Style Preferences

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Style Preferences

Post  wuxia_warrior on Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:23 pm

Have you guys found that as you train in different styles and find the ones you like better, the others feel worse and worse?

I feel like the longer and deeper I go into Chen taiji, bagua, and the other internal arts, the "worse" the external stuff feels. Like the ones I like more seem to just flow more smoothly and in accord with my nature than the ones I like less. I'm not saying any are better than others or anything like that, just that some feel better and others start to feel worse and I'm sure it's a personal preference thing. I just find I have a growing disinterest/distaste for the ones that just don't feel right to me. The ones I don't care for as much are generally better [cardio/aerobic] exercise, so maybe I'm just getting even more lazy. I do believe, though, that in actual application a fighting style shouldn't exhaust you quickly as that can lead to defeat.

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Re: Style Preferences

Post  Eryn on Mon Mar 01, 2010 7:00 pm

Personally, learning the internal deeply made my external much stronger and potent. As well, the external made the internal much better; it was kind of a yin yang experience. The thing with external practice is that you have to put a hefty amount of hard calisthenics time in for it to really become solidified in your structure. Also, it's not just the time you put into the external training, it's the quality of the training you do. A smaller amount of quality training will do much more than a large amount of so-so training. Ideally you should do a hefty amount of quality hard calisthenic longfist training (push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, basic longfist drills, stretch kicks, etc) for external to really become ingrained in your neuromuscular development. I trained about 2-3 years of grueling and hard quality external before it was really ingrained in my structure, I'm not sure if you've done this yet.

I actually ended up liking longfist alot more the deeper I went into internal training--structurally it just made more sense. It also taught me to train the longfist smarter and more efficiently so I got more out of the exercise and less potential injury. This leads into your statement about styles leading to exhaustion, which I totally agree with. Internal is really good about teaching you the value of smart training so you can avoid stress in sparring/fighting situations, but longfist's musculo-cardio workout is such a great aid to the internal. Put the two together, and you have the ultimate Voltron, JK Wink. The two really go hand-in-hand IMO.

I consider bagua to be my weakest point, but I attribute that to the fact that I haven't put as much time and effort into its practice as the others. It might be just as simple as that.


Last edited by Eryn on Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:18 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Style Preferences

Post  wuxia_warrior on Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:40 am

I know what you mean about each adding to the other, I've had the same experience. I do MA about six days a week, two of the days I help with the beginner's class and then have mine (for at least 3 hours total) so I get a better workout than the average white boy doing kung fu, but certainly not the extensive, grueling training like you've done. I'd love to quit grad school and just train, but unfortunately sweat can't be used as currency.

It's not that my external gets worse, it just doesn't "feel" as good, if you know what I mean. Sometimes I'll be doing something random, for instance waiting for someone to return a call while I'm outside the chemistry building, when the spirit seizes me to just do some bagua. I don't ever have that with longfist, where I spontaneously break out into form. I'm thinking like those old York Peppermint Patty commercials where the guy's skiing on his coffee table and stuff.

Also, and I could be wrong about this, but I'm not exactly built for longfist. I'm somewhat jealous of people like you and Courtney who have the height, flexibility, and athleticism to do those sorts of things better than I ever will. Courtney's Northwestern Mantis has that kind of mantis energy that just doesn't flow through my body. I'm built differently and even if I lost a bunch a weight (which I'm sure would improve things), I don't think it would feel as good to me as things like bagua, Chen taiji, etc. I really like the Wudang flavor of things, not so fond of the Shaolin flavor. Not for any reason other than how I feel doing it.

I've been such an MA slut doing so many different things, I guess I was just thinking aloud about how my interests are changing and narrowing down to focus on just a few things.

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Re: Style Preferences

Post  Eryn on Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:10 pm

I see what you mean; it's coming down to a personal preference sort of thing. Personally, I used to like baji the most of all the internal styles, but now I'm at the point where I like them all about equally. I see all styles now as belonging to some kind of movement continuum. To me, they all bring something valuable to the table, and each time I practice an internal art--or external--it just adds to the total effectiveness of all the others. That's my experience so far, as of now in my personal practice. I may change as I go even deeper, but I'm not really sure. From my lineage, Xu Weijun was a tongbei specialist, Lu Shaojun a xingyi master, and Wang a baji man, so it may be that it all eventually culminates to personal preference/ability/affinity. It's definitely something interesting to observe.

I think that having a natural athletic ability has a little to do with longfist/southern fist, but it's not nearly all of it. Drive and proper training are the real important factors. I think that even if you don't feel that you have the natural athletic ability, you could still be very good at longfist. You might not be able to jump olympic level height with jump kicks, or blast through a high level movement set with perfect form, but I think that everyone has the ability to train to perform any external well. I was a rather scrawny kid growing up, with very limited strength, but I was pretty fast; fast but weak. I had to work extremely hard to get the strength I have, lots of hours just doing hard and grueling calisthenics. I absolutely hated it at first, but deep down I knew it was for a goal that I was determined to reach. It took around 3-4 years of daily, dedicated training, but I got there. Now I'm stronger than most people I know and meet.

It sounds like you weren't quite lacking the strength like I was, but conversely the speed. In my experience it's very hard at first when you embark on an intense regimen like that, because your body isn't used to the work load you're giving it. It takes several months to get used to it. Then comes the persistence factor, where you think to yourself, "I just can't do this anymore, just can't get the motivation to do these exercises." The one thing I can tell you is that you just have to push through it, and trust me, you will feel better for doing them in the long run.

It sounds like you have the opposite problem I did; you're strong but the speed is lacking. The other day Courtney told me that you are very hard to physically move around, very grounded and stable--treelike. You just need to get the speed up to par with the strength. The one I can tell you is, if you really want to get faster, you'll have to work very hard to get it. Punching and kicking with weights sounds hardly fun at first, but (in my personal experience), I actually grew to like the feeling. Maybe it's that endorphin high people talk about when working out. There are many exercises you can do to increase speed, many involving circuit routine weight training (similar to how boxers train). I could show you a few next time I see you, if you're interested.

I have a friend who used to be morbidly obese. He was 400 lbs at 6' 3", now he's at 260 lbs, and he looks like he's around 180 really. It took him a year of daily 3-hour gym workouts plus healthy eating to get that much off. Now he's training for a 24-mile marathon, and eventually wants to do a triathlon. Anyone who knew him a year earlier would have thought he would never be able to accomplish what he's doing now, but he proved them wrong. He's now more fit than those who probably questioned his abilities. He still trains 3 hours a day at the gym after school, and he now wants me to train him in wushu. He's an extreme case, but he came out of extreme circumstances, which is what drove him to reach this height of fitness. He told me the other day, "people ask me how got here, and I tell them I was dedicated, determined, and worked my ass off."

I defintely think you could be quite good at external, you'd just have to push yourself to do some hard calisthenics that might seem unappealing at first, and the internal might have to take a backseat for a while.
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Re: Style Preferences

Post  Whiteape on Wed Mar 03, 2010 3:46 pm

I can relate. I have always preferred the internals and continue to move more and more towards that focus. I have always valued the longfist and other externals as well, particularly for the intense workout of it. For me, the aspect of neijia feeling better has to do with the training of the yi. The internals feel much more complete to me. While I can effectively do qigong while performing longfist, it's just not nearly the same as the depth of what I feel doing taiji. I still find a hard workout important for stimulating the blood flow and keeping an overall healthy body, but the the stimulation of "mind" and "spirit" from internal feels more whole and rounded.

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