What Is Internal Martial Arts?

     Happy 2022, readers. Don't let 2022 become "2020 2: The Sequel," keep your health optimal to give your immune system a fighting chance against the new variants of Covid-19, which will soon become something like a seasonal flu should the less-severe symptoms and lower hospitalization rates that came from Omicron become a trend for future strains of the virus.

     That's all you'll hear from me about Covid, I think we're through the worst of it and life can go back to normal. For the martially-motivated among us, let's turn our focus to something decidedly martial since all three of my prvious postings have been on nutrition. Most people visiting are likely hearing the term "Internal Arts" for the first time ever and are probably wondering what the difference between an internal martial art form and any other martial art form. The difference between internal and external martial art forms is the approach the practitioner uses for power generation when executing a strike such as a punch or a kick. The simplest explanation is that external martial arts use muscle to generate power while internal martial arts seek to hold the frame of the body in a way that when executing a strike, the goal is to use the ground beneath you as a springboard. This is achieved through proper standing and alignment of all the joints from head to toe.

     As far as proper alignment is concerned, if you were to stand with your weight on the inside of your knees, you would feel your weight entering your joints and causing discomfort, When you place your weight on the outside of your knees, you will notice that the weight in your feet has increased while you feel very little weight on your knees by comparison. When one's alignments are proper, the weight from the entire body will sink into the ground like this and all of your joints and your back will feel reflief from pressure. Standing like this can be a difficult endeavor, yet it is common to practice this type of standing in order to prolong the amount of time in which you can stand like this. Ultimately, this type of standing should become normal practice to the point that you can maintain this all throughout your day. Imagine what it would be like to go about life and keep all of that weight off of your joints and back. You could be pain-free in a matter of months and you wouldn't have to take things like Tylenol or Aleve for back and joint pain.

     You might be thinking that this might sound like a good health practice, but it might fall flat as far as martial applications are concerned. I might also be thinking that the very practice of being able to move using less energy and using the ground as the unmoving force of support behind each of your strikes should be seen as a win-win situation for any martial arts practitioner. Each of the three Internal Arts: Bagua, Xingyi, and Taiji (Tai Chi) have their own approach to applications. Taiji uses internal principle to uproot, or remove, an opponent from their base of support and either push them away from you or move the opponent into a standing submission. Xingyi fights on a linear plane where the goal is to invade the opponent's space and strike them repeatedly. Xingyi is considered the most external of the internal arts and yet it is considered by many to be a scholarly martial art as it is complex in principle and is performed using complete muscle relaxation, as with the two other internal arts. Bagua, in contrast to Xingyi, tends to fight in a circular manner where the goal is constantly be on the outside of the opponent, create openings for strikes, and execute those strikes. Again, the force from these strikes do not come from throwing muscles around as hard as one can muster, but rather by manipulating your connection with the ground to throw powerful strikes using only a little bit of effort.

     Transitioning to internal arts from external systems can be a difficult task, yet the payoff is that if you continue studying external afterwards, you will have better knowledge on how to execute strikes while reducing your overall strain and fatigue.

     As Southwest Florida Internal Martial Arts continues to grow from a mustard seed, more content will be distributed through here and the main website: southwestfloridaima.com. Plans for the future include a workout compainion app with an onboard curriculum of internal arts. That app is still in early development and will likely remain there for some time. Until then keep your attention to this blog as the majority of updates will be announced here.


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