“Real Fajin” and other things: Internal and External
(This is an interim blog to comment about some issues that have come up in emails)
The previous silk-reeling blog was to explain roughly how six-harmonies works generally works in the so-called “internal arts”. The problem a lot of people have is in understanding that almost all the so-called “external” arts also use parts of the same six-harmonies theories, but the dependence on dantien-control is not the same. Training methods like overtly stretching connective tissues, “dynamic tension”, etc., the use of neigongs, etc., overlap both “internal” and “external” arts, but just because an external art uses “internal exercises”, it’s not the same thing as an “internal” style art.
An internal-style art is going to use the type of movement described in the previous blog and it takes quite a while of knowledgeable practice to develop the body connections in a way that is controlled by the dantien. It can’t be faked (well, maybe to a bunch of newbies who don’t know anything).
I saw a video of a western Taiji teacher who was showing what he called “Real Fajin”. It was interesting to watch and he obviously used a variation of the pressure-packing stuff you see in a lot of southern Shaolin arts common to Hong Kong, Fujian Province, Taiwan, and so on. Without getting too involved with the pressure-packing things, let me just indicate that most styles use some aspect of this phenomenon, but a style that uses the “external” type of movement and body-mechanics is going to use different aspects of pressure phenomena in different ways. In other words, someone who has trained his body to move as a unit controlled by the dantien is going to apply pressure phenomena differently than someone who uses more localized movement. So the over-arching point is that before the discussion ever reaches the “I’m internal, too” stage, the first thing to do is to look at the basic six-harmonies/reeling-silk aspects. Someone using an aspect of the pressure phenomena is not necessarily doing Taijiquan by any means.
Another thing to consider is antagonistic tensions (sometimes called "contradiction"). Some arts use varying formats of antagonistic tensions in postures, stances (screwing into the ground with the legs, for example). There are antagonistic tensions that use jin and a lot that simply use different grades of muscular tension. The point is that using tensions of the muscular and winding types preclude full control of the body by the dantian. So once again, no matter how effective different approaches are, the type of strength developed by relaxed channels controlled by the dantien and assisted by jin, is noticeably different from the type of movement in the so-called Neijia, the internal-style arts.