Sunday, March 18, 2007
Internal Arts as Fighting Arts
Mike Martello demonstrates fighting techniques of the internal arts
There has been a constant debate on forums, in Dojo's and probably in the street about combat effectiveness of the Internal Martial Arts (IMA).
This arises not just from proponents of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), but also old-school WW-2 trench combat systems such as Fairbain/Applegate smash-bash-bayonet ideology. Such schools scoff at systems such as Tai Chi and Aikido. Most have never seen more complex systems like Bagua. A part of this dilema can be attributed to the instructors of those arts and what they chose to present to the public.
When Tai Chi first came to the United States in the 1950's it had already been watered down somewhat. The Communist revolution in China had taken the lives of many masters and others fled to Taiwan and elswhere. Many of the martial schools went underground or were supressed, and there is no doubt that much knowledge was lost.
What remained was the beautiful slow-moving form that is recognized for it's health and meditation benefits. This dovetailed perfectly with a generation of youth experimenting with drugs, alternative healing and deep meditation and Tai Chi became a symbol of the "new age movement".
In a similar way, Master Uyeshiba altered Daito-ryu Aiki Jujitsu by turning it into Aikido, an art of "Do" (Tao) or spiritual way, Tai Chi Chuan had dropped it's "Chuan" or 'fist".
Well, things have come full circle and combat effectiveness is returning to the Internal Martial Arts. I believe some of this can be attributed to cross-training, but the fact is that internal arts such as Tai Chi Chuan were created to defeat hard external linear arts with "soft" blending circular techniques. None the less, the forms seen in Tai Chi, at least the Yang style that I practice clearly show lineage to Shaolin-type arts, therefore they share and may excell in combat effectiveness.
Probably no one has done more to promote the fighting aspects of Tai Chi Chuan than Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming. Yang is a prolific writer and I highly reccomend anyone interested in Tai Chi and Bagua as martial arts to please look at his books on Amazon or elsewhere.
My second point is that many people who practice Tai Chi never strive to learn more than the form, and maybe a little Chi Kung health practice. I know Tai Chi people that have been doing the forms for over ten years yet can't demonstrate push hands, let alone San-shou or Chin-na joint locking. I put the blame for Tai Chi's degraded martial status squarely at their feet. How can they say they really know their art? How can they be complete with only Yin and no Yang? Shame on them for not persuing to further their education and better themselves and the art they represent.
And my last point is that a combat art is also incomplete without a healing aspect. A warrior must be able to still his mind and relax the body. This is why the internal arts will prove to be superior in the long run.
In his book "The Power of The Internal Martial Arts", B.K. Frantzis describes how all the top Karate Black Belts in Tokyo, 5th Dan and above were going to train with the Tai Chi instructor. They had reached their apex in the external arts and were seeking a further path.
Please enjoy this really wonderful demonstration of push hands and fighting techniques by a truly talented Internal Martial Artist, Mike Martello.