What does "internal" mean to you?
Thank you: At least to me this is indee a very challenging question.
Following the thread about "the relevance of origin
" I think it's not that important what I
think "internal" means. I think that there is no need to reinvent the term and it's understanding. Because, if I do so it will only contain, what I am able to put into it. I won't encounter anything new, but I will only find reflections of myself. In the worst case without being aware oft it.
So to me it seems to be more interesting and more helpfull to be mindfull of the teachings that transmitted the term "internal" and it's meaning it for centuries.
At least it is my experience that for example just one short look at the nei jing tu 內經圖 shows me that "internal" 內 means so much more than I can ever imagine. And this still is true alltthough I took my first view on it about 25 years ago.
The text of Tom Bisio which Chris has linked right at the beginning of this thread, points in the right direction and may give some good hints. And the texts of Ueshiba as Chris states are closely connected.
Also I think it is very interesting and very helpful to go and meet and feel persons who are able to teach these internals in the present. Feeling their body, feeling how they move, feeling in which way one's own body is affected by what they do.
At least for me this was the starting point: Feeling certain teachers and realizing that what they do is completely different. Feeling them and becoming aware, that they can actually do - and teach - what old Chinese and Japanese texts are talking about.
It is my observation that those teachers "agree" in how the feel, how they use their body and how they affect their partner. And also how they talk about what they do. Although being very different in many respects, essentially they transmit the very same understanding of "internal" - allthough some of them don't use this term - and - what's more - comparable manifestations of "internal" skills.
At least it is my experience that I may be able to use an exercise of this teachers to find a better aproach to what anotherone tries to convey. Then there is a third one who, without knowing about that, gives me a very subtle correction, that put's the pieces even more together. And so on ...
But what strike's me most, is that I have heard teachers use the exactly same expression, the exact same words to describe what they do and how and why that works. - Allthough they never met, even don't know each other and stem from "totally" different internal traditions within the Japanese context. But also from the chinese arts.
Just like reading o sensei writing about aiki as cross of yin-yang and kan-li only to find hat again in old chinese texts about nei/內 dan or nei/內 gong.