Qi, it's physics!

Discussion in 'Internal Martial Arts' started by ddwk21, Aug 23, 2015.

  1. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    Cor blind me quazaqwe ... blood over there, tissue and bone-fragments over there ... looks to be you've had yourself a right rave-up since I was last lookin- ... you've been at it twelve hours straight ... or more.

    Hope you'd someone bringing your tea and a chamber pot.

    I take it you've sorted them all out by now :D
  2. The Iron Fist

    The Iron Fist Banned Banned

    It's not physics but it's Harvard and the US National Institute of Health. In this context "internal" means the cultivation of "qi" via Tai Chi and related practices in similar arts. "Qi" itself is left undefined, and why not (it's not really a variable or measurement). I think the findings that "internal" style training influence fibromyalgia, and the mobility and mental health of seniors intriguing! It would appear to lend some credence to the legends of immortality etc that go along with the art, which begs the question...what can Tai Chi and other "internal" training styles do for you when you are young and can train vigorously?





    Last edited: Aug 25, 2015
  3. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    I like Hannibal's mentioning about it being different training methodology that gets you to the same place.

    I think this is how I could clearly define the differences as a beginner, and less so as the years go by.

    A couple of quick examples come to mind..............
    Beginner me was taught TCC uses softer redirection instead of hard blocks in CLF. Then, a sash level later or two later in CLF, I learn hard blocks are largely beginning principles and now we move onto far more redirection style blocks.

    Beginner me was taught TCC moves slowly and CLF moves faster. But at advanced levels, TCC has fast forms and we are taught we can now experiment with doing the forms at different speeds. And right now my CLF instructor is preparing several of us for black sash testing and is emphasizing the need for us to all slow down our forms right now to fix details. Also CLF has advanced level forms that are "internal sets" in our external style that move slower.
  4. aaradia

    aaradia Choy Li Fut and Yang Tai Chi Chuan Student Moderator Supporter

    As for why people still use the terms internal and external..............

    For me, they are terms that people commonly use and it takes too much effort to say otherwise every single time. It's the path of least resistance to having a conversation without getting into this very debate every single time it is brought up.

    I think CLF technically calls a bow stance something else. But almost everyone else calls it a bow stance, so we end up using that term in my lineage. I can't even recall what our official term if for that stance. I have to go look it up. Everyone knows Butterfly knives as butterfly knives, so I call them that instead of the lesser known term CLF uses for them. WC is better known and they use the term butterfly knives, so we use it.

    When people ask what I study. I tell them CLF style Kung Fu (and Yang TCC), knowing they won't even get the CLF part. Kung Fu isn't really the best term, but it broadly gets across what I do to people in a couple of words that they understand - even if it isn't really accurate. If I told them I just do CLF, they would look at me weird and not understand. If I got into a history of the whole "Wushu" modern and historical terminology, their eyes would roll back in their head. If I got into the whole translation of Kung Fu not even having to be a martial art, but any skill developed through work over time, their minds would be totally confused. And I think the common person also would not understand "Traditional Chinese Martial Arts." If I said that, they would probably say "you mean Kung Fu?" When they ask what I mean by CLF and I tell them Kung Fu is an umbrella term for hundreds of different styles of martial arts, most people have no idea. Half those people ask how my karate is coming along when they see me the next time anyways.:bang:

    So, I choose when I decide to be more precise in my martial arts terminology when it is worth it to me to get into the details.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2015
  5. qazaqwe

    qazaqwe Valued Member

    I can't lie, ever since i got the bedpan things have been rather unsporting on my part.
  6. qazaqwe

    qazaqwe Valued Member

    CLF to clarify is the one with all the looping punches that is supposed to have triumphed over some nak muay's in the 60's or something, right?

    As for your distinction on terminology, fair enough, but you have to admit that the distinction, even if it is a historical one, was based on the perceived mystic elements of the internal schools at one point in time, be they a sense of extreme mental focus to allow the body to reach high levels of relaxation, internal development of the flow of qi or utilization of other semi mystic principles like tao yin or nei gong, and to some people, that is what the distinction remains.
  7. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    Perhaps there is no internal nor external to begin with. At least, not in the sense that we in the West understand the terms.

    The English word internal being the closest thing someone could manage in an effort to translate what was being meant by the original Chinese word or words to describe what is meant by internal when used in the sense of internal martial art.

    I've learnt over the years that there is often enough of a difference in the English translation of a Chinese concept to almost nullify it completely, though the differences are usually subtle but profound.

    I think that due largely to the fact that the Chinese language is far richer, more complex and has a far greater lassitude with respects to a word's possible subtle shades of meaning finding a home in an actual specific word.

    Fifty shades of grey? Yeah, and hypothetically there is a specific Chinese word for each of those 50 shades - actually one would usually multiply that by two as the words would change depending on the users position within the Maternal/Paternal family.

    In other words their 'internal' and ours are quite likely to have profound differences that someone born in the West would not be culturally able to to identify.

    There's something else to ponder as well. In addition to the high likelihood of an inexact translation of 'internal' and 'external' (i.e. what comes to your mind when you hear 'internal' is not exactly what came to the minds of the original creators of IMAs) you have to consider that, as Iron Fist has already pointed out, what the original IMAists meant by Internal Martial Arts is probably an inexact, two-dimensional, best-effort working model of something we'd perceive in a totally different way altogether.

    When my wife comes down with a belly ache, or cold-sore or any number of maladies, she goes down to the basement where she opens up a package of pungent-smelling dried roots, preserved, dried out bugs, flower parts, leaves, etc that her mum leaves her with when she comes over and cooks these things for hours in a large, clay pot.

    After sufficiently stinking up the house, she lets it cool and then serves herself up a cup of the most god-awful, thick, black bitter-tasting abomination that a human could think to put in their stomach.

    The next day, her cold-sore, lurgy or dicky-tum, etc., is gone. It does work, I have to say, it does work with repeatability.

    The key thing is, however, they say that one is restoring balance by consuming this 'porridge'; that one's internal "heat"/internal "cold" is out of whack and that "heat/cold" imbalance being the root cause of whatever given illness to be righted. I don't hear a lot about qi from my Cantonese side but they place a great deal in the idea of internal "heat" and "cold".

    I have to admit that it took belltoller an embarrassingly long time to finally figure out that what was meant by internal heat and cold had nothing to do with temperature. I think if they'd used the term 'polarity' (as in oppositely charged poles, pos/neg, etc.,) I'd of not struggled with accepting it quite so much but be that as it may, I didn't buy into their concept - their definition - of disease pathology (from the Chinese Medicine standpoint) so therefore my colds would last a week and I was perfectly happy because obviously, any medicinal remedy based on this medieval idea of internal "heat/cold" balance couldn't work.

    Even though it did seem to.

    For whatever reasons, my perceptions of elements of CM had led me to draw very powerful associations with leeches, unsterile hack-saw amputations, the phlogiston theory of combustion and every other association with primitive medical thinking of the dark ages.

    When I realised that in essence my wife's 'witches brew' of dead bugs and dried roots was in reality a pharmacopoeia containing potent amines, phenols, etc., in raw form, the clay pot was performing the same function as a re flux-condensor and the resulting mixture had nothing to do with medieval, Asian physiology ideas but rather a "synthesized" compound that had an action on the virus' environment that diminished its ability to thrive in some fashion - I was able to accept the premise of the cure.

    Thats all fine and well and interesting...but as far as my own issue with the topic at hand goes - none of this has anything to do with it.

    This is what the OP and many others that I see holding court from time to time on the IMA forum are suggesting as the result and benefit of IMA:



    Granted it is understood that this is not authentic IMA - could someone point to examples that would be considered representatives.

    I'm not looking for 'demo' type vids, but rather a very good written or otherwise source on IMA.
  8. Johnno

    Johnno Valued Member

    Do you want Taiji, BaGua or XingYi? Because they are all considered to be IMA's, but are all very different. Or are you after a generic treatise or explanation?
  9. The Iron Fist

    The Iron Fist Banned Banned

    Wei dan and nei dan are the two composite sides of ancient Taoist arts of alchemy, the first being potions and brews and herbs and so forth and the latter being "internal" as in distinguished by being part of the body and not of the external world. Zhouyi Cantong Qi (參同契), and Huangdi Neijing the "Emperor's Inner Canon" two of the earliest works on the subject of internal alchemy are both 2,000 years old. They mentions nothing about martial arts as far as I am aware.

    Nei gong and wei gong as physical practices heralded by the Nei Jia curriculums as we know them today came onto the scene at a later time and far closer to the common age (maybe a few hundred years old) 內 therefore entered the "internal" martial arts lexicon not as a new idea but the development of older ideas. 內 distinguishes these martial arts as something that forms "within" (nei), and not something that had an outside source, or was imbibed, or performed in the typical Taoist ceremonial fashion (wei dan)

    It may help to view it in that respect, as the alchemical arts moved from external influences to the body ("internal") itself, so did the "internal" schools of alchemy begin to emerge and flourished for about a thousand years (and establishing the baseline of Chinese medical thought), before the "internal" martial arts schools came from that. So interestingly this illustrates a cultural change of thought in how one develops "Qi"...not via strange concoctions or rituals and other esoteric practices thought to assist health, but actual exercise (dao yin), and to this day, the most obvious hall mark of Tai Chi, etc, is that it is exercise if nothing else. If you knew nothing else about it, that's what you'd probably call it if you witnessed it.

    Having not ever trained any of the arts traditionally recognized as "internal", but having heavily studied the cultural environment they developed within, I can say this that the duality of it, and the focus on the development of "qi" with regards to that, is definitely a larger issue than just martial arts, but in the context of martial arts, the dualism is actually simple, you either develop strong qi or you don't. An "internal" martial artist that has developed strong "qi" in the context of their art should be able prove it with pretty simple tests....moving a heavy boulder for instance or fighting off another person could be considered "displays of qi". Logic dictates that is exactly how the ancient Nei Jin schools would have determined someone's "qi" development. The sages who ran these schools were widely known not specifically for their "qi" per se, but whatever feats of skill or prowess they performed with them, and that is what would draw students. In the time of the emergence of internal martial arts schools in China there was still no communications, no wires, no mail. You had to learn by word of mouth who taught the best "internal boxing" around, where to find them, and you went to find them. A thousand years prior, it was more Philosopher's Stone stuff you'd have sought them out for. A big step in the right direction, at least, by the 17th century.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2015
  10. belltoller

    belltoller OffTopic MonstreOrdinaire Supporter

    Taiji would be a great place to start. Particularly as I seemed to have signed up for it.

    {Sorry for such a late response as I've been erstwhile encumbered the last month}

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