Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Postby C.J.W. on Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:30 pm

While they are undeniably related, I believe that physical prowess and athleticism are very often confused with skill, especially by laymen.

Many people are dazzled by displays of physical prowess and athleticism (e.g., lifting heavy weights, breaking hard objects, doing push-ups/pull-ups/handstand with fingers, having a muscular body, etc) that appear to be associated with martial arts practice and combat readiness, but I do not consider them as skill -- especially from the perspective of internal arts.



For me, skill lies in very specific and precise ways of utilizing the human body to generate power, stability, and speed in ways that are ABNORMAL to the way that an average person moves.


Physical prowess and athleticism, on the other hand, focus on STRENGTHENING AND REINFORCING the natural movement patterns of a human being.


P.S. This distinction, by the way, is also how I view the divide between the external and the internal. ;)
Last edited by C.J.W. on Wed Apr 11, 2018 8:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Postby RobP3 on Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:15 am

What would be interesting would be to see a good example of someone using abnormal movement skills to overcome an athletic person using strong, natural movement patterns
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Re: Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Postby HotSoup on Thu Apr 12, 2018 1:43 am

C.J.W. wrote:Physical prowess and athleticism, on the other hand, focus on STRENGTHENING AND REINFORCING the natural movement patterns of a human being.


Well, what's "natural"? Does everything what our body is capable of count as "natural"? If yes, why then IMA require you to re-learn how to move "naturally"? Is it the same "naturalness"? If no, why? We "naturally" got all these capabilities from the "nature", after all :D

To the topic, though, at least some athleticism is required for any physical activity, including IMA. If one doesn't have any "Li" to be led by "Qi", the whole thing won't work ;)
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Re: Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Postby Franklin on Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:03 am

all of the good "external" practitioners that I have been lucky enough to come in contact with
have had as good "internal" or better "internal" qualities as the best "internal practitioners that i have been lucky to come in contact with...

I don't see any real divide between "internal" and "external" styles...
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Re: Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Postby wiesiek on Thu Apr 12, 2018 2:11 am

..."For me, skill lies in very specific and precise ways of utilizing the human body to generate power, stability, and speed in ways that are ABNORMAL to the way that an average person moves.


Physical prowess and athleticism, on the other hand, focus on STRENGTHENING AND REINFORCING the natural movement patterns of a human being.


P.S. This distinction, by the way, is also how I view the divide between the external and the internal. ;)..."

ha,
very unusual approach, I would say
as Rob, I love to see an example...

For me, real skilz shows in RESPONSE for incoming force .
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Re: Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Postby Trick on Thu Apr 12, 2018 3:21 am

Wasn't that the thing once in China, that KungFu men bested Russian Strongmen
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Re: Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Postby marvin8 on Thu Apr 12, 2018 7:14 am

C.J.W. wrote:While they are undeniably related, I believe that physical prowess and athleticism are very often confused with skill, especially by laymen.

Many people are dazzled by displays of physical prowess and athleticism (e.g., lifting heavy weights, breaking hard objects, doing push-ups/pull-ups/handstand with fingers, having a muscular body, etc) that appear to be associated with martial arts practice and combat readiness, but I do not consider them as skill -- especially from the perspective of internal arts.

I agree that they are different. Examples of physical attributes: power, speed and endurance.

C.J.W. wrote:For me, skill lies in very specific and precise ways of utilizing the human body to generate power, stability, and speed in ways that are ABNORMAL to the way that an average person moves.


Physical prowess and athleticism, on the other hand, focus on STRENGTHENING AND REINFORCING the natural movement patterns of a human being.


P.S. This distinction, by the way, is also how I view the divide between the external and the internal. ;)

I still see abnormal power and speed as physical attributes. Power and speed decreases as one gets older. Even at a younger age, there is always someone bigger, stronger and faster than you. Martial arts skills are supposed to give one the ability to overcome or defend against an athletic opponent with lesser skills. There is a saying, “Precision beats power and timing beats speed.” A skilled fighter can overcome an opponent—who only has greater power and speed.

Here are what can be considered some learned fighting skills: listening, neutralize, deception, control, setup, strategy, technique, timing, distance, positioning, rhythm, dynamic balance, accuracy and weight shifting.

Would you agree with these? Or, how would you add to or change them?
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Re: Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Postby C.J.W. on Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:36 am

RobP3 wrote:What would be interesting would be to see a good example of someone using abnormal movement skills to overcome an athletic person using strong, natural movement patterns


Isn't that what you guys do in Systema? ;)
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Re: Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Postby RobP3 on Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:46 am

C.J.W. wrote:
RobP3 wrote:What would be interesting would be to see a good example of someone using abnormal movement skills to overcome an athletic person using strong, natural movement patterns


Isn't that what you guys do in Systema? ;)


:) Oh we're very much about keeping things as natural and straightforward as possible ;D
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Re: Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Postby Bhassler on Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:39 am

What is an "average" person? How do they move? How do you know that's how they move? What's different, then, about other movement that makes it "abnormal"?

How do you define a skill? All voluntary movement is learned, with the possible exceptions of sucking and gripping. So what differentiates a special "trained skill" from "regular" movement?

Not trying to be a dick for being a dick's sake, but there are a lot of holes and assumptions in the provided definitions of things.
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Re: Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Postby everything on Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:12 pm

RobP3 wrote:What would be interesting would be to see a good example of someone using abnormal movement skills to overcome an athletic person using strong, natural movement patterns


dunno about fighting but prime Iniesta did this all the time.
amateur practices til gets right pro til can't get wrong
/ better approx answer to right q than exact answer to wrong q which can be made precise /
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Re: Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Postby Steve James on Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:07 pm

Well, natural implies something that is like nature. Imo, when the term is used to discuss martial arts movement, all of them are abnormal. The word sought might be unnatural, but then there's a problem. Why would anyone want Antifa to move unnaturally? Obviously, because it was more effective. I think of a tiger. Would unnatural movements ever make it more effective? I think that people really mean "untrained" when they say "natural" in this context. It's the difference between a cub and an experienced adult.

Being relaxed, otoh, is not nature for a human adult. A child might stay relaxed because he doesn't know any better. Adults have to train hard to regain that naturalness. However, it becomes formidable when combined with an adult's street and skill.
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Re: Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Postby willie on Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:30 pm

[quote="C.J.W. ] [ VS ]
it doesn't have to be verses, because staying in great shape is the best thing that a human being can do for themselves.
Last edited by willie on Sat Apr 14, 2018 3:35 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Postby Rhen on Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:48 am

"hard work beats Talent when talent fails to work hard". not a big fan of people who have skill and do not train hard. most skillful at PH people i know have following traits:
1. over weight and get tired fast.
2. don't compete to save face and rice bowl.
3. teach a skewed form of martial arts. "yeah just practice standing, you'll never get tackled".
4. avoid real players at all cost.
5. talk a good game
6. have mindless followers look for magic skills.
7. have students that suck at competitions, get tired fast.
8. say that they are allergic to cardio.
9. pretend and talk like they have authentic taiji.
Last edited by Rhen on Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Physical prowess and athleticism vs. skill

Postby Wuyizidi on Wed May 30, 2018 12:41 pm

There are three separate issues here.

One, empty hand vs weapons fighting. In empty hand fighting, physical conditioning is the most decisive factor. In weapons fighting, skill is the most decisive factor. In empty hand fight, even if we land a punch on Mike Tyson, how much effect would it have on him? But if we're fighting with knives or guns, he can't afford to be touched by our attack... It's a completely different game. So in regular sports we never have men vs women, whereas in war, no one thinks he can relax because the soldier aiming the AK-47 at him from the other side is a woman.

Two, layers that makes up martial ability. Georges St-Pierre recently gave a succinct summary - one's martial prowess is like a building with 3 layers:
1. athletic: are you a good athlete, how well can you control and move your body
2. skill: a multiplier of your body's natural capabilities
3. tactic: how you apply your level 1+2 abilities in a particular situation. He gave a great example: Mike Bisping was slower than him, and cannot get him with a direct hit, so he retreated, making GSP chase him, and when GSP came in too close, he almost knocked GSP out.

The other is skill vs gongfu. Gongfu means level of execution for a particular skill.
Here someone with very high level gongfu on a low level skill (basic punch, kick) can defeat someone who is studying high level but has very low level gongfu in it. For example, the objective is to lift as much weight as possible. Person A decides to practice lifting it with just the strength of his own body. After 5 years of hard practice, he can deadlift 500 pounds. Person B says, I'm going study a different skill, I'm going to be physicist. I will eventually design machines that can lift tons of weight. First of all that's a high level skill. By definition 1) very few from the general population can get there, 2) it takes longer to get there. So until Person B becomes one of the very few who masters the skill, he can't do anything. He won't even be able to lift 250 pounds. If you have a competition between your average 4 year Crossfitter vs 4th year physics student, who's going to be able to lift more weight by their chosen approach?

That's essentially the gamble for people pursuing internal martial art: if we can become one of the very few who master this radically different skill, we can do higher level things (fight people bigger, stronger, faster than us) the older approach can't. But until we get there, half-baked skill is very ineffective against someone training in the other approach (which is more immediately usable).
Last edited by Wuyizidi on Wed May 30, 2018 12:48 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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