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Old 09-02-2006, 06:45 AM   #1
statisticool
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Internal & External strength discussion

Hi,

I'll expand on my point

"-despite claims of unusual strength, its promoters might just be waxing romantic about efficient use of normal strength, timing, balance, and relaxation"

(from http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpo...&postcount=227)

a little bit.

In The Secrets of Judo, a judo book from the 1950s (endorsed by the president of the Kodokan at the time, Jigoro Kano's son, Risei Kano), vectors are used as a teaching tool throughout the whole book. In fact, diagram 22 on p. 48 (and others elsewhere) looks like a lot of what we see in pictures from some internal strength people.

However, there do seem to be some important differences between approaches.

-The judo book uses physics as a teaching tool then moves on. That is, they aren't saying that if you don't agree or have a different opinion you or your teachers are unknowledgable, bordering on fraud, etc.

-The book emphasizes things besides ground force; gravity for example, as well as momentum, friction, impulsive force, and muscular force. That is, ground strength isn't their only focus or their main focus.

-They don't say the force is still unusual, which seems to be an appeal to the mysterious still even after talking about sciency stuff. They go out of their way to say that everything about it is quite ordinary.

-They present actual calculations that anyone can verify

-One can see examples of judo in action in free sparring sessions, demonstrating these principles. As a taijiquan practicioner, I admit that such things are rarely seen in taijiquan. We seem to do more fixed applications, or drills, things which may not translate 100% into real life.

-They show vectors on each throwing or grappling technique presented. In internal strength sources, they are mostly just shown with peng (ward off).

There are some other interesting discussions on physics in the book, for example
  • interesting discussion about the nervous system and reaction time
  • discusion on stablity of objects
  • discussion on Newton's laws of motion
  • calculations of force produced upon hitting the ground
  • discussions on ukemi, how making the time t largest in Ft=mv to break the fall
  • discussions on times where pushing off the ground with your feet might not be applicable

One thing that jumped out at me, is that if diagram 22 on p. 48 looks like a lot of what we see in pictures from some 'internal strength' people, it could be argued that it brings the whole internal vs. external thing into question, especially when the judo book stresses relaxation a lot, and says things like ", he must learn to put into operation the principle of mind over matter", and "You will become one with him. You and your opponent will no longer be two bodies separated from each other but a single entity, physically, mentally, and spiritually inseparable"., things which could probably be taken right out of a taijiquan or aikido book.

Any thoughts?


Justin

Last edited by statisticool : 09-02-2006 at 06:52 AM.

A secret of internal strength?:
"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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Old 09-02-2006, 07:00 PM   #2
DonMagee
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Re: Internal & External strength discussion

I think that simply hard physical sport behavior can lead to a stronger mind. When I first started judo everything was fast. It was hard, I used a lot of strenght to compesate for my lack of technique (something I still do more then I would want to say). You learn to pull and break the balance, you try to hop, you try to mess your partners footwork up so you can attack. These are all very physical things. Eventually you develop more physical traits that help your judo. For example, I've been told by friends i'm teaching that it feels like I have a constant pull when I grab the gi. I've been told if feels like I'm dragging them down. To me I don't even notice. But if someone mentions it, I become aware of it and then it goes quickly away. After about 6 or 7 months of training I got used to what I was doing. I was no longer afraid of the ground. I started to like getting thrown. This relaxation allowed me to 'play' on the mat durring randori. No longer did I have the fear of landing and crushing my little friends, or landing on my shoulder, or knocking knees. This ment I was no longer fighting my partner. I was feeling him and making adjustments. Rather then pull and turn with all my strenght to hope to get the throw, I would wait feel him for presure and then use my pull for the throw. Eventually this lead to feeling very slight movement that I could exaggerate by moving my body instead of using my strength. It is very much a mind of no mind. Similar to anyone doing any kind of sport activity. Your brain acts on instinct to compesate for the speed. The slightest touch gives you feed back to read your partner. Any good athelete will develop this naturally. It does not have to be cultivated or talked about.

I think 90% of judo, bjj, wrestling is being in the right place at the right time. Knowing the right moment to move by reading your partner. This can only be gained though actual experiance. Once you have this, you are in esssence blending with your attacker, moving with him instead of reacting (well it seems that way). People who look for greater meaning in this will find a spirital experiance. Just like runners do with the runners high. It is the essence of being 100% in a moment. Having no fears, worrys, or even thoughts you can put to words (although afterwards you can tell someone 'what you were thinking'.) The parts described as internal strength are really just proper body position and the proper time and then looking for a deeper meaning in what you do.

Anything can have a deeper meaning. Fishing, gardening, running, boxing. Hell the japaneese seem to find a way to give every mundane task a 'art' or deeper meaning. It is how they decided to relate to their world. As for why the book stressed so many things you see in tajiquan and aikido, it is simply because these things are really important to the body structure requried to do judo. If you are tense, you are easier to throw, your muscles work against each other (It is easier to lift an alive person then a dead one right?). If you dont' stay relaxed, you will loose control of your breathing, get tired, develop poor posture, make mistakes. Relaxation is important in every art I've ever studied. BJJ, Boxing, Judo. In fact even in TKD I was told to relax a lot. (except in forms, then I was told to be tense and scream a lot). For example, in BJJ if you do not stay relaxed you will push yourself out. You will burn up your energy in a few minutes and get dominated. If you dont relax while someone has all their weight on your chest, you will get winded, panic and start flipping out. Relaxation is the key to maximum use of strenght over a long period of time. As for the mind over matter. It is important because if you are ahead of your attacker. You will give yourself away. If you are too slow, you will be too late to have any effect. Your movements must be in harmony with the attacker to even begin to have a chance. If you are going for a collar choke and put preasure on before your second hand is locked in, he is going to defend. If you walk your hands up slowly and dont go for it, He is going to defend. If you casually grab his collar, side one hand in position while keeping in line with his motions. He might not notice the setup until the other hand is just in range, then it is too late. You have kept his mind away from that hand. You gave it no importance by trying to muscle that other hand in, or by trying to put force into that hand.

Anyways, if you have proper timing, and you understand the leverage and body mechanics required, then you should not feel like you have to muscle anything. It should require very little strength to throw someone over your head. The lack of balance and proper placement of your legs should just lift him up and then gravity should take him down. You should never be fighting to secure an arm for a keylock or an armbar. Your position and body weight should make it impossible for him to defend. You should never be scrambling and trying to pull someone up for a hip toss. It should simply be a slight lift in your legs that hoists him up on your back in a position that requires very little effort to carry. A lot of what some people call internal strenght is really what a lot of wrestlers I know can proper positioning or the right way to use your arms and legs.

Many roads leading to the same place I guess.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 09-02-2006, 08:00 PM   #3
statisticool
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Re: Internal & External strength discussion

Thanks Don! I enjoyed reading your response.

Today I was thinking about this some more and decided to quote mine a few martial arts books.

I found 8 quotes, one of which I already gave the answer to:

1. You will become one with him. You and your opponent will no longer be two bodies separated from each other but a single entity, physically, mentally, and spiritually inseparable.

2. The fists punch the opponent's chest. This punch is very powerful. When the opponent receives the blow there is great danger he will be gravely injured.

3. Use four tahils against a thousand katis, ie use minimum force to neutralize maximum strength.

4. ...is a time-proven method of self discovery and personal development in which beating an opponent is not nearly as important as the physical, mental, and spiritual growth that take place during the process of training and practicing.

5. Emphasis is placed on development of the mind rather than on techniques.

6. The torso should be erect. No leaning allowed. Coupled with properly bent knees, you will feel the balance of your body dwelling somewhere around your belly (this is a good place to keep it, too)...

7. Also make sure your back foot is not directly behind the lead foot (your feet should stay shoulder-width apart).

8. ...since the force generated by the use of the body as a whole will be greater than that obtainable by employing any of its parts separately (i.e., arms, legs, etc.), so will the force resulting from the use of the mind and body as a totality be greater than that realizable by their separate employment.

Here are 8 martial art styles that these quotes are pulled from. Note that they are a mix of 'internal' and 'external':

a. fencing
b. muay thai
c. karate
d. judo
e. aikido
f. taijiquan
g. boxing
h. shaolin

One can try matching the quotes to their styles. No one I've given it to has been able to score too well, which to me implies that so many things in martial arts are universal, such as relaxation, moving from the center, using the mind, using the whole body, good timing, good balance, and etc., to make a lot of grey area in the distinctions.

Answers:
[spoiler]
1, d, The Secrets of Judo, judo

2, f, Cheng Tzu's 13 Treatises on T'ai Chi Ch'uan, taijiquan

3, h, The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu, shaolin

4, b, Fighting Strategies of Muay Thai: Secrets of Thailand's Boxing Camps, muay thai

5, c, Karate-Do Kyohan: The Master Text, karate

6, a, The Art and Science of Fencing, fencing

7, g, The Ultimate Boxer: Understanding the Sport and Skills of Boxing , boxing

8, e, Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere, aikido
[/spoiler]


Justin

Last edited by statisticool : 09-02-2006 at 08:06 PM.

A secret of internal strength?:
"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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Old 09-03-2006, 05:47 AM   #4
Upyu
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Re: Internal & External strength discussion

Quote:
Don Magee wrote:
<snip>
You should never be fighting to secure an arm for a keylock or an armbar. Your position and body weight should make it impossible for him to defend.

A lot of what some people call internal strenght is really what a lot of wrestlers I know can proper positioning or the right way to use your arms and legs.

Many roads leading to the same place I guess.
Good advice Don, but what's funny is that you don't see many that follow that advice, even in the pro circuits. You forgot to add speed to that list of position and leverage.
Everyone is "competing" on this same field.

What happens when you get a wrestler who knows how to use his position and weight, but STILL gets flipped over with ease by the guy on the bottom.

So as far as your quote about internal strength, I'd say that I'd disagree. I work out with wrestlers as well, none of them have ever felt the kind of stuff I can do, or what some of my classmates can do.
Whether you can "fight" with those skills is a seperate issue of course.

I was just discussing this the other day though with the wrestlers/shoot fighters I work out with, and we all agreed that if you want to get ahead, especially in today's increasingly competitive ring environments, the need to bring something "new" to the table is going to increase. You'll need something that's more than just basic leverage, positioning, timing and power. The funny thing is that these body skills take care of leverage and positioning automatically really (And I have my own theories on how it automatically gives you a boost in timing, by default)
It's going to be an interesting day when you see a wrestler/shoot fighter/mmaer whatever that integrates this stuff seamleslly into his game.
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Old 09-03-2006, 11:45 AM   #5
DonMagee
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Re: Internal & External strength discussion

Quote:
Robert John wrote:
Good advice Don, but what's funny is that you don't see many that follow that advice, even in the pro circuits. You forgot to add speed to that list of position and leverage.
Everyone is "competing" on this same field.

What happens when you get a wrestler who knows how to use his position and weight, but STILL gets flipped over with ease by the guy on the bottom.
I'd say in that instance, he didn't have proper position and weight disturbution. We can't be perfect 100% of the time. And of course sometimes the person you are holding down is strong enough it doesnt' matter. I mean I have a 14 year old kid that trains with us. It doesn't matter how he is positioned, I'm strong enough to pick him up with one arm from my back. In this instance all the internal of external strenght in the world will do him no good. However, when I roll with him I use no strenght. I work all technique and I make sure to reward him when he works good technique. In a few years I"m sure he is going to be awesome at BJJ. Providing he keeps at it that is. Some of it will be the fact he will be physically bigger. Some of it will be the fact he will get adult muscles. Some of it will be that he will make less mistakes, and some of it will be that he will know how to use his body properly. I have no doubt if he stays with it he will be better than I am by the time he is my age.

Quote:
Robert John wrote:
So as far as your quote about internal strength, I'd say that I'd disagree. I work out with wrestlers as well, none of them have ever felt the kind of stuff I can do, or what some of my classmates can do.
Whether you can "fight" with those skills is a seperate issue of course.
Here you have to then define what you are doing that they are not. I never said everyone will develop these skills. But I have met a lot of guys that have. I've met guys who know how to make themselves heavy, can do unbendable arms, lock out the person with the arm while moving the body, etc. All the standard ki stuff, but they have never heard of ki. They learned it though sports training. These are simply skills any excelent athelete will develop. I bet michael jordan can do a lot of ki feats from simply playing years of basketball. The fact you can do something they can't is not really evidence. It simply shows they have not learned it yet.

This leads of course to the question of how important the skill is to learn. As you said, using a internal strenght skill and using it to fight are two different things. So the question would be if learning the skill, but being unable to employ it at will in a conflict is really all that useful outside of party tricks. I can do a lot of neat things if I set them up properly. I can sit and not be pushed over, I can hold back multiple people on one leg with one arm. I can hold 2 fingers in a ring shape while 2 or more people pull on my fingers trying to pry them appart. I dont concider any of these things internal strength. I concider them party tricks that use proper person positioning and physics to make me look really cool. None of these tricks required the mental focus I was once told they required. They simply required proper understanding of the mechanical forces used and how to manipulate them in my favor. I really think every single internal strenght skill can be broken down into physical components of proper position, leverage, or other physical properties. The mental aspect simply allows us to do something we are already able to do. Like breaking a board. You have to punch though the board. A lot of people can do that without visualizing the punch going though the board. But a lot of people can't. So you tell them to visualize a beam of engergy shooting though the board from their hand ending a few inches behind the board. They punch and break it. We did not create a mystic power they never had, we simply aligned their body up properly and had them strike to the proper place. The coordination of mind and body is how I was told to create ki. I think that eventually you learn how to move properly and the mind aspect is no longer that important.

Quote:
Robert John wrote:
I was just discussing this the other day though with the wrestlers/shoot fighters I work out with, and we all agreed that if you want to get ahead, especially in today's increasingly competitive ring environments, the need to bring something "new" to the table is going to increase. You'll need something that's more than just basic leverage, positioning, timing and power. The funny thing is that these body skills take care of leverage and positioning automatically really (And I have my own theories on how it automatically gives you a boost in timing, by default)
It's going to be an interesting day when you see a wrestler/shoot fighter/mmaer whatever that integrates this stuff seamleslly into his game.
I agree that as the skill level rises, we are going to see new and exciting things. But I think that it will evolve out even if no one in MMA ever studies internal arts. Because proper body mechanics will evolve simply though trial and error. Because everyone is always looking for the easiest way to do something with minimum effort. In fact ask any martial art what it's biggest strenght is, usually you get this line "Our art excels where others fail because it can be used to defeat bigger stronger faster opponents because we do not need strenght" Or they will say "We believe in maximum effect for minimum effort", or something along those lines. Everyone is after the same goal. A way to use your body the most efficently possible. Some just get stuck in their ways and take longer to change. Fortuantly for us, sports training is not locked as much by tradition, so it can change to meet better methods of training and get rid of counter productive methods. The downside of course is that sports training is usually very hard on the body, which means it is not for everyone. To excel at sports, you have to be willing to sacrifice a lot.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 09-03-2006, 03:09 PM   #6
Michael Douglas
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Re: Internal & External strength discussion

Don, you are right when you say ; I've met guys who know how to make themselves heavy, can do unbendable arms, lock out the person with the arm while moving the body, etc.

I'd go one further and even say some rare people can do such things without serious sport training of any kind. Rare but they do exist.
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Old 09-03-2006, 03:41 PM   #7
Upyu
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Re: Internal & External strength discussion

Quote:
Don Magee wrote:
These are simply skills any excelent athelete will develop. I bet michael jordan can do a lot of ki feats from simply playing years of basketball. The fact you can do something they can't is not really evidence. It simply shows they have not learned it yet.

This leads of course to the question of how important the skill is to learn. As you said, using a internal strenght skill and using it to fight are two different things. So the question would be if learning the skill, but being unable to employ it at will in a conflict is really all that useful outside of party tricks. I can do a lot of neat things if I set them up properly. I can sit and not be pushed over, I can hold back multiple people on one leg with one arm. I can hold 2 fingers in a ring shape while 2 or more people pull on my fingers trying to pry them appart. I dont concider any of these things internal strength.
Actually I think Don brings up a good point with this stuff since I think a lot of the "tricks" associated with being "Ki" demos are extremely fundamental.
And Don's right, I think they have everything to do with phsyology and physics (though I disagree with the positioning bit )
Not to say they don't have value, but like Don basically says, a lot of people can pick up bits and pieces of these basic skills through years of sports training.
I think though, since those are the fundamentals, the real trick will be to speed up this process to where people can access the so called "advanced" material and make these parlor tricks more than simply body skill that is an accessory to what they do.

Don I know where you're coming from I think, and while people can access bits and parts of these skills, there's no one in the sports area that's trying to gather it together as a whole and make a more "efficient" curriculum for human movement.
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Old 09-03-2006, 08:36 PM   #8
DonMagee
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Re: Internal & External strength discussion

I think they try to make more efficient training all the time. It is just they dont use the same terminology. In fact I hear my bjj coach saying things like "I've found this movement to require less effort." Or show me a way to improve what I am doing by using less strength. MMA training in general has come a long way from 1990. In the end, 3 things are still the most important no matter what you are doing. Any smart fighter can tell you what they are. Balance, breathing, relaxation. Sport fighters also talk a lot about mindset required to win fights. Visualization is a big part in a lot of figthers training. Another common straw is using the core body over the limbs. You dont punch with your arms, you dont armbar with your arms, you use your core. Your hips and what aikido calls the 'hara' are just as vital and preached about in bjj, judo, boxing, etc. It is just they use a differnt term, or they just say "your middle is stronger they his arm".

When you get down to it, the concepts are the same, but the training methods used to build them, and terms used to describe them are what is different. I'm a big fan of finding the best training methods to build whatever it is I want to build. If I think my breathing suffers, I run wind sprints in addition to my normal run. I have yet to find a better way to work on controling my breath (I also admit I really really need to run more). The same was true for me with ki fundamentals. I never really developed any usable skill until I started training heavly in bjj. Once I started sparing 4 times a week and competing frequenty I felt things click and make sense. I developed skills at a rapid rate.

YOu have to make choices in training. Things suffer, things grow, things stagnate. I personaly feel a lot of internal strenghts are useful, but not as useful as the experiance gained from constant sport engagmenets (sparing, competition, etc) Perhaps as I max out the sport path and find my physical limits (which at 26 I have yet to do). I will find more value in kata training. Right now the ki skills I find value in are coming naturally from good fundamental understanding of body mechanics.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 09-03-2006, 08:50 PM   #9
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: Internal & External strength discussion

Quote:
Done Magee wrote:
"None of these tricks required the mental focus I was once told they required. They simply required proper understanding of the mechanical forces used and how to manipulate them in my favor."
Bingo! I agree 100% All the misdirected mental focus was a waste of time - that could have been used to do other stuff in the meanwhile. Western martial artists practicing Asian arts may have a real advantage in the cultural difference, a) explaining something clearly in a currently viable physical paradigm (even though the explanation may not be complete, and a lot of stuff that advanced practitioners of "ki" skills can do is still not easily explainable this way) b) actually wanting to make it open for common use.
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Old 09-04-2006, 06:31 PM   #11
Mike Sigman
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Re: Internal & External strength discussion

Quote:
Gernot Hassenpflug wrote:
Bingo! I agree 100% All the misdirected mental focus was a waste of time - that could have been used to do other stuff in the meanwhile. Western martial artists practicing Asian arts may have a real advantage in the cultural difference, a) explaining something clearly in a currently viable physical paradigm (even though the explanation may not be complete, and a lot of stuff that advanced practitioners of "ki" skills can do is still not easily explainable this way) b) actually wanting to make it open for common use.
Each to his own, but as a caution I have to note that these things are far more complicated/sophisticated than I once thought and the depths go further than the "if I go to a couple of good seminars I can add this stuff to the already reasonable stuff I already do". There's more to it than just slight deviations from normal movement; to err and think it's really not sophisticated and pretty different is to make a big mistake. Been there, done that.

O-Sensei making a big deal out of this stuff was not happenstance.

Mike
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Old 09-04-2006, 08:06 PM   #12
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: Internal & External strength discussion

Mike, I wonder though, as a foot in the door approach isn't there a lot to be gained by Western explanations like you yourself use? - people who are interested can then search for the good teachers without having a metaphysical misunderstanding of "chi". I mean, watching Abe sensei's students brainlessly copying movements is not much different in result from Westerners who eschew the idea of "ki" on scientific grounds - both are missing the point.
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Old 09-04-2006, 08:16 PM   #13
Mike Sigman
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Re: Internal & External strength discussion

Quote:
Gernot Hassenpflug wrote:
Mike, I wonder though, as a foot in the door approach isn't there a lot to be gained by Western explanations like you yourself use? -
Ultimately, I think "Western explanations" are the only way to go. What I was getting at was that although most people have not made the jump to understanding that there is actually something there they don't know about, the next step is to get a little bit and think you've got a grip on the whole picture. I.e., my point was that western-paradigm or not, this stuff is like a fractal that keeps expanding before your eyes as you examine it. Every year I learn something new and "basic" that makes me go "whew... glad I didn't make an idiot out of myself by 'writing a book' last year".

Mike
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Old 09-04-2006, 09:52 PM   #14
Gernot Hassenpflug
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Re: Internal & External strength discussion

If it's as you say, and I have no reason to doubt this, that still shouldn't stop you from writing a book. With the proper humility that is. Every scientist knows that what he proposes is based on something that changes with illumination by further research. How well must one know the basics of a field before one can put together something of general value for beginners? A difficult question...but not as difficult as the same question for writing something aimed at fellow experts!
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Old 09-04-2006, 10:00 PM   #15
statisticool
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Re: Internal & External strength discussion

I'd love to see a book from such a knowledgeable source.

I'd warmly suggest leaving out all the stuff about cults, worshipping gods, and teacher bashing in reference to the numerous people that might disagree with the author, but it would be at least a good read and would open the author to professional criticism or praise from the global taijiquan community.

I'd also suggest having a few professional translators verify the accuracy of the translation, especially with words like jin, and especially qi and kokyu.


Justin

A secret of internal strength?:
"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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Old 09-05-2006, 07:17 AM   #16
Mike Sigman
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Re: Internal & External strength discussion

Quote:
Gernot Hassenpflug wrote:
How well must one know the basics of a field before one can put together something of general value for beginners? A difficult question...but not as difficult as the same question for writing something aimed at fellow experts!
Exactly. I think the number of people who know little but pose a lot has done a lot to give me a soured viewpoint about much of western martial hierarchies. If I wrote something, I'd have to be satisfied that it indeed would help beginners, but at the same time I wouldn't want to imply that I'm an expert. I know some real experts and what they can do.... I'd never expose myself to their silent laughter by pretending to be something I wasn't. I would hope that all other "teachers" would feel the same way and understand that it's the respect of the experts that is important, not the respect of peer group or the beginners.

Regards,

Mike
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Old 09-10-2006, 10:03 AM   #17
statisticool
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Re: Internal & External strength discussion

Quote:
Don Magee wrote:
In fact I hear my bjj coach saying things like "I've found this movement to require less effort." Or show me a way to improve what I am doing by using less strength.
I hear that a lot, and hold it to be true. I've heard many of the Gracies rolling around feel more like 'internal' (whatever that means) practicioners to whom they are rolling with.


Justin

A secret of internal strength?:
"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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