Internal Arts

In the 70’s I did a lot of training in Boston with some pretty big names in the internal arts community Yang Jwing Ming who was also an acupuncturist and herbs, Chan Poi 41 generation Shaolin and Leuang Ke Chi. from Chen Village.
This is like the Gracies,, GSP and the Randy’s of the MMA world…..Big names.

I was curious for both health and combat. Hsing yi, Tai Chi and Bague were the systems and Chen Tai Chi was my personal favorite followed by Yang Tai Chi.

Most internal training was accompanied with external training Kung Fu my style was Northern praying mantis, but I also dabbled in 15 or 20 more, give or take a few.

The progression of learning was no different then learning boxing or wrestling. The more time you put in with the top teaches/coaching the more insight and refined you become.

The 20 years I put in was in no way a waist of time. Personally I got a great deal and truly developed and understanding and appreciation of the roots of the traditional arts. I even opened up a school.

People were asking about the effectiveness of these arts in the context of perhaps the sport of MMA and whether or not any of it can be used in a functional way. And the answer is “Yes “ it is being done all the time. Most MMA guys don’t see it and neither do most in general because they don’t know what they are looking for and the guys who have only been training the internal arts for 3-4 years or so don’t know what to look for either because they are only in the early stages and are still stuck in the forms part of training. So just because you don’t recognize anything doesn’t mean it’s not there.

 What I do for myself,and what I recommend for people who want no frills quickly learned fighting skills are two different things. I enjoy the arts as a physical activity,and many of the recent threads on this forum have lead me back into things I enjoy.

I enjoy the internal arts and have been playing with them almost exclusively for the last 2-3 years. The trick is to get away from forms training and to practice the principles of them with resistance.

example, I had been in a Shotokan school( I cross trained with jkd, judo, etc) for over a decade. The teachers also required one to know a tai chi form, a bagua form and some others so that one was "well rounded." The trouble was that the students were basically shotokan people who were doing internal forms without understanding or practice drills of those internal MA.
Its when I started playing with Dr. Yangs stuff and now a MA called I-Liq, that I really started to see the strength of the internal stuff.
The training process was that I was forced to learn how the body can move, create power and apply it against others.
Now that I am becoming more familiar with different engines that work in the internal arts I play with my shotokan friends and little lights go off when applying techniques.

It does help though to have a background in doing throws, locks and the such...the tai chi/I liq stuff is a natural platform for those.

Interesting topic. Wonder if UG'er SHOOTER will see this thread? Actually, it's been some time since I've been on UG, not sure if he's still on. Years ago, he was.

He is an Internal MAist who has competed in NHB/MMA. With the Internal MA, it teaches you to relax... Boxing and almost all MA teach that you generate more power and be faster if you relax. But sadly, most MAists hear "Internal MA" and think Dragonball Chi Blasts.

A few years back I got a call asking if I did push hands@ my school? I said yes but I don't do it the traditional way I add other elements. The man said he did to and maybe he could stop by and we can push, I said sure. Then he asked me if I heard of so and so the national push hands champ, I told him yeah and he said he can hold his on with him. Sincerely I said that's great. One more time he asked, but you push right , I said ya but not the average way.

3-4 months later he showed up unannounced right before class . 6'3 235lbs lanky. I didn't know who he was, then he reminded me of our talk. I was glad he finally stopped in. He said he wanted to push hands I said sure why don't you come by when I have time because of class and folks were coming and stretching out right now. Nope!!! he wanted to do it now.

I know how the slandered push hands is done and I know it is limited but I didn't want to lose a potential student so I tried to avoid the inevitable. But he was dead set on testing his shit out. Can't blame him. So he did,

We got in our little designated positions touch hands and started playing. He found my center pushed and off balanced me so I would step out of the little circle. Yup standard pushing. I smiled and said, nice but that's not how we do it ...? In a tone he said, well why don't you show me how you do it....ok...;-)
Got in position touch hands and I bum rushed, clinch , take down, mount, armbar. In the time it took me to right this....;-)
WOW!!!, yeah I told you we don't push like most. Do you want to try again? Yeah, got to give him credit.
Same, same, but this time, rear choke.

Here's the scoop. I have lived in both worlds, traditional arts and the new world of MMA/RBSD so I believe I can be honest. In traditional arts the forms are to build attributes, strength, conditioning, balance etc. The 2 person sets are to develop timing distance etc You would travel to different regions to learn a variety of movement from different teachers and styles. The path of today's fighter is the same, build attributes, timing and distance and train with different coaches. But we have refined the training methods to the point where today we get better results faster.

When I say traditional arts are already in todays MMA fighters, I mean the end results are conditioned, fast, strong, good distancing and solid timing of the new world fighter. Any Shaolin Monk would be very happy with the performance of today's fighters.

With that said I am still very happy that I have such a vast reference to draw from to help achieves the final results. The old roots plus the new branches makes the fruit much sweeter.

In addition the health benefits of slow breathing and staying calm come into play in every day life from the parent loosing their cool with kids, to shooters taking aim, to controlled emotions during crisis. There is a lot to say for the internal arts, but the old way approach is just a turn of to the modern fighter and with the ego's of both the old and the new only a few will reap the benees.

 Holy Mole Stickgrappler comes outta nowhere... Where have you been...???

The slow movement is also to feel the connections from the ground. To get peng energy properly you need to feel the back muscles round out the back and the sinking of the chest to maintain the structure. You need to be able to have that structure extend down the ming men and through the legs and feet to absorb and project power.

Demitrius Barbito -  Holy Mole Stickgrappler comes outta nowhere... Where have you been...???

Hello Demi et al,

I lurk and post when I can... work is busy, real life and family is busy...

but the worst is that work implemented a new firewall... have 15 mins windows to surf to sites that are not on the restricted list but on the list where it deducts from my 'quota time'... have 4 hrs total in 15 mins windows to surf here and other sites that is not deemed social networking or gambling or others on restricted list

Hope all is well with you and your loved ones!

Very truly yours in the MA and SD,


Ttt Phone Post

Vu would say

For # 2, " practice" you have to go to the Rule of 3's and Tai Chi hits that right on the head.
3 ways to practice a technique.
1. Slow speed...Tai Chi
2. Medium speed,
3. Fast speed,

Number 1. Tai chi is what jrrrrr is talking about. Example, use the jab-cross combo. Once you learn the movement you practice slow, feel how your body moves,the connection of parts,combined with your breathing, written in old cannons " Like a string of pearls" or something like that...;-)

Once you are comfortable you go to medium speed. Note: sometime a person needs to skip the slow stuff and try it medium or even fast. Going slow or Tai Chi is harder then you think and feels so un-natural that I tell the guys to just let the combo fly, No thinking. At times this is the better way.
Regardless of when the combo becomes comfortable I find the best way eventually is to practice all 3 speeds. This will also train the student to use and understand cadence to confuse the opponent and give yourself more options.

 After giving it some thought I'm not so sure I agree that these arts have any use at all. See my other thread...

It all depends on how its being trained.
if your doing moves in the air, its use will be minimal at best.
If you train it with levels of resistance, you develop a different way of moving. I can honestly say that I've developed a better grounding in the way I move. When I play with my friends still doing shotokan I find myself able to take them off balance much better. This has translated into better opportunities for throws and locks, as well as strikes.

Its really not mystical or anything. Its about understanding your structure and developing the ability to maintain that structure under stress and using the structure to move with power.

The real problem is that initially one is not training in MA techniques. Its almost all structure training and seeing how one creates and handles power within the structure. As I already had a MA background (shotokan 2nd dan, JKD, judo/jitsu, etc) I could see where the training was taking me. If I didn't have that background I would have wondered about its use as well.

To better understand, practice standing grappling with someone. Train to keep you spine straight but with you lats curved and you chest a bit shallow (without activating you traps). Then try to take the straightness out of your opponents spine. See if that effects your stance while making it easier to throw/control your opponent(kuzushi). Start from a chi sao type range.

Basically jrrrs right. Back in the eighties I visited a class in the UK, which was a joint external/internal class. I think the style was one of the forerunners to wing chun.

I went because one of my muay thai sparring partners dropped by the class, got lippy and got knocked spark out.

The class instructor was what most people call a traditional Chinese martial artist complete with kung fu slippers but unlike the current mac dojo classes, back in 1982 his class consisted of a warm up and stretch, basic techniques, some close quarter work (clinch) and about forty minutes compulsory sparing at the boxing gym next door. Quote from him “if you train, you bang!”

The teacher, who is probably long since dead, was a cool guy and had a standing offer to fight vale tudo with any visitors.

Main pointers I took were that for a traditional class to produce open weight effective fighters, there needs to be:

A willingness to put it on the line no holds barred.

Class contains a mixture of forms, slow and fast drilling and alive training against sparring partners with intent to knock your nose into the back of your skull.

An instructor who has done all of the above and has some depth i.e. twenty years in.

A couple of extra points from the instructor:

Look after your health first.

Never stop training.

External/internal are meant to be one in the same, and only idiots separate them. One can’t exist without the other if you want to win.

Internal equals external with more depth.

Regards Richard

I enjoy doing internal arts too. I did William Chen's Yang style for several years and a friend's eclectic bagua system. I think they've got good relaxation and health benefits for any martial artist. Whether you do yoga, general physical fitness, or internal arts, most people need some kind of restorative work on their body to be able to train, especially as you get older.

From the William Chen style, I actually learned a lot about punching mechanics and how to analyze movement that I'd never seen from multiple thai boxing instructors and JKD coaches, some with substantial boxing background. I don't really use their tactics when I spar, but the mechanics/body movement skills improved my kickboxing.

I think the biggest downside for internal stuff is the amount of effort/time required to see real results. I've never seen a traditional internal style that could get someone fight ready quickly. Also, I've never met a practitioner who just did internal arts that was good. Not to say they aren't out there, but for most people they had a solid martial arts base and used it to add to their skills.

Interesting discussion

If you like 'Internal Arts', consider the following:

1. Buy Mike Sigman's "Internal Strength" vids from Plumflower press;

2. Realize that the internal arts are not (as) effective in the venue of cage fighting;

3. IA are effective in standing start venue fighting and might work off your back on the ground;

4. The use of them is 'layering' over top of a good base art, not stand alone. Same thing with any esoteric, even fighting with a handgun - you must have a base art;

5. If you do it right, the ability to fight with IA stuff (see #4) can be had in about 2 years, if you can train ground path effectively;

6. Some fighters have Fa-Jing and Peng power and don't know it. Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns? The route to development of this ability to 'sit down' into your punches is not unique to CMA;

7. The footwork of IA is somewhat BS, though I like it for meditation purposes. Moving meditation trumps seated.

8. For the best footwork see the KK people (the good ones) (Lonely Dog);

9. I like, as a fighter, guys like WIllie Pep. He won fights without hitting the opponent sheerly by outclassing the gy and making him look like a fool missing him;

10. You have to seek out the art and regime that works for you. It's really learning how to train not what to train (up to a point).