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Old 01-23-2013, 02:58 PM   #76
ChrisHein
 
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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Calvin On wrote: View Post
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?

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Old 01-23-2013, 03:02 PM   #77
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Quote:
Hunter Lonsberry wrote: View Post
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!

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

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Old 01-23-2013, 03:03 PM   #78
Lee Salzman
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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Chris Hein wrote: View Post
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.

Last edited by Lee Salzman : 01-23-2013 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 01-23-2013, 03:05 PM   #79
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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Alfonso Adriasola wrote: View Post
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.

Quote:
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.

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Old 01-23-2013, 03:11 PM   #80
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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Lee Salzman wrote: View Post
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?

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Old 01-23-2013, 03:20 PM   #81
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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Chris Hein wrote: View Post
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.

Last edited by Lee Salzman : 01-23-2013 at 03:22 PM.
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Old 01-23-2013, 03:23 PM   #82
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Chris wrote:

Quote:
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?

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Old 01-23-2013, 03:53 PM   #83
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
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.

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Old 01-23-2013, 05:04 PM   #84
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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!

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Old 01-23-2013, 08:06 PM   #85
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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Chris Hein wrote: View Post
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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?

Quote:
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.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 01-23-2013, 08:40 PM   #86
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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Chris Hein wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 01-23-2013, 08:54 PM   #87
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
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.
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:08 PM   #88
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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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 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.
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Old 01-23-2013, 09:54 PM   #89
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
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.

Quote:
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?

Quote:

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"?

Quote:
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?

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Old 01-24-2013, 04:26 AM   #90
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Hunter wrote:

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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!

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Old 01-24-2013, 05:13 AM   #91
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

Chris wrote:

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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.

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Old 01-24-2013, 06:35 AM   #92
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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Chris Hein wrote: View Post
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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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 ) 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?

Quote:
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.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:51 AM   #93
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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Kevin Leavitt wrote: View Post
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.

"budo is putting on cold, wet, sweat stained gi with a smile and a snarl" - your truly
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Old 01-24-2013, 07:18 AM   #94
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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Hunter Lonsberry wrote: View Post
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.

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Old 01-24-2013, 08:10 AM   #95
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
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
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Old 01-24-2013, 11:07 AM   #96
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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...

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Old 01-24-2013, 02:24 PM   #97
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Location: Fresno , CA
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 1,628
United_States
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Re: "Internal" and "External"

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/showth...599#post322599

See you there!

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