A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

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

A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

Postby LDShouler on Tue May 01, 2018 4:02 pm

Hi all,
This question leads from a previous one that I asked on another thread: is it possible to encapsulate 'internal' systems into a roughly common syllabus/common theory, with the intention of creating a clear focus for faster martial development; i.e. are there core elements that unite all of these disciplines that could be taught in a refined way using modern teaching methodology? I studied yi chuan for a few years, and often heard of Wang's ideas of the unification/simplification of internal arts...I just wondered who had any thoughts on the notion.
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Re: A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

Postby LDShouler on Tue May 01, 2018 4:25 pm

Or, of course, the inverse: are they all so unique that there can be no useful crossover and so no 'unifying theory'?
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Re: A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

Postby aiasthewall on Tue May 01, 2018 4:48 pm

I think that's a great question, something I have been thinking about. You would have to define clearly what you mean by internal first, which is a can of worms but I don't think it's impossible.

You would have to define things like: is dantien used in internal, is use if dantien a necessary and sufficient cause for being included in the category? Intent? The kuas? Is there an internal type of body connection and force that doesn't use dantien? How are these specifically used and trained? If different in different arts are there essential commonalities? If they are trained and used differently should they be called different things?

It would be a fascinating subject, I don't think you'll have much luck on this site as whenever the subject gets to specific methods of training one of several things happen: it's secret information; people cannot agree in common definitions; people misunderstand each other.
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Re: A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

Postby Interloper on Tue May 01, 2018 4:50 pm

Hm. That's a tough one, because there are a number of arts and systems that can all be said to be "internal," but they don't all share the exact same "package" of internal qualities. Some may be missing an element or two that another system has. And, even if there is some overlap, or two arts may share all of the same principles and concepts, they may express and utilize them in very different ways -- which is what makes different arts look and feel different from each other (e.g. bagua, taichi, xingyi, etc.)

That said, if they are all indeed using the same basic method, IMO you can integrate and incorporate application ideas from each. A lot of taichi masters sent their students to learn from a bagua teacher, a xingyi teacher, and vice-versa. In the Japanese arts, the same thing happened. There were Daito ryu students who snuck off to train with Wang Shuchin, and sword students who went to study Daito ryu, in hopes of gaining the power and efficacy of internal methods that they could integrate and apply within their own "home" arts.

Some of the best arts today are amalgams of several different arts or systems that have an underlying power-structure-body method that is the same or close to it. The shared physical principles and qualities of body movement were compatible; hence, the arts could be merged and clarified into something which was new, and yet drew its substance and strengths from some very ancient and well-tried sources. :)
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Re: A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

Postby windwalker on Tue May 01, 2018 5:25 pm

LDShouler wrote:Or, of course, the inverse: are they all so unique that there can be no useful crossover and so no 'unifying theory'?


Try viewing it through the lens of physics.
This will mitigate most of the confusion due to either cultural or language interpretations.

If one can do what is demoed said to representative of internal work using another way to explain it, is it?
Last edited by windwalker on Tue May 01, 2018 5:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

Postby oragami_itto on Tue May 01, 2018 5:45 pm

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Re: A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

Postby windwalker on Tue May 01, 2018 5:46 pm

aiasthewall wrote:I think that's a great question, something I have been thinking about. You would have to define clearly what you mean by internal first, which is a can of worms but I don't think it's impossible.


Why would one need to define it and not use it from the culture from which it came from. I really have not found it to be true that those from within the culture from which these ideas come from disagree on what they mean how they're used.
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Re: A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

Postby wayne hansen on Tue May 01, 2018 5:52 pm

First we have to agree what is internal
Plenty of arts these days are claiming to be internal
Many have less aspects of internal training than many external arts
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Re: A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

Postby Steve James on Tue May 01, 2018 7:07 pm

Aw, fergit internal. First, you'd need someone able enough in the arts in order to be able to combine them. Otoh, if it's the internal part that will be combined, then it doesn't really matter the art. I.e., it's like sculpting a statue. Do you start with a frame and build out, or do you start with a block and chisel away the excess?

Imo, even when it comes to SLT, each art expresses internal/external in its own way. Sun was fortunate enough to know masters from whom he could absorb the "essence" of their arts. If it were possible to express these essential qualities simultaneously, only someone like SLT would be able to do it. Imho, of course, and I'm sure there are those whose teachers do all that and more. I'm not saying it's impossible. I am saying that it's unnecessary. One teacher I had also said that anyone who thinks he does two martial arts is just fooling himself. My take on what he meant is that when the proverbial feces hits the ventilator, you will do one thing. What that is will be a product of your training and/or past experience.

That goes double after one gets hit.:)
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Re: A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

Postby klonk on Tue May 01, 2018 7:42 pm

I see one thing that would work. It is less ambitious than what you propose. Create a short-course curriculum. It should be teachable in days or weeks, not months or years. This to contain: clear instructions that produce a few clear (clearly internal) results. All it needs to do is show internal effects in two or three ways that are clearly different to muscling your way through their demonstration (using the obvious external muscles).

Wang Xiangzhai's trouble was he went for a Grand Unified Theory of impinging force and reaction, a body method that would be the right answer to any question. I think he succeeded but transmitting it looks to have been more of a problem than he thought. How many people today really grok yiquan?

What I am thinking here is that once people have caught on by way of a few clear examples they will more readily generalize to other uses of atypical muscle recruitment. When I was learning to read, my teachers started me on short easy words.
I define internal martial art as unusual muscle recruitment and leave it at that. If my definition is incomplete, at least it is correct so far as it goes.
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Re: A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

Postby wayne hansen on Tue May 01, 2018 8:07 pm

I like the one about anyone thinking they are doing two arts fooling themselves
They are in most cases doing less than one art
Take a look at those claiming knowledge of Sun style with limited training
And that applies to many arts
I chuan is a prime example
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Re: A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

Postby C.J.W. on Tue May 01, 2018 8:13 pm

To me, the word "synthesis" doesn't really apply when it comes to IMAs.

I tend to think of all IMA styles as different expressions of the same set of baseline body skills with various outward appearances due to differing focuses in usage.

So if you've really developed a solid foundation (i.e., acquired the baseline body skills) through practicing one particular IMA system, adding another to your arsenal is simply a matter of learning how to use what you've already got in a slightly adjusted way.

In other words, combining IMA systems into one is more about "adjustment" and "adaptation" as opposed to synthesis.
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Re: A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

Postby yeniseri on Tue May 01, 2018 9:53 pm

Liuhebafa is stated to be a 'synthesis' of internal arts.
I do not believe it but it is stated as such since I have rarely seen any expression of skill by its exponents. I also realize that effective CMA all possess liuhebafa as patterns of training and expression thereof. ???
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Re: A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

Postby klonk on Tue May 01, 2018 10:06 pm

Sun Lutang thought he had it but missed the brass ring.
Last edited by klonk on Tue May 01, 2018 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I define internal martial art as unusual muscle recruitment and leave it at that. If my definition is incomplete, at least it is correct so far as it goes.
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Re: A 'synthesis' of internal arts?

Postby klonk on Tue May 01, 2018 10:16 pm

The presence of a global moderation threat advises me to tread lightly.

Could I have a clarification on what is allowed?
I define internal martial art as unusual muscle recruitment and leave it at that. If my definition is incomplete, at least it is correct so far as it goes.
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