…So, I wanted to continue my thoughts from the last post, that there is no Internal Standard, that there is no real definition about what is “Internal.”… But I also want to give you more of my own personal point of view.
The thing is that already when you want to look at an art, a style or a school, or even a specific method, as “Internal”, you do quite a sever mistake. Something outside of you can not be internal. And an external method can not make you “internal” from the outside.” Just practicing a certain style or a method is not enough to make someone understand the “internal”. Instead, “Internal” is much more about the individual person, his or her’s own journey and personal discoveries.
“Internal principle” of the Internal Arts is a process. It’s your own process. You can not escape this process and you are not internal until you have been in this process for a while.
I look at people who practice Tai Chi and other so called internal arts, even other styles as Wing Chun who claim what they do is Internal. Some of them have only practiced “Internal methods” for a couple or a few years. They perform movements, try to follow principles and they call what they do “internal”. Some people believe that “sinking the qi” is important to be internal, so they do something, often a clear visible external movement. And they believe that what they do is internal. Some others have practiced Tai Chi for a couple of decades, maybe more. But what they still is external movements only. They lead their movements with their limbs, their balance is bad. They don’t know how to sink. As soon as they try to use their Tai Chi in free partner exercises, free push hands and similar they become stiff, hard and seem to forget everything.
This is because they don’t “own it”. They are not inside of the process. Maybe they have started their journey and “try” to become “internal”. But the “Internal” is a process that takes time. And it should take time. Sadly, some people don’t understand this at all, they never understand to travel this road. What they do never become something Internal. Maybe it stays as an idea in their mind, but never becomes a process that they are a part of.
I remember my own process. First when I had practiced a couple of years I started to understand what Tai Chi was about, I started to understand it because I started to verbalize the art for myself with my own words, in my own way. I believe it took yet another year before turning the art into something of my own, before I really started to own it. I remember the following years, those years about thirty years ago, how I struggled to make the process of my own practice more internal. I always tried to become better to initiate movements from the root and from the core (my Dantian). What I did was certainly “Internal”. But still I did a lot of mistakes many years ahead.
I don’t remember when I had become really comfortable in my Tai Chi. But after quite a few years of practice I started to have more confidence. I probably needed more than ten years of practice before I completely stopped cheating and stopped compensating because my own flaws and lack of faith. But when I had gained enough confidence in my art, I soon found that my breath was always deep and full. I could “sink” at an instant and I could feel my own Dantian (lower Dantian of course) whenever I wanted. Just “being me” and “being inside of the process” had blurred together. Nowadays when people ask about my Tai Chi, how I practice and how often, I find it difficult to answer. The truth is that I always bring my art with me. It is always in my heart and almost never leave my mind. The process of learning the Internal, learning to understand it, eventually turned into something else…