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Old 01-18-2013, 08:33 PM   #1
Michael Varin
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"Internal" and "External"

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?

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 01-18-2013, 09:24 PM   #2
hughrbeyer
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Are you sure you're in the right forum?

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.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 01-19-2013, 05:02 AM   #3
Lee Salzman
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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.

Last edited by Lee Salzman : 01-19-2013 at 05:06 AM.
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:19 AM   #4
ChrisHein
 
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Quote:
Hugh Beyer wrote: View Post
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?

Quote:
The origin of the terms is pretty much self-evident.
What is that?

Quote:
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?

Quote:
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'?

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Old 01-21-2013, 05:30 AM   #5
Lee Salzman
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Quote:
Chris Hein wrote: View Post
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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."

Quote:
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? 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.
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:33 AM   #6
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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.

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Old 01-21-2013, 09:45 AM   #7
hughrbeyer
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:30 AM   #8
Bernd Lehnen
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:11 PM   #9
ChrisHein
 
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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.

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Old 01-21-2013, 06:53 PM   #10
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

http://mikesigman.blogspot.com/2012/...-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.
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Old 01-21-2013, 07:33 PM   #11
ChrisHein
 
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Quote:
Hunter Lonsberry wrote: View Post
http://mikesigman.blogspot.com/2012/...-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.

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Old 01-21-2013, 09:28 PM   #12
hughrbeyer
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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.

Evolution doesn't prove God doesn't exist, any more than hammers prove carpenters don't exist.
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:15 PM   #13
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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?

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Old 01-21-2013, 11:49 PM   #14
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
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.

Last edited by tanthalas : 01-21-2013 at 11:53 PM.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:38 AM   #15
Michael Varin
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Quote:
Calvin On wrote: View Post
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
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:53 AM   #16
Michael Varin
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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 ). For the life of me, I cannot speak a foreign language. My wife picks them up like nothing.

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 01-22-2013, 05:10 AM   #17
Lee Salzman
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
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 ). 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.

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?

Last edited by Lee Salzman : 01-22-2013 at 05:17 AM.
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:36 AM   #18
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
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.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
http://charlotteaikikai.org
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:50 AM   #19
chillzATL
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
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 ). 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.
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:57 AM   #20
HL1978
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:00 AM   #21
Cady Goldfield
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

"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.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:41 AM   #22
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Quote:
Cady Goldfield wrote: View Post
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.

Last edited by Demetrio Cereijo : 01-22-2013 at 10:43 AM. Reason: typo

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Old 01-22-2013, 12:57 PM   #23
tanthalas
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:12 PM   #24
ChrisHein
 
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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:
Quote:
Kevin leavitt wrote:
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.

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Old 01-22-2013, 02:25 PM   #25
Alfonso
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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

Alfonso Adriasola
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