Singapore Tai Chi Chuan

The Real Internal Skill? 2

Original post here.

Every style has its outstanding moments in its place and time. However, this does not mean that every style is soft or internal.

In the pantheon of Chinese martial arts the word “internal” carries with it certain connotations.  Thus, a style can be soft but not necessarily internal. However, to be internal means one must be soft. Even then we make a distinction between internally soft and externally soft.

That one is externally soft does not mean that one is truly internal. Well, maybe you can claim then to be externally internal but certainly not internally internal. To be internally internal you need to be internally soft which means that outwardly you do not have to manifest gentle, wavy-like movements because this does not mean you can be internally soft. In fact, its common to see an externally soft practitioner becomes stiff the moment the training partner offers more resistance. This is because the additional resistance prevents the demonstrator from being able to use his outwardly soft movements.

A practitioner who is externally soft tends to use push-pull motions. This is why you can see what he is doing. You may note that push-pull motion does not allow for crisp, instant arrow-releasing type of fajing.

On the other hand a practitioner who deals with internally soft motion would render his body into a giant bow that be used to load the training partner’s power into his internal bow string from which he can shoot his partner off balance.

If you examine Wing Chun you will see a lot of push-pull motions. Again being externally soft does not mean the art is not effective. It just means it is not cut out to do what it is not designed to do.

Tai Chi on the other side of the picture, is designed to work to release power as if shooting an arrow from a bow. Whether you want to use the power to strike or knock someone off balance is entirely up to you.

A good Tai Chi practitioner can conceal his load and release motions such that you can stare at the practitioner’s body from different angles and even put your hand on various parts of the body to feel the fajing motion yet cannot tell what is really happening. This is how internal really is. If I can see your rear leg thrusting, your legs bending and lowering your body or you stealing a half step into your partner’s space that’s not really internal.

So whilst you can bluff a lot of people, ultimately you are really bluffing yourself if you claim to be internal but is really externally soft.

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Author: ZenMindSword

Mushin is a practitioner, researcher and trainer for Yang style Tai Chi Chuan. He is also author of The Ip Man Koans, The Ip Man Questions and TaijiKinesis series of eBooks, as well as co-author of Complete Wing Chun.

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