четвртак, 30. јул 2015.

"Internal" and origin of martial arts

There isn’t a Chinese martial system today in which “internal” part couldn’t be found .All CMA today offer not only a way to increase combat efficiency of the practitioner but also a methods of “internal” training for health purposes and personal development .Some systems are completely dedicated to “internal” training disregarding fighting aspects of the art. These “internal” aspects are explained through traditional Chinese philosophy and medicine usually using concepts of Taoism , Confucianism and I-Ching . Some people even use this “internal” part to prove superiority of their arts and also originality claiming that systems in which “internal” part ( qi gong ) cannot be found are incomplete and not original ones. Using theories borrowed from Taoist cosmology and I-ching , often making them more complicated and harder to for understanding certain people are trying to put them self in a position above all other martial arts practitioners trying to convince others how they are the only ones who possess some exclusive knowledge and skills .
Is this really true ? Are the systems with “internal” ,”health “ part really more complete and more original? 
Let’s see what historical facts have to say about that.
During Ching dynasty martial arts looked pretty much different than today . Purpose of martial arts was –fighting, nothing more and nothing else . Main focus in training was weapon training, empty hand systems either didn’t exist or they took small part in training , usually at the very beginning of the training .Complete empty hand systems did not appear until middle of 19th century when fire arms completely replaced old weapons . People practiced martial arts during Ching dynasty for purpose of pursuing a military , security or law enforcement career (have in mind that law enforcement during Ching dynasty was quite different form today) . Training was completely dedicated to fighting efficiency and no internal training was involved in it. Qi gong was not an integral part of martial arts during the Ching dynasty period, neither was part of martial arts during the rule of previous dynasties. Vast majority of martial artist were illiterate and they couldn’t understand today’s theories, neither they could teach someone something like that. It was not before the very end of the Ching dynasty period when “qi gong” started to be incorporated into martial systems and that trend continued and accelerated during republican period. No one practiced martial arts for health purposes before republican period and that trend was supported by the government. By the end of Ching’s rule martial arts became popular among wealthy social class of merchants who led the development of martial systems in the direction of empty hands techniques and started to incorporate other things in their training, like qi gong . It is pretty obvious that qi gong and martial techniques developed separately and for a good reason, while qi gong is dedicated to perseverance and prolonging life and maintaining good health, martial arts have completely opposite purpose , destruction of life and health of the opponent . One thing is also important , some method of training like some “iron shirt” or similar methods (today wrongly marked as “qi gong” methods ) directly shortened the practitioners life for decades , goal of this training systems was purely martial and health of the practitioner was completely disregarded. We have no evidence, written or any other kind that qi gong was integral part of martial arts prior the republican era. 
“Internal”, “soft”,” Taoist” ,Wudang  and “external”, ”hard”, “Buddhist” Shaolin systems. This classification first time was used (and invented) at Gou Shu academy by Sun Lu Tang , Li Cun Yi and their close friends in the early 1920’s. Being practitioners of Ba Gua, Tai Chi and Xing I (main representatives of “internal” styles) leading people of the Gou Shu academy including Sun Lu Tang and Lu Cu Yi , for purely marketing purposes separated their arts from all others by declaring them “wudang internal stylys” while all the rest fell into category of external or Saholin styles . This classification took deep roots and very soon led to a constant duels between shaolin and wudang styles which became very serius in the beginning of 1930”s . Today some people refer to Emei styles as something between Shaolin and Wudang styles but we can’t find and classification nor metion of “Emei” styles before cultural revolution in China.
More confusion comes from the fact that many people use term Qi to describe biomechanical efficiency of “internal” styles. There is nothing internal in Tai Chi , Ba  Gua or any other “internal” style’s combat techniques . We do not talk about Qi in its original meaning because there is nothing internal in these techniques, it is simply a specific way of using the body - skeleton, joints, tendons … There is nothing mystical in that , there are no “energies” or anything that cannot be explained and measured by physics , biology , kinesiology . ect. Simply a body used in certain way, joints and skeleton have to assume specific posture ( alignment) in order to increase power or eliminate (incoming)force . It is important to note that all martial arts systems use this kind of biomechanical efficiency to the certain point , some more , some less . 

It is important to note that "internal" or soft approach is rather new in  Chinese martial arts and we can't find completely "internal" , soft systems before middle of the 19th century , despite of many "histories" where creation of many systems is put far back in the past .

 Taoism , Confucianism , I-ching , Buddhism are used today to explain martial training , concepts and applications of techniques. It is common believe that martial arts were developed as Buddhist or Taoist arts but as we could see that is not true. Using , mostly Taoist teachings and I ching to describe martial arts are work of one man , Sun Lu Tang , the most influential martial artist of all times. He was not only an excellent practitioner of martial arts but also highly educated which was extremely rare at time. He had a knowledge , will and means to combine his martial experience with classical Chinese philosophy. When Ba Gua practitioners talk of their forms as physical embodiment of I Ching they quoting Sun Lu tang , Same goes for Tai Chi practitioners who say that their art is good for health and aligning their energies with energy of Tao. Same goes for Xing I practitioners who say that 5 forms of their art interact like 5 basic elements of Taoist cosmology .  In several books published in the late 1920"s and 1930's , Sun Lu Tang formed modern view on martial arts , especially on Ba Gua , Tai Chi and Xing Yi , arts that he was master of . Before his books were published we can’t anyone who used traditional Chinese philosophy and traditional medicine to describe any martial art. 
This is what history has to say about “internal” and “externa’,  Shaolin, Wudang and Emei , Qi Gong and their relations and connections to martial arts .

Literature :
"Chinese martial arts : From Antiquity to 21st century"                            Peter A. Lorge
"China's cultural heritage: the Qing dynasty"                                             Richard.J Smith
"Chinese history'"                                                                                      Endymion P. Willkinson
"Warfare in Chinese History"                                                                     Hans J. Van de Ven,
 "A Military History of China"                                                            Robin Higham & David A. Graff
"Soldiers of the Dragon: Chinese Armies 1500 BC–1840 AD"                 C.J.Pe
 " Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals"                                                Brian Kennedy & Elizabeth Guo
 "Chinese boxing Masters and Methods"                                                   Robert W.Smth
"The study of Xing I boxing"                                                                    Sun Lu Tang
"The study of Tai Chi boxing"                                                                   Sun Lu Tang
"The study of Ba Gua boxing"                                                                  Sun Lu Tang
"The true essence boxing"                                                                          Sun Lu Tang 
"A study of Shaolin and Wudang"                                                             Tang Hao
"Secrets of Sholin boxing"                                                                         Tang Hao
"The qi fist classics"                                                                                    Tang Hao

"Taichi boxing and Neijia boxing:                                                                Tang Hao