"Internal arts" and their power generation

ofekd

Jingang
Staff member
I've been talking to a friend of mine about some of what makes Taiji "internal" -- basically that power is generated with opposing spirals internal to the body. He raised a very good question that I had no answer to:

Since that internal power generation method is unique to Taiji, why are Xingyi and Bagua also considered internal?
 

johnyii

Nerd
The opposite spiral is only one of the expression of “internal” power. Not knowing much about about Xingyi and Bagua but there seem to be much more similarities such as body coordination as well as rooting.
 

Robin Wu

Panda Cub
I remember the question of external and internal being asked in the Chinese Internal Gongfu Razor group (I hope the link leads to the thread correctly).

I hope Marin doesn't mind if I quote one of his comments.

The gist of it seems to be that "internal" or "external" should be viewed as ratio and not as absolutes. According to this thread, the classifcation of internal refers to "significantly higher ratio of body core driven and power-chain type of network connection to limbs."
 

Marin

Lao Tou
Staff member
I've been talking to a friend of mine about some of what makes Taiji "internal" -- basically that power is generated with opposing spirals internal to the body. He raised a very good question that I had no answer to:

Since that internal power generation method is unique to Taiji, why are Xingyi and Bagua also considered internal?

The opposite spiral is only one of the expression of “internal” power. Not knowing much about about Xingyi and Bagua but there seem to be much more similarities such as body coordination as well as rooting.
I would not consider 'rooting' to be a particular quality of what people refer to as 'internal' as 'rooting' is all over all Chinese gongfu. Our line/method has a particular approach and structure to root that is, I think, very unique. I don't think that approach is found in other arts but on it's own it probably would not qualify for the internal definition, which is suspect anyhow. I would say that it is the COMBINATION of that specific root approach with the specific body and connection approach that creates what we think of as 'internal' as it relates to root.

Xingyi has a good root and maybe in at least some cases closer to our own approach. XYQ also has some body connection to it usually, and (some branches) has a more developed vertical power approach, Dai Xingyi would come to mind. XYQ is not hugely developed on the turning, nor what we named "Chan Si jin" (which is basically multi-vector global circle with opposing spiral).

Bagua, great footwork, significantly less root-connection than XYQ (it is more of a spinning top heavy approach) and generally not particually similar to our approach, mainly it is just not focused enough on this to measure. Often has a well developed waist turning action, but not huge development in vertical circle, more simple turn vs multi-vector (Chan Si Jin) although within simple vector tunsing they may have more opposing twist than XYQ, keep in mind here I said twist, not spiral.

TJQ (in our case) has more 'multi-vector global opposing circle' which includes vertical power (XYQ) and lateral turn (BGZ) as well (in our system specifically) but the drawback is it is a huge system that takes a long time to learn and apply.

In my view the other two styles have the shortcoming of not developing the same depth and array of body method and connection as TJQ, but they have the advantage of being more easily and quickly practical since they both emphasize either line drill fighting applications or footwork/striking etc. That is the chain of priority- they are more targeted to specific types of application and usage and decline to train such global and deeper body method to make their practical focus possible. Gongfu jia for example delves deep into body method and connection and at least in earlier stages of practice is less immediately practical for usage, like most Taijiquan.

The results are different. I would not say that 'internal' is defined by opposing internal spirals either, but in our case that is at least partially true. I think the internal debate is challenging because it is overhyped and vague. Ours is the only method that uses its particular approach to shenfa etc, and that cannot be the measure of what is internal. It's just how we do "internal" gongfu. The broader definition has to be something more like 'using a higher percentage of connected body core power, rather than limb power to drive movement". Even Taijiquan and any other "internal art" still only use something like 60% internal engine, and the rest is still the limbs that deliver the power. So-called "external arts" are just using maybe 10-20% internal engine.
 

Marin

Lao Tou
Staff member
I remember the question of external and internal being asked in the Chinese Internal Gongfu Razor group (I hope the link leads to the thread correctly).

I hope Marin doesn't mind if I quote one of his comments.

The gist of it seems to be that "internal" or "external" should be viewed as ratio and not as absolutes. According to this thread, the classifcation of internal refers to "significantly higher ratio of body core driven and power-chain type of network connection to limbs."
I wonder if I contradict myself? :rolleyes:
 

Assad

Jingang
Your approach of ratios is similar to what Byron Jacobs says about internal arts: they emphasize body structure to generate power.
Because if you look at other arts, for instance boxing, at one point you have to have a certain amount of technical skills, and this is often about the angles, the position of your body, etc ... It's just that it's not the main approach to the art, one who starts boxing is not going to stay for hours in stationnary stances :D
 

johnyii

Nerd
In my view the other two styles have the shortcoming of not developing the same depth and array of body method and connection as TJQ, but they have the advantage of being more easily and quickly practical since they both emphasize either line drill fighting applications or footwork/striking etc. That is the chain of priority- they are more targeted to specific types of application and usage and decline to train such global and deeper body method to make their practical focus possible. Gongfu jia for example delves deep into body method and connection and at least in earlier stages of practice is less immediately practical for usage, like most Taijiquan.
I wonder is that why it is so many people (outside of gongfu jia) practice all of Taichi, XingYi and Bagua together to seek a more balanced body method !? As they start practicing one art and notice it is missing pieces that they can gain exposure from the other one.
 

Marin

Lao Tou
Staff member
I wonder is that why it is so many people (outside of gongfu jia) practice all of Taichi, XingYi and Bagua together to seek a more balanced body method !? As they start practicing one art and notice it is missing pieces that they can gain exposure from the other one.
I think this is in part accurate. In the "outdoors" (outside the family, as they say) Taijiquan exists as a rather watered down diffuse style favoring specific body approach and limited application focus. They often seek to develop soft body, multi directional method (you are the center), and soft contact with "yielding" and some grappling and "push hands". Some folks would call this Taiji approach "empty center". This is quite different of course from the approach of gongfujia, however it is still offering some missing pieces that XYQ does not have; grappling, they are more for striking, softness, and global direction, they are a bit more linear (attacking center on a line). BGZ is more turning and spinning (around a center), and originally has no tuishou, nor really any great contact training regimen.

In that universe it makes sense to mix and match. In terms of gongfujia or any other original and rich example of the traditional family style, many of the elements that appear to be missing in TJQ (that XYQ and BGZ would fill in) are present if one desires to dig them out; striking curriculum, circular walk and attack, vertical power, & and the many types of jins similar to some we might see in BGZ & XYQ.

I would add the disclaimer here that while I am approaching it this way, many others cannot or won't, but regardless, it is still there, inherent in the art. But yes, different types of body method, alleged "empty center" (should be myriad or global as in gongfujia) vs vertical circle (XYQ) vs twisting/turning horizontal plane (BGZ) for the outdoor world. Gongujia contains all these vectors.
 

teesid

Jingang
I think this is in part accurate. In the "outdoors" (outside the family, as they say) Taijiquan exists as a rather watered down diffuse style favoring specific body approach and limited application focus. They often seek to develop soft body, multi directional method (you are the center), and soft contact with "yielding" and some grappling and "push hands". Some folks would call this Taiji approach "empty center". This is quite different of course from the approach of gongfujia, however it is still offering some missing pieces that XYQ does not have; grappling, they are more for striking, softness, and global direction, they are a bit more linear (attacking center on a line). BGZ is more turning and spinning (around a center), and originally has no tuishou, nor really any great contact training regimen.

In that universe it makes sense to mix and match. In terms of gongfujia or any other original and rich example of the traditional family style, many of the elements that appear to be missing in TJQ (that XYQ and BGZ would fill in) are present if one desires to dig them out; striking curriculum, circular walk and attack, vertical power, & and the many types of jins similar to some we might see in BGZ & XYQ.

I would add the disclaimer here that while I am approaching it this way, many others cannot or won't, but regardless, it is still there, inherent in the art. But yes, different types of body method, alleged "empty center" (should be myriad or global as in gongfujia) vs vertical circle (XYQ) vs twisting/turning horizontal plane (BGZ) for the outdoor world. Gongujia contains all these vectors.
Does this mean XYQ's and BGZ's vector spaces are 2D-ish and Gonfujia's is 3D?
 

Marin

Lao Tou
Staff member
Does this mean XYQ's and BGZ's vector spaces are 2D-ish and Gonfujia's is 3D?
Not necessarily, but generally they are LESS of this than TJQ is. XYQ is definitely more linear and vertical. BGZ on the other hand can often be globally directional in application yet it has so much less attention and derivation from the root such that the result is utterly different. When one is not anchored to the legs and the limitations of too alignment then there is simply no requirement (nor product) to have a global shenfa, since one can just move their feet and legs with them rather than change the core of the body.
 

Assad

Jingang
Just to make sure I understand well, you are saying that those arts rely more on weight shifting whereas in TJQ, we are not. Is that correct ?
 

Marin

Lao Tou
Staff member
Just to make sure I understand well, you are saying that those arts rely more on weight shifting whereas in TJQ, we are not. Is that correct ?
No I am saying BGZ relies more on moving footwork and 'root' structure and body connection TO that is much less emphasized. When there is less root and the feet are moving all the time, there is less need for body core changes, since the feet are changing the angles for you.

XYQ has more root than BGZ but also has more limited angles than both BGZ and TJQ as it's focus is almost exclusively striking on a forward plane. Of course these are big generalizations yet at that level they are pretty reliable.
 
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