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Old 01-23-2013, 10:08 PM   #88
Dojo: Aunkai
Location: Fairfax, VA
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 429
Re: "Internal" and "External"

Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
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 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 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.
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