Internal -v- External

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Internal -v- External

Post by john pham on Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:43 am

In my opinion, there is no difference between internal and external kung fu. This is a western phenomenon created by the western man in order to categorize and classify a body of knowledge foreign to him. Unfortunately, this dichotomy has entered the mainstream discussion about kung fu and the general public has used this classification system to separate styles. In my humble opinion, all schools have internal and external training methods and only differ in the sequence that these concepts are taught if taught at all due to mistrust and suspicion. Take for example the grand ultimate fist--tai chi. The reason that tai chi is titled the grand ultimate because it is to be studied last by one who has embarked on the martial way beginning with Hsing-I [karate], moving to Pa Kua [4 corner stance] and polishing his knowledge by contemplating on subtleties of Tai Chi . Shameless instructors teach tai chi by itself and thus distort it's awesomeness. By doing so, it is like a kindergarten teacher teaching 5 year old children Calculus on the first day of school. This produces folks that look like they are practicing kung fu but in reality, they are clueless in trying to navigate the complexities of a difficult subject. Due to this market driven approach, many practitioners of tai chi can train for a decade and are still not able to preserve their life when threatened. It is important to cultivate chi so that a practitioner can channel the strength of mind into his techniques, but chi by itself is like a snake without its fangs. Just remember that if you cultivate external kung fu, you must also cultivate internal kung fu. More emphasis should be placed in the beginning on external techniques and as one matures in his understanding, insight and clarity, only then should he embark on the grand ultimate path known among Vo Lam students as the iron sphere method of the black gate.

john pham

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