of re-wiring to figure out his new baseline and efficiency.

Again, I personally think we spend too much time on trying to quantify exactly what is going on versus simply assessing the methodologies and their effectiveness in getting us to do the things we want to do.

Chris, I think you are spot on in your assessment/measures in establishing goals and endstates as a measuring stick. I have learned though that this is a tricky business when looking at assessment/goals/end states.

Dealing with two serious orthopeadic injuries in a 9 month period due has made me look hard at my martial mortality. I have had a AC joint blown apart from a Sambo player that is now held together with fiber wire and now dealing with a knee that has a torn LCL, PCL, and a torn popliteal muscle. I ain't what I was a year ago. However, with my injuries I have managed to stay on the mat and have been working hard to find new ways of moving, protecting my body, and finding strength. I'll never be a world champion, nor will any of this training do very much to help me overcome the 25 year old's agility and strength on the mat.

However, if I can strengthen my weak psoas muscles and structure from years of misuse and abuse and I can learn to move by engaging them first, then I can transition to my leg when standing without having to put a heavy load on it by leaning forward with my upper body. Maybe it will last a few years longer. When I was younger, I didn't need to be concerned with that. These days I do.

To be honest, 6 months ago, lifting a spoon to eat with my shoulder was impossible so yeah...I became very aware of how to isolate out even more structure that I used to do that habitually cause before then, it simply didn't matter cause I had so much "over power". However, once that was very limited, I had to get even more efficient.

I need to be able to do 25 push ups to pass my PT test. I am up to 15 right now. I have to re-wire doing push ups so as not to put undo stress on my shoulder group. I am telling you it is not fun. I am a guy that used to be able to do 75 in 2 minutes without thinking about it. Now I have to work hard and re-wire to become more efficient and use different structures.

I still stand by my comments that it doesn't matter how you move a 200lb weight as long as you move it and it accomplishes your goal. I think we tend to get too concerned in the community about how we do it and never bother to pick it up and move it figuratively. However, of course, you can pick it up "wrong" and damage your back, over time repetitive stress can cause problems etc.

So yeah, on one hand, sure, doesn't matter how. On the other hand...it does matter...at some point!

I was watching the Crossfit Games a few weeks ago. Amazing feats of strength and conditioning! Some of these athletes were doing some crazy things to do what they were doing. Some doing them with good structure, some with bad...you could see the knee injury waiting to happen.

However, it didn't happen, so it worked for them. Maybe someday it won't work for them and they will then have to re-wire. The point is they are winning medals and accomplishing their goals. If they got caught up in "right way" and said, "well I am not going to compete or lift heavy weights until I can do it a certain way." Then they may not be called "winner" or "champion" and they will have to be content at a small local gym washing towels and scoffing at the "bad form" folks are using in the crossfit games on the internet! So IMO...it is what it is and life goes on.

So, I think that at some level we need to consider "lifting the spoon"...but we cannot do it at the expense of starving ourselves if we don't feel we are not doing it right.

However, do we lift the spoon to our mouth? Do we lift it half way and then crane our neck downward to meet it? What is really going on with it? Is it hurting us in someway to do that? Is it an indicator of deeper issue?

Sure it is worth considering IMO...but again, not to the point of not sitting at the table and eating until we do it correctly.

phitruong
01-24-2013, 07:35 AM
I think distribution of force and work load is a great idea. When I generate a strike, I start at the ground, and create a chain link of firing muscles all the way out to the limb that the force is coming out. When I receive force, I align my body, so the force goes into the ground. When we are talking about making large amounts of force (hitting hard, explosive lifting or stabilizing incoming large force) distributing that work over several muscle groups is a good idea. however, each muscle group that fires requires energy (taxes) the body. So if I'm doing something that one muscle group can easily handle (lifting our spoon) it's not a good idea to use every muscle group to do that, because you'll use more energy. When lifting small things it's less taxing to use isolate muscle groups.


first, the chain link thing implies a disconnect which in many way a no-no for internal, because it violates the principle of "one moves, all move". think of a composite bow, there is no chain link in that. sure, in the begining, you use alot more energy, but as part of internal training, overtime you wouldn't use as much. just as Kevin mentioned about baseline efficiency.


There are some complex things going on here. First, there are natural alignments. For example, when you stand with good posture, you have a very natural alignment to resisting force coming down on you. You can use very little muscular force in order to resist large amounts of downward force. However if you have your arm out to your side, holding something, it is very difficult to make a natural alignment. This requires huge amounts of shoulder strength, because the position isolates the shoulder joint. In other words from this position it's very difficult to make "ground path". There are ways you can move, in order to better use natural alignment and use "ground path" to help support the weight, but from that position (arm reached out to your side), you cannot easily make ground path, you have to use lots of force in the shoulder muscles.

Do you agree or disagree with this?


i know you want to hear this, but yes and no. no, it's not optimal, but yes, the one of the internal training principle is to deal with this. there is an SJT which goes "jin does not depend on structure".
Sigman has a video somewhere about this. i believed Forrest also had a video about this somewhere (methink), if you asked him nicely. better yet, go play with him, since he's not too far from you, where he can demonstrate it in person. your mental intent would force your body to microscopically recruit the right muscle and others to allow the ground path happen. this is one of the reason why internal folks mentioned that internal training tax the brain more than the body (actually taxing the body too). so the question is why would you want to do that? answer, in a martial situation, you don't always be in an advantage/optimal position. so we train for the worst case scenario, with the idea, that if you can deal with worst case scenario, then other stuffs would be a piece of pie (i am a pie person so go get your own cake and leave me to my pie!).

i have seen Ikeda sensei demonstrate where his arm was extended behind him, his back to his uke, touching uke's fist lightly, and proceed to break his balance.


The reason I used the word "taxing" is because in order to use more muscle, you'll have to use more energy. If you change alignment you can use less energy, I agree, but that doesn't mean you can be stable from every position at all times, you must align into the direction you want to receive force.

Do you agree or disagree that you must use specific alignments to receive force? Or do you believe that you can receive force in any direction from any alignment if you know "IP"?


see my answer above. Howie, one time, demonstrated this with him bending over backward (ya, he has a thing for me, don't tell his wife though :D ) and me pushing down on his upper body. he didn't fall over and proceed to straighten back up to stranding posture, all the while i was pushing on his upper body. in an unpredictable martial situation, you can't always align yourself in an optimal position. if that's the case, then what would you do? roll over and die? take BJJ for example, you most definitely won't be in advantage position or be able to align yourself into a favorable position all the time, so what would you do then?


I do believe internal pressures are useful (I think that's what you are getting at). Weight lifters use internal pressure to stabilize the body quite a bit. However it is muscles inside of the core that are used to make the pressure. Without muscles you couldn't make internal pressure, this naturally requires energy from the body. These pressures, I believe are most usefully limited to the core of the body as well.

Do you agree or disagree?

again, yes and no. you will need muscle but in which way. take for example, a person punch you in the stomach, do you contracted your stomach muscles to deal with the punch or you expand your stomach? when i was doing karate, i contracted; now when i am doing internal, i expand. my sons hit me all the time, randomly. it's a game we play to see when the old man dropped his guard. i can't contracted my muscles all the time, but i can expand most of the time.

might want to read up on the "suit" concept from Sigman's blog. take a big yoga ball and push it and contemplate why it can absorb and direct your energy. why? our muscle deterioate over time, we need to use other stuffs to aid. remember, youth and strength, and i ain't gonna roll over and die.

phitruong
01-24-2013, 07:51 AM
Again, not saying this in IS skills at work or anything, again, I am not about caring what IS is or isn't...but your comments on this hit home and is related since I can't seem to teach guys how to use their weight, pressure and relaxation correctly!

ya, this is the principle based training that you mentioned bjj low rankers can't make the jump, full body connectivity.

phitruong
01-24-2013, 08:18 AM
As for kendo, despite my 16 years in an art that claims to be applying the principles of the sword, it has become something else entirely. Iaido is probably a better initial art to explore IS principles.

but iaido folks don't like you doing that though, because you don't look good that way. and good looking while drawing the sword to cut some bugger(s) is paramount for iaido, right? remember, that we, asian, looked good naturally so you have more works cut out for you. :)

incidentally, some of the stuffs, that my iaido teacher made me do, seemed to blend in with IS stuffs nicely.

Gary David
01-24-2013, 09:10 AM
but iaido folks don't like you doing that though, because you don't look good that way. and good looking while drawing the sword to cut some bugger(s) is paramount for iaido, right? remember, that we, asian, looked good naturally so you have more works cut out for you. :)
.

Phi
Please keep in mind with us Scots it is really hard to look good pulling a 6 to 10 lb 55 inch Claymore longsword off your back while wearing a short skirt in a muddy field. Of course the blue paint helped.....
Gary

jonreading
01-24-2013, 12:07 PM
I'll weigh in on this, but don't expect too much.

As near as I can tell, we are using "internal" in at least 3 different instances that I can detect:
1. The Chinese categorical derivative, which I think has more to do with methodology. All roads lead to Rome, but path X is better.
2. As related to the efficient transfer of power. Internal strength, internal power, etc.
3. As the aikido concept of kokoro, the unification of mind and body. Move from center, etc.

As a general observation, I do not think in any of these definitions, internal is "aiki."

First, all roads lead to Rome. I think the categorical definition of internal and external are not what we want. That is not to say it is unimportant, but look at a good karate person or kung fu person and they will inevitably have some exposure to both. In my opinion, Internal and external movements are both needed in the academic process.

Second, the internal power people are doing something different. I think there is no common language and a lexicon so small it is travel-sized. Right now, the best methodology for sharing the information is physical. It has to be felt is the teaching method because these individuals are still figuring out better terminology and a better method to transmit the information. Dan Harden is doing a seminar in Atlanta in a few weeks and I hope to learn more. I reserve the right to amend what I have said. As of right now, I think what is going on is analogous to the old physics experiment of protecting a raw egg dropped from some height. The trick is to disperse the energy equally against the rounded shell, which is then an incredibly strong shape. I think the IS people use opposing energy to create spherical shapes (expanded energy in all directions) which are then able to absorb force while leaving the insides free to move and unconnected to the force. The thing that hits me most about these guys is you cannot feel where they are; they are not connected to you even though you are touching them.

Finally, the unification of our mind and body. Ikeda sensei calls it body unification. I think this is the aikido version of internal. It works like a geometric proof for circumscribed circles: if two circles are circumscribed with the same center point, a point moving on the circumference of the outer circle has to move faster than a point moving on the circumference of the inner circle. Essentially, moving from your center is the fastest way to move your hand on the outside circumference of that arc.

As I said earlier, I think none of these concepts are "aiki" as we know it. I think they are intended to make your body ready to have someone's center grafted to it.

Hope that doesn't screw things up too badly...

ChrisHein
01-24-2013, 03:24 PM
Hey Phi,

I want to talk about this more, but I think we're getting out of the scope of this thread. So I started a new one: http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=322599#post322599

See you there!