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Brian Sutton
02-21-2015, 10:43 PM
So we can't train any martial or non martial movements without the use of the bodies external musculature. Right? So is there really a separation between external and internal martial arts. Does an external art coordinate breath and mental focus?Do internal martial arts somehow not use the body. What does "internal" mean to you? Thoughts?

kewms
02-22-2015, 01:50 AM
Short, but most accurate answer: go train with someone who knows what they're doing.

Slightly longer answer: While it's true that all body movement is enabled by the muscles, mental focus matters. Bringing your right hand toward you by flexing your right bicep is different from drawing it by spiraling from the left to the right side. It will feel different to you and, more importantly, to your partner.

Katherine

Mary Eastland
02-22-2015, 03:53 PM
Internal to means to me acceptance of uke and the moment. It mean paying attention to what is. It means allowing a solution not forcing one. It means heavy or light, high or low and good pasture all around.

Rupert Atkinson
02-22-2015, 06:26 PM
Internal to me means being aware of your own balance and lines of power from feet to hands thereby keeping steady, while at the same time watching/feeling uke's and causing his own energy to disrupt his balance/movement.

Chris Li
02-23-2015, 09:17 AM
There really is no absolute divider - people argue about this kind of thing all the time. Tom Bisio has a good discussion about internal arts in this article (http://www.internalartsinternational.com/free/what-is-an-internal-art/) - note that the principal fundamentals that he cites were also cited by Morihei Ueshiba, using the same terminology and context.

Best,

Chris

Cliff Judge
02-23-2015, 09:32 AM
"take with a grain of salt"

Brian Sutton
02-23-2015, 12:42 PM
There really is no absolute divider - people argue about this kind of thing all the time. Tom Bisio has a good discussion about internal arts in this article (http://www.internalartsinternational.com/free/what-is-an-internal-art/) - note that the principal fundamentals that he cites were also cited by Morihei Ueshiba, using the same terminology and context.

Chris A nice article. Very detailed. Thanks alot.

Alec Corper
02-24-2015, 03:31 AM
I realize that the title of this thread is "What does internal mean to you"
This is an invitation for everyone to have an opinion. OK. However we can only all agree to to disagree and share our thoughts, which is fine but ultimately not all that useful.
Chris offers a very good link to someone who is an "authority" on internal arts by virtue of long practice and general peer support. What he writes gives some good clarity to how to separate external and internal arts. I have no idea wether he can do what he talks about. I suspect he can do something from what I have seen, and without revisiting the endless IHTBF arguments, I can't know if he is an excellent theorist only or also an accomplished practitioner. Worse still my references may be so limited that the first person I meet who can do something unusual becomes my gold standard and I may even believe that I now know what "internal" means. Meet a few more people who can do unusual stuff and you begin to see they share some qualities and not others. You will meet some who have some IP but no fighting skills, you may even meet fighters with some unusual level of skill but no IP.
Will our aikido community ever be able to talk about these matters with some common references that are both theoretical and experiential? If not this is all just keyboard magic.
Find a way to meet and feel Akuzawa, Dan, or Sam Chin. Check out a few Chinese IMA specialists, figure out if you have a goal beyond mastering waza and then performing them harder and faster with programmed ukes. Touch hands with people who can disrupt your balance at a touch, absorb your energy and send it back, strike with no visible wind up, can take strikes without absorbing them, etc.
There are people out there who will help you see that internal training is not a matter of opinions, any more than brain surgery is, but rather of a deep understanding of the subtle interconnections between mind and body and a reworking and rewiring of preprogrammed ways of using the body when meeting and handling force.
On a recent trip to Japan I talked to an 84 year old aikido man who trained with Ueshiba for 10 years way back when. I showed him some of the things I have learnt in the last 7 years of training with some of the people who can do this stuff for real. Even with ny poor effort and poor level of skill in these realms he quite literally said, " it is good to see someone pursuing O Sensei's Aikido".
Hats off to Chris and Dan for trying to offer an alternative view of aikido as an internal art. Now, if only we could agree what internal means, hmmm........ As I enter 24 years of aikido training and almost 40 in MA I can't help but wonder where I would be if I had started there instead of "external"

All misunderstandings are my own.

Brian Sutton
02-24-2015, 10:28 AM
When posting this thread, it was not my intention to cause confusion or get anyone's goat. I have felt waza shoot right into my bones where I couldnt stop it if I wanted to, and iv'e also felt waza feel like i'm being jerked down the stairs, feeling it in my muscles and I could counter it. I know what moving from my center feels like on the giving end as well. I have used alot T'ai Ji Jings on the mat and its very powerful , also feels quite a bit different for uke. A Aikido throw or T'ai Ji push done right, while very powerful, has a strange and interesting feel to it. In all cases when I have given and received internal strength, the body is used in a very refined and specific way, to harness the mass and momentum of larger muscle groups into the sudden release of whatever part of the body that is doing the technique. The body is still being used, just in a very sophisticated manner.
I guess why I am posting this thread is because their are some things that we talk about but never really talk about. Also , it never hurts to learn about what you know. That is usually the case with the good stuff. Just sayin.

Mary Eastland
02-24-2015, 10:35 AM
By saying "Just saying" one can tell where you are coming from. Are seminars getting slow?

Internal can mean different things to different people and it nice to be able to express what it means to each individual. Maybe we could keep the thread going without it becoming an infomercial.

Chris Li
02-24-2015, 11:17 AM
By saying "Just saying" one can tell where you are coming from. Are seminars getting slow?

Internal can mean different things to different people and it nice to be able to express what it means to each individual. Maybe we could keep the thread going without it becoming an infomercial.

But then why are you the only one on this thread criticizing folks for expressing what it means to them?

Best,

Chris

Alec Corper
02-24-2015, 11:40 AM
Mary, I don't know if what you wrote was addressed to me as well. What I posted was most certainly not an infomercial. I do not train with Dan or Chris. With respect, I have trained martial arts for almost 40 years and aikido for 24. I have trained with some of O Sensei's direct deshi and trained in Japan many times. I have also trained with many of the top Shihan of our generation. Aikido is an internal art but has lost the core of it's teaching. Before you or someone else says, "well maybe your aikido has but not mine", or something equally trite, I am not invested in proving myself right or anyone else wrong. My understanding of "internal" is very similar to hat Tom Biso wrote. Show me an aikido teacher who can both explain it and do it. I believe Ikeda Sensei was maybe getting close but I have not felt him for many years. Strange that he is now independent, no?
My last aikido teacher, Kato Shihan, was a marvelous aikido man, the closest thing to O Sensei that I have seen and felt. When I met his Sempai he echoed O Sensei's attributed words, " that's not my aikido", in relation to modern practice.
Anyway I mean no one any disrespect but I simply do not agree that we must have Alice in Wonderland definitions where a word means what I think it means. That makes a mockery of any degree of expertise or higher level of understanding. It also leads to a waste of time discussing anything since we can all remain exactly where we are and feel good about it.

Brian Sutton
02-24-2015, 11:50 AM
Hi folks. Please adhere to aiki web forum rules below.
Meanwhile, I look into what wording I may have used to warrant the response my thread received . My intention was for meaningful discussion. Take care..

allowedcloud
02-24-2015, 02:04 PM
Hi folks. Please adhere to aiki web forum rules below.
Meanwhile, I look into what wording I may have used to warrant the response my thread received . My intention was for meaningful discussion. Take care..

You have done nothing wrong. "Internal" is a pretty hot topic around these parts, so you have people contribute that do not add to the discussion and are just reacting to trigger words.

For what it's worth I think whether an art is internal and external depends on how it is taught to you. For example if you are learning from an Aikido teacher that doesn't teach the internals, what you are learning is an external art. Same with taiji etc. And that is fine as long as what you're learning has meaning to you.

phitruong
02-25-2015, 09:30 AM
For what it's worth I think whether an art is internal and external depends on how it is taught to you. For example if you are learning from an Aikido teacher that doesn't teach the internals, what you are learning is an external art. Same with taiji etc. And that is fine as long as what you're learning has meaning to you.

there lies the problem. if a teacher, who knows nothing about internal and couldn't exhibit it, but good at external, tells his/her students that what they are learning is internal, is all about that ki (queue up the song "all about the bass") . the students would believe it and thus, we usually have ki/aiki/IS wars on aikiweb and elsewhere.

Cliff Judge
02-25-2015, 10:08 AM
there lies the problem. if a teacher, who knows nothing about internal and couldn't exhibit it, but good at external, tells his/her students that what they are learning is internal, is all about that ki (queue up the song "all about the bass") . the students would believe it and thus, we usually have ki/aiki/IS wars on aikiweb and elsewhere.

To say nothing of the teachers who know all kinds of stuff about internals and exhibit it but don't teach it. Or the teachers who exhibit internals but don't know anything about it. Or teachers who teach internals but can't exhibit it.

Or the teachers who exhibit internals and may or may not know anything about it, but teach something which may not be the best way for students to learn it.

Or the teachers who know, exhibit, and teach internals, but cannot abide other teachers who know and exhibit internals but teach in a different way, and insist the other teachers know nothing, which leaves students who may or may not have any idea what they are feeling or what they are doing confused as to what the whole thing is about.

kewms
02-25-2015, 10:46 AM
Many of the examples of teacher-induced confusion can be helped, I think, by training with as many different teachers as possible. Go to seminars, both inside and outside of your own style. Visit other dojos when you travel, visit some of the teachers who post here.

Not all teachers are okay with students who do this. Which is a separate issue but does provide useful information about the teacher in question.

Katherine

Cliff Judge
02-25-2015, 11:47 AM
Many of the examples of teacher-induced confusion can be helped, I think, by training with as many different teachers as possible. Go to seminars, both inside and outside of your own style. Visit other dojos when you travel, visit some of the teachers who post here.

Not all teachers are okay with students who do this. Which is a separate issue but does provide useful information about the teacher in question.

Katherine

Be careful, you could simply wind up exponentiating your confusion by the number of teachers you train with. Caveat emptor.

phitruong
02-25-2015, 12:00 PM
Be careful, you could simply wind up exponentiating your confusion by the number of teachers you train with. Caveat emptor.

Thusly, i offer my internal expertise service for $10.99, limited time offer. i will tell you everything you need to know about internal. satisfaction guarantee. if i am not satisfy, then i will return your money in full, less misc fees. :D

Rupert Atkinson
02-25-2015, 03:22 PM
I studied shiatsu for a couple of years way back when I was young and was into Chinese philosophy and all that ya da ya da ya. Had a mind to later move to acupuncture etc. My teacher was/still is well known in that field. Then I went on a seminar with a different group. Their philosophy - their explanation of things ... was different. Major rethink - reset required. Then it hit me - how did I know that what I had been taught was relevant? So I quit. Now, while I know that acupuncture/acupressure can work and can produce some good results, what irked me then and irks me now is that no one can explain it logically. But - the essence of the human mind is that we want to explain it ... so we come up with all sorts of ludicrous theories and believe them. It is no different in Aikido. I eventually became a teacher (high school/uni) and for me everything must have a logical explanation, even if we do not know what it is. In that case it just sits in my 'unknown box'. Our job is to search - so I wrote my book with that in mind. Through many emails I have found that some love it, some hate it. Typically, if it matches their thought process they love it, if not they hate it. In both cases, it is reactionary, not logical. People need to wake up. In my opinion, we will not learn anything internal unless we start to think and train logically.

What's the sound of one hand clapping? It's a slap in the face to wake you up. © rmja

kewms
02-25-2015, 03:35 PM
Be careful, you could simply wind up exponentiating your confusion by the number of teachers you train with. Caveat emptor.

In my experience, it's the opposite. More teachers lets me see the common threads in the physical practice, which may or may not be present in the words used to describe it.

Katherine

Janet Rosen
02-25-2015, 04:35 PM
Now, while I know that acupuncture/acupressure can work and can produce some good results, what irked me then and irks me now is that no one can explain it logically.

Sure it can be explained logically WITHIN THE CONTEXT of the classical Chinese conception of the human being. Again I have to recommend this book,The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine (http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/expressiveness-body-and-divergence-greek-and-chinese-medicine) by Shigehisa Kuriyama.

RonRagusa
02-25-2015, 04:46 PM
What does "internal" mean to you? Thoughts?

My view on "internal" has more to do with how the art is learned and made manifest in an individual's practice rather than a method of classification that pronounces this or that martial art is internal while those are external. When I first began my training, Aikido was exclusively taught to me, coming, as it were, from outside sources in the form of "see this now do it." Gradually, as years passed and turned into decades, I noticed that I continued to learn and discover Aikido even though I no longer had a "teacher" whose job it was to lead me in my development.

This revelation awakened me to the fact that learning Aikido (and probably most any other endeavor requiring ongoing study in the quest for mastery) eventually turns itself inside out and becomes an emergent form of study. I'm learning from the inside out and the exercises, waza and other forms of physical practice are expressions of my ongoing progress and transformation (learning) while simultaneously enabling me to refine my knowledge via the feedback provided as a result of practice.

Ron

Erick Mead
02-25-2015, 10:18 PM
When I first began my training, Aikido was exclusively taught to me, coming, as it were, from outside sources in the form of "see this now do it." Gradually, as years passed and turned into decades, I noticed that I continued to learn and discover Aikido even though I no longer had a "teacher" whose job it was to lead me in my development.

This revelation awakened me to the fact that learning Aikido (and probably most any other endeavor requiring ongoing study in the quest for mastery) eventually turns itself inside out and becomes an emergent form of study. I'm learning from the inside out and the exercises, waza and other forms of physical practice are expressions of my ongoing progress and transformation (learning) while simultaneously enabling me to refine my knowledge via the feedback provided as a result of practice.

This.

I find that Aikido trains action of certain reflexive structural behaviors of the body, and targets these in others. The language of the traditions necessarily speaks of actions in terms that are difficult because these actions occur in pathways and in timings that are difficult to nail down into direct causes and effects. In fact, the mismatch in timing of unconscious action versus awareness and conscious reaction, often seems to confound normal assumptions of causes and effects. Thus, the belief arises that the musculature did not cause the action, because the voluntary musculature seems to be lagging what has already happened with the musculature reflexively before you were even aware of it.

Once this " turns inside out" ( a wonderful way of phrasing it) then we can begin to shape our reflexive action, like a surfer carves his own path on a wave even though he can never control the shape and path of the wave directly. Internal study and training is learning the wave -- not just shredding skills.

Keith Larman
02-25-2015, 10:31 PM
Be careful, you could simply wind up exponentiating your confusion by the number of teachers you train with. Caveat emptor.

Or if you stay with one or refuse to expand your horizons, you may also be simply sealing off your personal echo chamber, ensuring a completely internally consistent world view with nothing to ever challenge your assumptions. Sure, newbs need a teacher, usually a single one. Not so newbs? Well, sometimes it's good to pull on those loose threads and see what unravels...

Just riffing on the metaphors...

Cliff Judge
02-26-2015, 05:59 AM
After a long winter bud
Pink petals flutter
Didn't stay long on the branch.

SeiserL
02-26-2015, 07:40 AM
IMHO, its about what parts of my body/mind I use the connect and affect what part of your body.
I tend to think of "external" being more muscle and force coordinated with aggression.
I tend to think of "internal" being more structure/alignment subtle movement coordinated with mental intent and breathing.
Just trying to find a useful distinction to know/feel the difference.
My training in "internal" is still very elementary.

Mary Eastland
02-26-2015, 09:04 AM
Internal:
Changing what you can: you
Accepting and blending with what you can't change: others

Seeking a common center through your center and theirs.

External: forcing solutions, putting your will on others, making an other do what you want them to do
Using muscle and superior strength and size.

RonRagusa
02-26-2015, 03:22 PM
I find that Aikido trains action of certain reflexive structural behaviors of the body, and targets these in others. The language of the traditions necessarily speaks of actions in terms that are difficult because these actions occur in pathways and in timings that are difficult to nail down into direct causes and effects. In fact, the mismatch in timing of unconscious action versus awareness and conscious reaction, often seems to confound normal assumptions of causes and effects. Thus, the belief arises that the musculature did not cause the action, because the voluntary musculature seems to be lagging what has already happened with the musculature reflexively before you were even aware of it.

Coordination of mind (internal) and body (external) narrows the difference between "unconscious action versus awareness and conscious reaction" as close to zero as possible. Or, as Mary E. put it in an earlier post; "...acceptance of uke and the moment...paying attention to what is...allowing a solution not forcing one."

...we can begin to shape our reflexive action, like a surfer carves his own path on a wave even though he can never control the shape and path of the wave directly.

A nice metaphor of nage simultaneously leading/following uke.

Ron

mathewjgano
02-26-2015, 05:28 PM
So we can't train any martial or non martial movements without the use of the bodies external musculature. Right? So is there really a separation between external and internal martial arts. Does an external art coordinate breath and mental focus?Do internal martial arts somehow not use the body. What does "internal" mean to you? Thoughts?

To my ignorant mind, "internal," denotes greater ostensible focus on whole-body/mind integration. A rose by any other name smells just as beautiful, though.

Erick Mead
02-26-2015, 05:31 PM
Coordination of mind (internal) and body (external) narrows the difference between "unconscious action versus awareness and conscious reaction" as close to zero as possible. The point is really more profound than that ... or in the terms of difference -- zero is not the lower bound of the physiological difference between "unconscious action versus awareness and conscious reaction." It can and does go negative. That creates "spooky" cause and effect perception because of the temporal mismatch in reflex action, perception and voluntary action

Conscious action has a latency barrier (perception to action delay) at ~100 ms -- the limit of highly trained pattern responses, like the best punching. Ordinary voluntary action is at about 300 ms latency. Reflexes have a latency far less. Reflexive action confounds these things, because the voluntary action latency lags the reflexive actions which change the foundation on which the voluntary action was based. (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=338864&postcount=168)

There is more here (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=317712&postcount=91).

RonRagusa
02-27-2015, 10:52 PM
The point is really more profound than that ... or in the terms of difference -- zero is not the lower bound of the physiological difference between "unconscious action versus awareness and conscious reaction." It can and does go negative. That creates "spooky" cause and effect perception because of the temporal mismatch in reflex action, perception and voluntary action

The salient point here is that there's a temporal separation between mind and body that is manifest in the latency barrier that you so aptly describe. The body is always in the moment, the mind, be it the conscious or unconscious, never is due to the stimulus to perception delay. It's precisely because of the stimulus to perception delay that the mind can never know an "instant" of time. It can only perceive the past and ponder the future.

And there are degrees of stimulus to perception to action delay based on how closely the mind is fixed on what's currently happening. A highly coordinated mind and body (again, I'm not distinguishing between the conscious and unconscious mind) will exhibit less of a stimulus to action delay than a mind and body that are widely separated temporally. Being caught day dreaming in math class, stepping off a curb and not seeing the car that almost runs you down, freezing up during a three person randori, a deer frozen in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle are examples of what I'm talking about. They're all examples of mind and body being widely disjointed in time (relatively speaking).

To illustrate with a personal example: When I was in the tenth grade in high school I tried out for the varsity baseball team. It turned out that I could hit pitches thrown by the school's pitching machine like there was no tomorrow. One ball after another flew off the bat, sweet spot hit every one. The coach was impressed and I was one of 3 sophomores to make the team. Our first game found me leading off (a bad coaching decision in retrospect) , scared s%*tless to be honest. The pitcher tossed up three fastballs right down the middle of the plate, about waist high. Three pitches that I watched go right by. My mind was so abuzz that my body was paralyzed and by the time I decided to swing the ball was past me; even though I knew on some level that each pitch was perfect the instant it left the pitcher hand. During the tryouts, my mind and body were highly coordinated; during that first at bat in the first game... not so much.

In terms of personal survival, my example is pretty trivial but it's had a profound effect on the nature and direction of my Aikido training.

Ron

ken king
02-28-2015, 11:32 AM
IMO, internal methods focus more on what you're doing to yourself. External methods you "do somethin" to someone else.

Carsten Möllering
03-01-2015, 07:25 AM
What does "internal" mean to you?Thank you: At least to me this is indee a very challenging question.

Following the thread about "the relevance of origin (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24179)" I think it's not that important what I think "internal" means. I think that there is no need to reinvent the term and it's understanding. Because, if I do so it will only contain, what I am able to put into it. I won't encounter anything new, but I will only find reflections of myself. In the worst case without being aware oft it.

So to me it seems to be more interesting and more helpfull to be mindfull of the teachings that transmitted the term "internal" and it's meaning it for centuries.
At least it is my experience that for example just one short look at the nei jing tu 內經圖 shows me that "internal" 內 means so much more than I can ever imagine. And this still is true alltthough I took my first view on it about 25 years ago.
The text of Tom Bisio which Chris has linked right at the beginning of this thread, points in the right direction and may give some good hints. And the texts of Ueshiba as Chris states are closely connected.

Also I think it is very interesting and very helpful to go and meet and feel persons who are able to teach these internals in the present. Feeling their body, feeling how they move, feeling in which way one's own body is affected by what they do.
At least for me this was the starting point: Feeling certain teachers and realizing that what they do is completely different. Feeling them and becoming aware, that they can actually do - and teach - what old Chinese and Japanese texts are talking about.

It is my observation that those teachers "agree" in how the feel, how they use their body and how they affect their partner. And also how they talk about what they do. Although being very different in many respects, essentially they transmit the very same understanding of "internal" - allthough some of them don't use this term - and - what's more - comparable manifestations of "internal" skills.
At least it is my experience that I may be able to use an exercise of this teachers to find a better aproach to what anotherone tries to convey. Then there is a third one who, without knowing about that, gives me a very subtle correction, that put's the pieces even more together. And so on ...
But what strike's me most, is that I have heard teachers use the exactly same expression, the exact same words to describe what they do and how and why that works. - Allthough they never met, even don't know each other and stem from "totally" different internal traditions within the Japanese context. But also from the chinese arts.

Just like reading o sensei writing about aiki as cross of yin-yang and kan-li only to find hat again in old chinese texts about nei/內 dan or nei/內 gong.

Carsten Möllering
03-04-2015, 02:35 AM
Ah ...
At least for me this was the starting point: Feeling certain teachers and realizing that what they do is completely different. ... .
...meaning: Different from what other teachers, i.e. the majority of teachers does.

andrew sunter
03-04-2015, 07:11 PM
To say nothing of the teachers who know all kinds of stuff about internals and exhibit it but don't teach it. Or the teachers who exhibit internals but don't know anything about it. Or teachers who teach internals but can't exhibit it.

Or the teachers who exhibit internals and may or may not know anything about it, but teach something which may not be the best way for students to learn it.

Or the teachers who know, exhibit, and teach internals, but cannot abide other teachers who know and exhibit internals but teach in a different way, and insist the other teachers know nothing, which leaves students who may or may not have any idea what they are feeling or what they are doing confused as to what the whole thing is about.

V astute (and hilarious) summation Cliff! I always assumed that if someone could do it well they would also be able to teach it well. Now I have some pretty serious doubts.