Many martial artists only see what’s going on with their arms and legs. In the internal martial arts, the movement, however, originates from the Dantian (energy center) which is similar to the gravity center. It is only logical to adapt the greatest power from our balance point since this is where we find the best lever effect for our applications.
The biggest problem for the internal movement is that to understand we must act according to the Yin Yang principle. This means that if we want to hit hard, then we must become soft. Having hard muscles to hit hard will result in more resistance towards our internal movement since the power transmission cannot go smoothly with a stiff body.
Qi Gong stretching in the shoulder, back, and hip is critical for a smooth power transmission from the Dantian. Stretching makes us flexible, and it becomes easier to relax.
A proper master in internal martial arts can always tell you where Yin and Yang is and how the lever structure works with your hands and feet.
Another point which is often done incorrectly is the natural order of the body to promote proper energy transmission. The magic numbers in our step are 45° a 90°. Most stances which go into one direction must turn the feet accordingly to transmit our Dantian from heel to toe or from toe to heel. Our feet are the connection to the earth and the root of all our movements. Other important points to focus are the knee, hip, chest, shoulder, elbow, and fingertips. This topic is rather complex and not suited for beginners, however, the Tai Chi training will feature all this content, and it does take a while to understand the natural order of movements fully. This is nothing which people can learn in days, usually, it takes years of practice.
Moving and Not Moving
Please read this post to understand what I mean with “wheels”.
Movements which come from a smaller wheel (Dantian mostly) usually are where we want to focus. Moving a larger wheel will disturb our lever effect and so our internal movement and power transmission.
Pulling a person usually takes a lot of arm strength, and if done as an external movement it is a good example of power inefficiency. Most of this also does not work if the opponent is heavier or stronger than you. According to the internal principle, we can make not entirely but at least a little up for that by placing our full body weight into our pull, which we would never reach by only using our arms.
The internal pull is done by letting our Dantian fall by doing a small step backward and resting in a full routed 50% mabu (horse) stance (high or low stance does not matter, this can be done by almost standing with knees looking to the outside). The perfect execution of this movement will let the opponent feel your body weight in a very short amount of time.
Understanding where the power comes from it must be clear now that moving our shoulders or elbows will “soften” this effect by decreasing the acceleration of our body weight. This is a good example and a clear difference between external and internal application. The external pull is a significant and broad movement (which often leaves your guard wide open) executed with the whole body and usually is very inefficient compared to the internal. The internal pull is a very fast, small and compact movement which does not require much strength; it does need a firm but flexible grip, flexible body and an excellent power transmission with the natural order in our coordination.
Pulling is only one example, in our Tai Chi training you can learn more about internal applications.
Clean and Pure Movement
Power transmission free from disturbances, be it emotional or physical, is a great inspiration in Wudang internal martial arts. Understand the internal arts enables a new approach to our martial arts, personality and the way we view things. Peace in mind and body, fluid movements like water, explosive and powerful like a dragon.