Is it possible to practice TaiChi Chuan "externally"?

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Is it possible to practice TaiChi Chuan "externally"?

Postby Cezwad » Sun Jan 20, 2013 8:46 am

Hello Everyone,

This is my first topic on this forum and before asking my question, I would like to thank everybody for the great material and discussions that we can find here, this is very helpful!

So my question today is: is there a possibility to enrich our practice of TaiChi Chuan with "external" exercices?
What I mean is that we can practice our TaiChi Chuan in different ways, slowly, internally or faster, with more "power" in it. This second way is what I call "external" but this may not be the correct word for it.

Edit: in Dr Yang's book "Theory of TaiChi Chuan", he is talking about the Yin and Yang aspects of Taichi Chuan. The Yin aspects is described as being slower and the Yang aspect as being quicker.

I would like to train this "quick" part of the Taichi Chuan. This is what I mean by "external".

I think that a part of the answer is to practice the jin of Taichi Chuan but I am not sure that this is the only way. And when I read about the Jin, I find information about internal jin and external Jin which is confusing me a little more.

Does anyone has an idea about how to train the "quick" aspects of Taichi Chuan?

Should I need to practice more the Jin?

If yes, is this more internal or external Jin?

Does anyone know some exercices for it?

Thanks a lot for your help and please, if my explanation are not clear enough, do not hesitate to ask me (my home language is not english and I edited the post to make it more clear).

Best regards,

César
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Re: Is it possible to practice TaiChi Chuan "externally"?

Postby yeniseri » Sun Jan 20, 2013 10:23 pm

In taijiquan, you stoop, bend, perform flexion, extension , dorsiflexion of ankles, etc so what do you mean by practicing taijiquan externally, as opposed to, I guess "internally"?
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Re: Is it possible to practice TaiChi Chuan "externally"?

Postby Greg Jah » Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:29 pm

Hi Cesar,

I am also new to this forum, and relatively new to Tai Chi. I came across this video by Scott Meredith on boxing-style bagwork for Tai Chi here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRcIC_v2q4Q

He also has a book (which I have not read) which he references in the video, and which can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRcIC_v2q4Q

I'm not sure if this is what you meant by "external" training of Tai Chi, but it's what I thought you meant.

I am also very interested in hearing from others what their thoughts are in this area.

Best,

Greg
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Re: Is it possible to practice TaiChi Chuan "externally"?

Postby chh » Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:30 am

Hello!

I think it's pretty reasonable to start by practicing the form at lots of different speeds once you know it. You'll find that if something in your form isn't so good, you'll tip over or get tired in spots. And as you already said, you can practice with fa jin, and again if your form or timing isn't so good you'll lose your root, or not be able to get much power out, or you'll find weird stagnant spots in between the postures. If you don't have a teacher, I'd recommend holding off on the fa jin until you can work with someone, since it's quite easy to hurt your joints and neck, or to just add muscular tension into the mix instead of adding the structural/timing stuff necessary for manifesting power. You can also start by practicing one posture at a time, so that stepping doesn't make it too complicated.

People use the word 'external' in some subtly different ways, but it would make me uncomfortable to use it for this kind of practice, because it's important not to stop doing any of the 'internal' stuff you learned when you are practicing fast or with power. If anything, I think changing speed and adding fa jin is just another part of internal training as it gives you important feedback.

So I think it's a good idea to think of it in such a way that taiji that's fast or has power isn't any less of an internal art or practice- maybe it's internal in a more complete way.

After saying that, I was thinking about what César said about internal and external jin. People (like Dr. Yang http://ymaa.com/articles/generating-jin) use 'internal jin' and 'external jin' to talk about the idea of cultivating and circulating qi, and manifesting physical strength, respectively. This isn't really part of my practice right now, but if that's the way you were thinking of 'internal' and 'external', maybe it's totally right that doing the form with fa jin is 'external' in that sense. Can someone who uses these concepts explain whether fa jin in taiji is external or internal jin or neither or both?
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Re: Is it possible to practice TaiChi Chuan "externally"?

Postby Dvivid » Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:32 am

Of course it is possible.

You need a better understanding of the terminology.

Training any style internally means, you are focusing on staying relaxed, the body is as loose as possible within the movement, and you are focused on leading your qi within the movement. (Muscular tension stagnates your energetic circulation) Internal jin is like a bullwhip.

Training any style externally means you are tightening the muscles and joints, and using brute force, muscular power. External jin is like a hard punch or kick.

Since Taijiquan is an internal art by design, based on qi circulation first and foremost, external training pertains more to the speed of your practice, not brute force.

Once you memorize the form, you practice it faster and faster to learn how to fight.

You also practice slower and slower, until the form takes one hour, to develop your Qi.
"Avoid Prejudice, Be Objective in Your Judgement, Be Scientific, Be Logical and Make Sense, Do Not Ignore Prior Experience." - Dr. Yang

http://www.ymaa.com/publishing
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Re: Is it possible to practice TaiChi Chuan "externally"?

Postby caesar » Mon Jan 21, 2013 1:16 pm

Thank you for the nice clarification!

For me this subject becomes more complex when I think of some arts where students are doing push ups, while trying to relax and finding and developing the more economical muscles while doing them, focusing on breathing etc...internal training?
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Re: Is it possible to practice TaiChi Chuan "externally"?

Postby Cezwad » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:18 pm

Hello everyone,

Thanks a lot for your answers, it is really helping me.

By looking around, I found a very good video example about what I was thinking about when I used the word "external":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1Jf0xEjU0I

The type of movement is viewable at 00:33 for example.

@Yeniseri: you see when I am talking about "external" in fact I mean what you can see in the video at 00:33. I think that the exact word is not "external" but I do not know how to call it. It is difficult to explain. It is quick and powerful but it stay soft and when you look at it, it looks more "external" than the slow application of the form but it still come from the inside and stays internal. It does not look like pure strengh but as chh said, it may be a kind of "external jin".

@Greg Jah: Thanks a lot for the video, it is very interesting. The exercice at 04:39 looks great to enrich our fighting skills with a movement that is not too hard for the joints. You will see in the video I posted that I had a different idea in mind when I was using the "external" word but as I said above, I think that I do not use the right word for what I mean.

@chh:
"So I think it's a good idea to think of it in such a way that taiji that's fast or has power isn't any less of an internal art or practice- maybe it's internal in a more complete way."

This is exactly what I had in mind!

I looked at the article you put to refer to and I found that finally I was thinking to one type of "emitting Jin". I think that I was in fact refering to what is called "External jin" of Taichi Chuan (Yang manifestation of jin).

@Dvidvid: "Since Taijiquan is an internal art by design, based on qi circulation first and foremost, external training pertains more to the speed of your practice, not brute force."

This is a good final word for my question. I will be able to practice Taichi Chuan with more speed by learning how to use the external jin of Taichi Chuan. As TCC is an internal art, this jin should stay a "soft jin" as Dr Yang explained here: http://ymaa.com/articles/generating-jin

I also found a good answer here:
http://ymaa.com/articles/steps-in-learning-taijiquan
Dr Yang is talking about "fast TCC". This is exactly what I was looking for and in the progression of the TCC learning it is more advanced than what I know. So I will discuss it with my teacher to start training for it.

Thanks everybody!
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Re: Is it possible to practice TaiChi Chuan "externally"?

Postby adamfuray » Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:09 pm

Here are a couple tips that helped me along the way:
1. Taiji is an aerobic form of excercise. If you finish your form and don't feel "worked out", you aren't pushing yourself.
2. Most Taiji forms are fast, probably because fights aren't slow.
3. Fast with power =/= external. Slow and relaxed does not always = internal.
4. Running, weight training(excluding "bulking" training), dietary measures, and full contact free sparring all coincide with Taiji training.
5. There is a very blurry line between external and internal, and most martial arts, in their higher states, ride this line.
6. If you aren't being taught to fight, or are not interested in fighting skill, Taiji is probably not for you. It is, above all else, a fighting skill.
"I know sir, that I have played out of tune, but when I learn where to place my fingers, this shall no longer happen."-Giovanni Bottesini
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Re: Is it possible to practice TaiChi Chuan "externally"?

Postby Cezwad » Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:59 pm

Hello Adamfuray,
Thanks for your answer, I think it is good principles to follow.
Especially the number 5 "There is a very blurry line between external and internal, and most martial arts, in their higher states, ride this line."
During our TaïChi Chuan training last saturday we discussed it a little and I think that during our practice, we can try to practice the form in different way, from more internal to more external, from slow to quick and others.
And at the end, at the higher state, I think that you are right to say that a Martial Art can ride the line between internal and external.
Finally, our art will only become what we will make of it.
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