Internal Martial Arts Styles
There are three main internal martial arts, Bagua, Hsing Yi and Tai Chi they are all different yet they are all the same, they are the same because they all have a common ancestor and yet they are different because they look different. These martial arts are also known as soft martial arts, not because you have to be soft to do them but rather the approach is to be soft to be yielding and not to meet force with direct and opposing force, the idea behind this is that you can use less force to overcome more force, it is a theory that should save you energy.
Hsing yi is said to be a soft or internal martial art and of the three it is said to be the most martial and the most linear or most direct, it is an art that tries to intercept what the opponent is doing so from outward appearance is could seem to be an external martial art but the aim is the same as the other arts in that it waits for the opponent to attack and whilst they attack you take the quickest and most direct route to the target
In the video the instructor is trying to show how the attack is executed at the same time as the defense, in other words as your attacker attacks you intercept and fill the gap that the attacker has left, so it’s not really block and punch it is evade and strike all at the same time.
Bruce Lee had this idea in mind when he tried to create his own style that is not a style.
This martial art is also classed as internal or soft and the reason for this is that it aims to deflect an incoming force so the idea is that no force meets an incoming force directly but rather the force is deflected not as with a block but rather with a kind of sliding intercepting force, the difference with Bagua is that they use circular force to deflect the force, the idea is the same and that is to use minimal force to get the job done, the way that the force is used in Bagua is type of spiraling deflecting twisting blending and mixing that intercepts the linear force of your opponent the video below gives an example
TaiChi is the third internal martial art that people think of when any talk turns to internal martial arts, it is well known around the world as an art that promotes good health and vitality, most of the information on Tai Chi shows old people doing it for health and relaxation but the roots of Tai Chi are based in combat the moves that are in there like uprooting and punch to the left and punch to the right, brush knee push two man sets Supreme ultimate fist, all of these terms indicate that Tai Chi was once a martial art and to fight you need to be fit, alert, relaxed so all the terms that relate to combat also relate to the slow methodical dance that can be seen in parkas all over the world, Tai Chi is probably the most subtle as a martial art as from the outside there appears to be no aggressive side to it, but Tai Chi principles are based on yin and yang not just yin which is the gentle, soft easy going non resistant side to Tai Chi, there must be a yang to balance the two opposing forces, it is not possible to have just one side of anything and Tai Chi is no different, in theory or in action.
Yin must be understood and yang must be understood so that so kind of gauge can be applied, imagine darkness with no light or light and no darkness, how could you ever be able to compare one to the other with just one and not the other?
Tai Ch is the art out of these three internal martial art that uses Hsing Yi and bagu as well as Tai Chi it is meant to be all of these styles but none of these styles at the same time, this of course is an aim that is beyond the imagination and in theory it is great but to execute in practice is a task beyond most mortals. Push hands is a way to try to keep balance and to try to stay calm under pressure whilst using no tension and no excess force, these things may be achievable in the right circumstances but doing these things with an out of control aggressor may leave move Tai Chi stylists confused and scared and left with a feeling that you are a fish out of water.
Push hands can help to a degree, but push hands is not fighting and the gap between fighting and push hands is enormous, the aim of Tai Chi is to use minimum force by defecting that force and using it to your own advantage, there are many one view is that you should let your attacker harm themselves because they attacked fist and another view is when they move first you move faster, which means that instead of waiting for the attack to end you should move to strike a point on your attacker that is vulnerable before their attack gets to you, a type of intercepting force with ill intention, video below shows some types of defense this type of defense is very martial in approach is aims to do a great deal of damage to the opponent
this video shows how most people would expect someone doing Tai Chi to defend themselves
When watching these videos it easy to be confused as to what is correct Tai Chi and what is just made up, but that would be missing the point, the point is that none of these are wrong and none of them are totally right but good Tai Chi is somewhere in the middle and only good genuine mindful practice will help you to see which could really work and which is so bad that it is dangerous, Tai Chi as with ALL internal martial arts are open to change and to challenge, and if something needs to change to make it work change it. No one is responsible for your life, only you and if doing something that will endanger your life for the sake of how it looks is not changed and questioned then you only have yourself to blame, these arts are not set in stone and they were never meant to be, the clue is in the titles of these arts, they are soft, they are internal they are meant to be studied changed and updated to what is real and not what is false. Let the symbol of yin and yang be the guide to you practice, not just yin and not just yang.