Tuesday, May 21, 2019
Gao Bagua Tiger Palm - Yi Zong School - Hui Shen Da Hu Zhang
Learn Gao Bagua Zhang at Boulder Internal Martial Arts
Sunday, May 19, 2019
Single Palm Change, hand rubbing practice (rise fall drill overturn)My teacher Marcus Brinkman - Learn Bagua Zhang at Boulder Internal Martial Arts
Friday, May 17, 2019
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Monday, May 13, 2019
Saturday, May 11, 2019
Thursday, May 9, 2019
Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Saturday, May 4, 2019
Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Monday, April 29, 2019
Friday, April 26, 2019
Taiji is round,
no matter what,
up or down,
left or right,
it never leaves
Taiji is also square,
no matter what,
up or down,
left or right,
it never leaves
Quoted from Yang Banhou’s
Taiji Principles Explained (太極法說, Tàijí Fǎ Shuō)
Trans. Scott M. Rodell
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Gao Style Bagua Zhang - Single Palm Change
Learn Gao Style Bagua Zhang at Boulder Internal Martial Arts
Monday, April 22, 2019
Saturday, April 20, 2019
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Xī qì xù jìn. Tǔqì fā quán. Xù jìn rú zhānggōng. Fā jìn shì fàng shǐ. Quánjiǎo rúshì. Dāo fǎ hé dú bùrán. Gǒu bù xī qì. Zé wú tǔqì zhī néng. Gǒu bù xù jìn. Bì wú fā jìn zhī lì. Fā jìn yào shàngxià xiāng suí. Shōu jìn yào tūntǔ xiāngyìng.
Inhaling stores internal power. Exhaling releases the fist. Store energy like drawing a bow, release energy like releasing an arrow.* Fists and feet are thus. The saber method is not any different. If one does not inhale, then one is not able to exhale. If one does not store internal power, there is certainly no power to release. To release power the upper and lower (body) must follow each other. Gathering internal energy inhale and exhale must work together.
*This line is a direct quote from the Taijiquan Classic the Insight into the Use of Thirteen Postures.
Quoted from Single Guarding Saber (單戒刀) by Jin Yiming (金一明)
Trans: Scott M. Rodell Found HERE
Saturday, April 13, 2019
AN INTRODUCTION TO BA GUA ZHANG
Ba Gua Zhang is recognized as one of the three orthodox "internal" styles of Chinese martial art (the other two being Xing Yi Quan and Tai Ji Quan). Ba Gua literally translates to Eight trigrams. These trigrams are symbols which are used to represent all natural phenomena as described in the ancient Chinese text of divination, the Book of Changes (Yi Jing). Zhang means palm and designates Ba Gua Zhang as a style of martial art, which emphasizes the use of the open hand in preference to the closed fist. Ba Gua Zhang, as a martial art, is based on the theory of continuously changing in response to the situation at hand in order to overcome an opponent with skill rather than brute force.
Although there are several theories as to the Origins of Ba Gua Zhang, recent and exhaustive research by martial scholars in Mainland China conclude without reasonable doubt that the Art is the creation of a single individual, Dong Hai Chuan. Dong was born in Wen An County, Hebei Province about 1813. Dong practiced local martial arts (which reportedly relied heavily upon the use of open hand palm techniques) from his youth and gained some notoriety as a skilled fighter. At about 40 years of age, Dong left home and traveled southward. At some point during his travels, Dong became a member of the Chuan Zhen (Complete Truth) sect of Daoism. The Daoists of this sect practiced a method of walking in a circle white reciting certain mantras. The practice was designed to quiet the mind and focus the intent as a prelude to enlightenment. Dong later combined the circle walking mechanics with the martial arts he had mastered in his youth to create a new style based on mobility and the ability to apply techniques while in constant motion (heretofore unknown in the history of Chinese martial arts).
Dong Hai Chuan originally called his art "Zhuan Zhang" (Turning Palm). In his later years, Dong began to speak of the Art in conjunction with the Eight Trigrams (Ba Gua) theory espoused in the Book of Changes (Yi Jing). When Dong began teaching his Zhuan Zhang in Beijing, he accepted as student only those who were already accomplished practitioners of other martial arts. Dong's teachings were limited to a few "palm changes" executed while walking the circle and his theory and techniques of combat. His students took Dong's forms and theories and combined them with the martial arts they had studied previously. The result is that each of Dong's students ended up with different interpretations of the Ba Gua Zhang art.
Most of the various styles of Ba Gua Zhang found today, can be traced back to one of several of Dong Hai Chuan's original students. Among these students, three individuals were responsible for passing on the Art to the greatest number of practitioners. One of Dong's most famous students was a man named Yin Fu. Yin studied with Dong longer than any other and was one of the most respected fighters in the country in his time (he was the personal bodyguard to the Dowager Empress, the highest prestige position of its kind in the entire country). Yin Fu was a master of Luo Han Quan, a Northern Chinese "external" style of boxing, before he began his long apprenticeship with Dong. Another top student of Dong's was Chen Ting Hua, originally a master of Shuai Jiao (Chinese wrestling). Cheng taught a great number of students in his time and variations of his style are many. A third student of Dong's who created his own Ba Gaa Zhang variant was Liang Zhen Pu. Liang was Dong's youngest student and was greatly influenced by Dong's other disciples. Although Ba Gua Zhang is a relatively new form of martial art, it became famous throughout China during its inventor's lifetime, mainly because of its effectiveness in combat and the high prestige this afforded its practitioners.
The basis of the various styles of Ba Gua Zhang, and the practice all styles have in common, is the circle walk. The practitioner literally walks in a circle while holding various static postures with the upper body or while executing "palm changes" (short patterns of movement or "forms" which train the body mechanics and methods of generating power which form the basis of the styles' fighting techniques).
All styles have a variation of a form known as the Single Palm Change. The Single Palm Change is the most basic form and is the nucleus of the remaining palm changes found in the Art. Besides the Single Palm Change, the other forms include the Double Palm Change and the Eight Palm Changes (also known variously as the Eight Mother Palms or the Old Eight Palms).
These forms make up the foundation of the art of Ba Gua Zhang. Ba Gua Zhang movements have a characteristic circular nature and there is a great deal of body spinning, turning, and rapid changes in direction. In addition to the Single, Double and Eight Palm Changes, most but not all styles of Ba Gua Zhang include some variation of the Sixty-Four Palms. The Sixty-Four Palms include forms which teach the mechanics and sequence of the specific fighting techniques included in the style. These forms take the general energies developed during the practice of the Palm Changes and focus them into more exact patterns of movement, which are applied directly to a specific combat technique. Ba Gua Zhang is an art based on evasive footwork and a kind of guerilla warfare strategy applied to personal combat. A Ba Gua fighter relies on strategy and skill, rather than the direct use of force against force or brute strength, in overcoming an opponent. The strategy employed is aggressive in nature and emphasizes constant change in response to the spontaneous and "live" quality of combat.
In addition to the above forms and methods, most styles of Ba Gua Zhang include various two-person forms and drills as intermediate steps between solo forms and the practice of combat techniques. Although the techniques of Ba Gua Zhang are many and various, they all adhere to the above mentioned principles of mobility and the skillful application of force. Many styles of Ba Gua Zhang also include the use of a variety of weapons, ranging from the more standard types (straight sword, broadsword, pear) to exotic weapons, used exclusively by practitioners of the Ba Gua Zhang arts.
Each of Dong Hai Chuan's students developed their own style of Ba Gua Zhang based on their individual backgrounds and previous martial training. Each style has its own specific forms and techniques. In essence, all of the different styles adhere to the basic principles of Ba Gua Zhang while retaining an individual flavor of their own. Most of the styles in existence today can trace their roots to either the Yin Fu, Cheng Ting Hua, or Liang Zhen Pu variations.
Yin Fu styles include a large number of percussive techniques and fast striking combinations (Yin Fu was said to "fight like a tiger", moving in and knocking his opponent to the ground swiftly like a tiger pouncing on its prey). The forms include many explosive movements and very quick and evasive footwork.
Cheng Ting Hua styles of Ba Gua Zhang include palm changes which are done in a smooth and flowing manner, with little display of overt power (Cheng Ting Hua's movement was likened to that of a dragon soaring in the clouds, it is said each time he turned his body, his opponent would fly away.) Popular variations of this style include the Gao Yi Sheng system, Dragon Style Ba Gua Zhang, "Swimming Body" Ba Gua Zhang, the Nine Palace System, JiangRong Qiao's style (probably the most common form practiced today) and the Sun Lu Tang style.
Liang Zhen Pu's style can be viewed as a combination of the Yin Fu and Cheng Ting Hua styles. Liang’s student, Li Zi Ming, popularized this style.
The basic focus and function of all martial arts is fighting. Since there are only so many ways humans can move in a martial context (strike, kick, push, pull, etc.), what distinguishes one style of martial art from another? Collections of techniques do not make up a style, neither does mimicking the movements of an animal, bug, or even another person constitute a style of martial arts. In the last analysis, a style of martial art is distinct and recognizable as a coherent system because it adheres to a set of specific principles.
All styles are based upon a set of fundamental principles, and every movement, technique and strategy applied or created must be in alignment with the chosen principles of that particular style. These principles define and determine the nature of a style in two major areas, namely, body use (Ti) and application (Yung). The principles of a style will determine how things are to be done. For example, the principles of one style may dictate that the muscles must be tensed at impact when throwing a punch, while another style's principles demand total relaxation throughout the blow. Practitioners of both styles are punching, but there is a qualitative difference in body use (i.e. different styles of punching).
Just as the principles of body use determine the physicality of the practitioner and the specific methods of moving and generating power, the principles of application determine the technique base as well as the fighting strategies of a particular style. The evolution of martial arts: styles have always come about this way: A student of one or more styles of martial art comes upon a new principle or organizes a set of principles in a unique way, based upon his background, experience and personal bias. The result is a new style of martial art. It is new not because the founder added a few techniques to his existing style, but rather because he changed all that he had done before to align with his newly understood principles of body use and application.
The founder of Ba Gua Zhang, Dong Hai Quan, was an expert in a Northern Chinese style of martial art akin to Long Fist, which emphasized the use of the open hand. Subsequently, Dong spent a number of years living with a group of Daoists who practiced a method of walking in a circular pattern while chanting. The practice was used as a means of reaching enlightenment. Dong later combined the circular footwork and body method learned from the Daoists with the martial arts he studied in his youth to create a new martial art, later to become known as Ba Gua Zhang. Please note that the Daoists taught Dong absolutely nothing of a martial nature; what Dong acquired from the Daoists were the principles of circular footwork and a certain method of body use. Dong modified the movements and techniques of his original form of martial art around these principles, thereby creating a new style of martial art. It is very important to understand that Ba Gua Zhang as a style of martial art is not simply a collection of forms and techniques, but rather an art based on a set of unifying principles.
Dong Hai Quan only taught established masters of the martial arts; he accepted no beginners. The training was designed to allow his students (already masters of other martial arts in their own right) to modify their original arts in accordance with the principles of Ba Gua Zhang. Because of the diverse backgrounds of Dong's original students, their resultant styles of Ba Gua Zhang may differ greatly in terms of form and technique, but all are truly styles of Ba Gua Zhang as they adhere to the underlying principles of body use and application which define Ba Gua Zhang as a unique style. There will always be room for creativity within the Ba Gua Zhang arts. As long as a movement or technique adheres to the Fundamental principles of Ba Gua Zhang, it is Ba Gua Zhang.
What are the basic principles of Ba Gua Zhang? It is helpful to divide the analysis into two major categories: principles of body use (with the primary emphasis on the ability to generate power with the body as a coherent Unit) and principles of application
The basic solo training in Ba Gua Zhang is designed to teach the practitioner how to control his or her momentum and timing in order to generate power with the entire body mass as a coherent unit. In the Chinese martial arts, this type of power is referred to as whole body power (Zheng Ti Jing). Whole body power enables the practitioner to issue force from any part of the body with the support of all other parts. Each part of the body coordinates with every other, generating the maximum amount of power available relative to the individual's size and weight. Whole body power is applied in all categories of Ba Gua Zhang techniques, striking, kicking, grappling and throwing.
In order to create whole body power in the Ba Gua Zhang format, as well as to facilitate the agile and evasive footwork utilized in the Art, all styles of Ba Gua Zhang emphasize complete physical relaxation, correct skeletal alignment, natural movements which are in harmony with the body's inborn reflexes and inherent design and that all movements are directed by the intent.
It is the fighting strategy of Ba Gua Zhang which most sets it apart from all other styles of martial art. Dong Hai Quan's unique background and combat experience, combined with his talent, resulted in a strategy of personal combat that had remained undiscovered in the preceding millennia of martial development in China. Basically, Ba Gua Zhang fighting theory advocates the complete avoidance of opposing power with power and adopts a kind of guerilla warfare mentality. The Ba Gua Zhang fighter continuously seeks to avoid the apex of the opponent's force and attacks or counterattacks from the opponent's weak angles. By circling around and circumventing incoming force and resistance, the Ba Gua Zhang fighter applies his own whole body power from a position of superiority This strategy allows the smaller and weaker fighter to apply maximum force from an angle at which the larger and stronger opponent cannot resist, effectively making the weaker fighter more powerful at that moment (for example, I have 10 units of total strength and my opponent has 20. I attack with my full 10 units of strength at an angle at which my opponent is only able to use 5 units of his total strength. I am, at that moment, literally twice as strong as my opponent).
In order to obtain a superior position, the Ba Gua Zhang fighter applies the basic strategies trained in the solo forms' practice, that is, circling around the opponent or rotating the opponent around oneself. The result is the same in both cases. The Ba Gua Zhang fighter avoids a head to head confrontation with the opponent's power and obtains a superior position from which to attack. Along the way, the opponent often becomes entangled in the Ba Gua Zhang fighter's limbs and loses control of his center of balance (correctly applied momentum overcomes brute strength every time). This loss of balance causes a commensurate loss of power and further weakens the opponent, leaving him vulnerable to the Ba Gun Zhang fighter's attack. Finally, the relaxed physical and mental state of the Ba Gua Zhang fighter makes it possible for him to change and adapt as the situation demands. His movements are spontaneous and difficult to predict. Fighters of all disciplines agree that the unpredictable fighter is the hardest to beat (especially when he circles behind you!). FOUND HERE
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Sunday, April 7, 2019
Friday, April 5, 2019
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Bagua's carry and lead concept with three ranges of movement
My teacher Marcus Brinkman - Learn Internal Kung Fu at Boulder Internal Martial Arts
Monday, April 1, 2019
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Thursday, March 28, 2019
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Zuìgāo yuánlǐ zé biànhuà wúqióng, hū kāi hū hé, shōu bì rúyì, zhānqiángùhòu, zuǒyòu xiāng pàn, gāo lái dī tiāo, dī lái gāo diǎn, wú zōng kě zhuī, wú jì kě xún, tiāndì guó qīn shī wǔháng bìng jì, ruò tàijí zhī bāoluó, rú liùhé zhī fàngzòng, jiàn bùguò nǎo, zìgǔ yǐrán, wú yǐ jiàn zuò dāo zhì yí fāng jiā zhī xiào, hòu zhī xuézhě qí miǎn zhī zāi.
The highest principle is limitless variation. Suddenly opening, suddenly closing, sealing closed as one likes. Attentive forward and back, left and right. (Attacked) high, (respond with) spring cut from below. (Attacked) low, (respond with) pointing cut from above. (Leave) no track that can be chased, no trace to be sought. Heaven and earth, country, family, and teacher (representing the five elements), work together, as the taiji principle embraces everything, is as the six directions are unrestrained. The jian does not pass over the head. Since ancient times, this was already so. Using the jiàn like a saber will cause learned men to laugh, students are encouraged to study properly.
Quoted from the Zǐwǔ Sword (子午劍), by Huáng Hànxūn (黃漢勛), 1958
Trans.- Scott M. Rodell
Trans.- Scott M. Rodell
Notes and Commentary-
In the first line, biànhuà wúqióng is translated as limitless variation. A more common and literal translation might be transform or change endlessly. Given that an essential element of jiànfǎ is versatility, especially the ability to adapt effortlessly to changing conditions, applying a wide variety of techniques and strategies, limitless variation fits the context. The lines that provide responses to receiving blows from above and below, mention two basic cuts common to different systems of jiànfǎ. When receiving a high line cut, the text gives tiāo as the response, and provides diǎn as an answer to a low line attack. Given that are other possible responses to both actions from one’s duìfāng, the author likely chose these examples to stress one common strategy in jiànfǎ. That strategy is to open a door, i.e. invite an attack, then allowing the duìfāng to make his or her intention clear, intercept that action with a cut to the sword arm. Zhuāngzi describes, "The art of the jiàn is to deliberately expose a weakness, giving the enemy the impression they have the opportunity to attack. Your hand moves after the enemy, but your jiàn strikes first,” (夫為劍者，示之以虛，開之以利，後之以發，先之以至). Concerning leaving no track or trace for your duìfāng to follow, if one gives up oneself and follows others, there is no track for the duifang to find and follow.
More than one classic of jiànfǎ ends with a line mentioning that wielding the sword like a saber would cause laughter amongst the immortals or learned men. Two examples are the Tàijí Jiàn Gē (太極劍歌) and the Hòu Jiàn Jué (後劍訣). By mimicking these classics, Huáng Hànxūn, author of the Zǐwǔ Sword, is demonstrating his knowledge of these earlier works.
The name of this sword system is an interesting choice. Zǐ and wǔ refer to two of the twelve times of the day, namely midnight and noon, and imply an ebb and flow between yin and yang. This idea fits nicely with the manner in which the jiàn is wielded. Zǐwǔxiàn (子午線) also refers to the central line of the body which the swordsman looks to control with the way he or she deflects and cuts.
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Friday, March 22, 2019
"The art of the jian is to
expose a weakness,
giving the enemy the
impression they have
the opportunity to attack.
Your hand moves after the enemy,
but your jian strikes first."
Trans. Scott M. Rodell
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
In October 1928 three Chinese generals, Zhang Zhi Jiang (张之江), Li Lie Jun (李烈鈞) and Li Jing Lin (李景林) organized the first public full contact competition in China. The purpose of the competition was to select qualified teachers for the newly founded Central Kuoshu Institute (中南國術館),
Sunday, March 17, 2019
Bagua Zhang - Push Hands
My teacher Marcus Brinkman - Learn Internal Kung Fu at Boulder Internal Martial Arts
Friday, March 15, 2019
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Monday, March 11, 2019
Saturday, March 9, 2019
Thursday, March 7, 2019
Jiàn qì rú hóng jiàn xíng shì lóng
jiàn shén hé yī xuánmiào wúqióng
Guǎng Píng Yáng Chéngfǔ tí
The sword’s qì is as a rainbow, the sword moves like a dragon.
Sword and spirit meet as one, its profundity is boundless.
Yang Chengfu of Guangping
translation by Scott Rodell
Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Saturday, March 2, 2019
Bagua Zhang - Snake Palm Training - Carsten Stausberg
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Sunday, February 24, 2019
Friday, February 22, 2019
Introduction There has been a great deal of discussion over whether a martial art is internal or external, and the differences between the two. Most people familiar with Chinese martial art probably associate the internal with exercises for health, softness and "chi," and associate the external with strength, hardness and fighting. We should start by defining the criteria which qualify an art as internal or external. It is very popular today to talk about internal martial arts as being methods of cultivating the chi (intrinsic energy), whereas external martial arts favor building physical strength.
The first question is, "What exactly is chi?" And once we have come to what we believe is an adequate definition, the next question should deal with the relationship chi has to martial ability. Finally, we come back to the question of why internal martial arts would cultivate chi in some way that external martial arts do not. The point is, both internal and external martial arts talk about chi development; saying a martial art is internal because it "has chi" is not valid. The difficulty in defining chi has led some martial artists to conclude that chi doesn't exist at all, therefore there is no difference between internal and external martial arts. But there definitely is a difference, and it does not depend on whether or not one believes in chi.
Let's put aside the whole question of chi and talk about similarities and differences among the three orthodox internal styles (as representatives of internal styles in general) and external martial arts from a more tangible point of view. Let's compare and contrast the martial arts from the standpoint of body mechanics, mindset, and application. The real difference between the internal and external martial arts is not chi, softness/hardness, or which is better for health; rather, it boils down to how specific movements are done in a particular mindset, and how these apply to real fights.
The internal myth
The orthodox internal martial arts, namely Xing Yi Quan, Tai Ji Quan and Ba Gua Zhang , have all incorporated Taoist techniques of breathing, meditation and medical theory into their methods of power, development (nei kung) and fighting movements. Although the resultant arts are superior as systems of health cultivation and physical development, health was not the primary concern of the developers of these styles. The primary focus of any martial art is, by definition, martial. The wedding of Taoist practices and martial technique came about because the masters felt movement in accordance with natural principles performed in a meditative state of mind was the quickest way of realizing the goal of absolute potential as a martial artist (fighter).
For centuries, China has had a great variety of therapeutic chi kung and related health systems that are equally as effective as the internal martial arts for restoring, maintaining and improving one's health, and are far simpler to learn and practice than the internal styles. There was no need to invent complex and often extremely physically demanding martial arts to fulfill the same purpose. Although the internal martial arts may be practiced solely as exercises for physical fitness, they were not created with this goal in mind. The internal martial arts were developed for fighting, with their health benefits more or less side effects of training for martial ability.
Body mechanics: An overview
The most basic and important difference between internal and external martial arts is the method of generating power or "jing" (manifest energy). At the root fundamental level, the most important factor which qualifies an art as internal is the use of what the Chinese call "complete," "unified" or "whole body" power (jengjing). This means the entire body is used as a singular unit with the muscles of the body in proper tone according to their function (relaxed, meaning neither too tense nor too slack). Power is generated with the body as a singular unit, and the various types of energies (jing) used are all generated from this unified power source.
The external martial arts, although engaging the body as a whole in generating power sequentially, do not use the body in a complete unit as do the internal martial arts. The external styles primarily use "sectional power" (ju bu li), which is a primary reason they are classified apart from the internal arts. A variation of this sectional power in the external arts is the special development of one part of the body as a weapon (iron palm, iron broom, etc.). The internal tends to forego these methods in favor of even development of the whole body, which m turn is used as a coherent unit.
Xing Yi Quan, Tai Ji Quan and Ba Gua Zhang all have unified body motion as their root; hence, they are internal styles. However, since each of these styles emphasizes different expressions of this unified power, they are not the same style.
Xing Yi Chuan
Xing Yi Chuan provides perhaps the easiest example of the principle of unified movement in action, as motion is stripped to its bare efficient essentials. Traditional five-element based Xing Yi Quan was created on static posture training (Zhan Zhuang). The primary purpose of these postures is to train the feeling of connectedness into the brain and nervous system, as it is easier to cultivate this feeling standing still than moving. One stands until whole body unity becomes the natural state. Only after this has been achieved does the student slowly begin to move while paying attention to maintaining this unity in motion. Typically, a single move such as splitting (Pi Quan) will be practiced exclusively and repeatedly for several months until the student understands bow to move the body without losing its dynamic unity. Once the student "gets the feeling" with a single form, other forms can more quickly be mastered.
Because the ancient Xing Yi Quan masters knew that using the body in a unified manner produced the greatest amount of power, they developed five basic movements (the five elements) which allow one to issue power (fa jing) in a unified manner. These movements are splitting (issuing power downward), crushing (issuing power straight forward), drilling (issuing power upward), pounding (issuing power outward) and crossing (issuing power inward). The developers of Xing Yi Quan saw these five basic variations of unified power as covering the range of motions useful to fighting. Hie 12 animal forms of the style are further elaborations and variations of the five original "themes". The simple beauty and profundity of the art of Xing Yi Quan as an internal boxing style is in its logical development from a single principle, using the body in a unit, to the basic energies that can be generated from this unit, the five elements, to the further elaboration of these five basic energies into the 12 animal forms.
Tai Ji Quan
In the first passage of the Tai Ji Classics, Jang San Peng (the legendary founder of Tai Ji Quan) states that the body must be light and agile, and that it must be connected throughout (gwan chwan). This is the basis of Tai Ji Quan as a martial art. The most basic energy of this art is the ward off energy (peng jing). Ills energy is the same as using the body as a unit. As the masters say, "No peng jing, no martial art." The reference here is not to the actual technique of ward off from the forms, but rather to the ward off energy that must permeate the whole body connecting it with unified power, from which all subsequent variations in power are based.
The basic postural requirements for Tai Ji Quan practice (head floating up, shoulders sunk, chest lifted) are the physical prerequisites of unified body power. As in the other internal styles, the student begins by standing in static postures for a considerable length of time to cultivate the body's peng jing body before singular postures are practiced and mastered one at a time. Single technique practice (dan ba lian) and issuing power (fa Jing) are practiced until all the various postures of Tai Ji Quan can be executed with whole body power. Finally, the student is taught to link the postures into a continuous sequence that trains sensitivity to postural changes (listening energy or tingjing) and the ability to flow from one technique to the next without disconnecting the body. One of the fundamental reasons most Tai Ji Quan forms are practiced slowly is 'so the student can constantly adjust and monitor the body to make sure it is always moving in a unit. This is much easier to feel moving slowly than quickly.
Eventually, the student develops the body into a strong, supple unit which allows the frame to act as a spring against the ground (jyc di jr Ii), enabling the boxer to absorb incoming energy and rebound it into the opponent This type of power is impossible unless the body is always maintained in a unit, just as a spring is one continuous thread of steel
Ba Gua Zhang
Although there are much older versions of Ba Gua Zhang, most of the variations of the art found today can be traced back to Dong Hai Chuan, who taught during the last years of the Ching dynasty. Dong Hai Chuan already was an accomplished martial artist before he learned the Ba Gua circling method of the Taoist school. As with the other internal styles, Ba Gua Zhang training begins with singular movements which develop unified power. Next, the student progresses to holding various postures while walking in a circle, Here again, the primary purpose of these exercises is to train the body to maintain a balanced unity in motion. Once the basic movements have been mastered and the student can walk the circle to complete the eight basic palm changes with unified body power, the necessary groundwork has been laid for martial application.
Just as the Xing Yi Quan masters developed the five elements to represent the basic ways power may be produced and applied from the foundation of unified motion, the Ba Gua Zhang masters created the single palm change. The single palm change includes all the basic energies and footwork used in Ba Gua Zhang as a martial art. The single palm change, double palm change and eight mother palm changes are not fighting techniques in themselves, but rather methods of developing whole body power to be used in separate fighting techniques created around these basic types of power.
Although the three orthodox internal styles have very different movements, they all developed from the same fundamental principle of using the body in a unit. This is why, from a body mechanics point of view, these arts are classified as internal.
External martial arts
Although body mechanics and movements of external martial arts may vary greatly from style to style, the major difference between these and the internal styles is that external styles, while generating power through the coordination of the body as a whole, lack unity of motion in the internal arts sense. For example, many external martial arts strike using the power of the waist and upper body from the base of a stable stance, the blow would be relaxed during delivery, then tightened for an instant at impact This type of strike is capable of generating a great amount of power, with the force being produced mainly by the waist and striking limb. This whipping of a limb and tensing at impact is referred to as "sectional power" ju bu li) and differs from the whole body power of internal martial arts.
The sequence of training in external martial arts also differs in purpose. In the early stages of training, external martial arts place greater emphasis on increasing strength and endurance as the "raw material" to be refined later into precise technique. Whereas the goal of internal style stance training is to train the nervous system into the feeling of a unified body, the external martial artist stands to increase the strength, endurance and flexibility. As a consequence, external stance training is usually lower and wider than that of the internal. Although an oversimplification, it may be said that the internal martial artist stands to cultivate feeling, while the external martial artist stands to develop strength.
External martial artists often spend considerable time conditioning specific areas of the body, either to withstand impact or to increase sectional power. An external martial artist may especially condition the head, fists, elbows, shoulders, fingers, or emphasize a specific movement, resulting in the development of a specialized weapon. This is another example of the development of sectional power in the external martial arts. Once the martial artist has a strong foundation, form and technique training begins. Once again, the forms and techniques emphasized in external styles are designed around the sectional power developed through basic training.
Mindset of the martial arts
Another major difference between internal and external martial arts is in the approach they take to training the mind. The internal places great emphasis on mind/body unity. The Taoists realized that a relaxed body controlled by a quiet mind produced a holistic entity, capable of fulfilling its potential. At the outset of training, the internal arts place the greatest emphasis on refining and training the nervous system to control the body. In contrast, most external styles emphasize increasing strength and endurance (external power) as the base upon which martial technique will be built. Students of the internal, through mind/body unity, seek to balance the nervous and hormonal systems, thereby producing a power from within the body (nei jing or internal power). The unified power is completely dependent upon fine neuromuscular control, which is completely mentally directed. The internal martial arts also talk at great length about practicing with a quiet mind. It is often quoted that, "There should be stillness in movement," and internal martial artists seek to remain calm in spirit as they move. One of the primary reasons internal martial arts are good for health is that one may simultaneously exercise the body and rest the mind.
Turning to external martial arts, much less emphasis is placed on a quiet mindset. In many external styles, cultivation of a state the Chinese call the "killing air" (sha qi) is preferred. The spirit is raised and directed outwardly toward the opponent, rather than inwardly, much like athletes "psyching up" before an event. An externally observable manifestation of the different mindsets is apparent in the facial expressions of the individual practitioner: the external martial artist often shouts and grimaces fiercely, while the internal boxer looks calm and may even be faintly smiling during a fight.
The third major difference between the internal and external martial arts is in how they are applied to a live opponent, as well as the various methods of training martial application. The students of both schools first develop their power, balance, feeling and body mechanics from solo training. The next step is to bridge the gap between form and function. This type of training will be determined mainly by a particular school's theories of combat. The internal schools stress sticking to, following and going with the opponent's power, borrowing energy, the avoidance of force against force directly, and the issuing of power only after one has "the right opportunity and advantageous position." External styles vary greatly in theory (some following principles almost identical to the internal), but in general, whereas an external stylist may punch through his opponent's defenses, the internal stylist never fully issues his power until he has the opponent in an unbalanced position either physically or spatially.
Most internal styles also have some variation of "push hands" practice. The primary purpose of pushing bands is to develop "listening energy" (ting jing) or become sensitive to outside pressure from the opponent in relation to one's own balance. Finally, both internal and external martial artists practice footwork drills, repeated single-technique practice, issuing power on a live opponent, and eventually free sparring to develop practical fighting skill.
This article has shown the similarities and differences among the three orthodox internal styles of Chinese martial art and external styles in general. It's clear that external and internal styles are indeed different, in theory, practice and application, and the factors that classify an art as either internal of external are clear-cut and concrete. This classification of an art as either internal or external is based solely on adherence in practice and use to a specific set of principles, and not on particular forms or posturing. It is important to remember that all arts, both internal and external, were originally intended for fighting. Finally, no judgment as to the superiority of one art over another is intended. After all, any martial art is only theory until a human being moves, and the value of any art lies ultimately in the skill and understanding of the individual artist.