Grab them by the insides! (Internal ‘Na’)

The ability to Na (hold or control) is important in all martial arts.

But it’s application is profoundly different between Internal and External systems.

(This is the same ‘na’ in ‘Chin Na’)

The external version is simple.

Just grab the opponent and you’ve done it.

You can then use that grab to break something or pull them into a strike or whatever.

INTERNALLY this gets a little more interesting.

We’re now talking about holding or controlling something INSIDE the other person.

A simple example would be to grab someone’s wrist and yet be able to control their shoulder.

If the person you grab is tense this will be easy. The more they relax the more skill you’ll need to do this.

With training there are many things you can ‘na.’

– Tension (one of the easiest)
– their root
– their balance point
– their breath

In the Internal Combat Arts course you’ll learn how to find and ‘na’ someones center.

(Tai Chi Chuan Lesson 16.

Have you ever heard Xing Yi and Bagua folks talk about touching the opponents spine anytime you make contact?

This is another example.

Any time you make contact (anywhere) you make sure that contact effects the opponents spine.


The key is to build the ability to feel inside your opponent.

You need to be able to put your hand on their wrist and feel the tension in their lower back, or their spine, or their kidney.

That’s why we do so many hands on, tactile games.

Like this one:

And each of the 4 sections in the Internal Combat Arts course includes various games that will continue to build this skill (and many others).


(and they must not know you.)

Being able to see where their head is so you can throw your fist at it is a start…

…but it you want to practice an INTERNAL art you need to go a little deeper than that.

Internal VS External: Application

What’s the difference between Internal & External?

This is a common question and there are a bunch of confusing and misleading answers online.

So here’s a simple answer:

– Internal = Inside the body.
– External = Outside the body.

So to help make things clearer lets talk about application of technique.

So the External is where you put your hands and feet.

1. Smack their arm to turn them, then punch them in the kidney.


2. As they punch, trap their wrist and drive you fore arm through their elbow to break the arm.

So if we want to make these applications Internal then we need to start looking at what’s happening inside the body.

We’ll start with inside the opponent.

When you punch them in the kidney…

– Is the force going into the kidney you’re striking?

– Or maybe you direct it across to damage the kidney on the other side.

– Or down into their lower intestine.

– Or up into the lung, heart or head.

In the 2nd application when you drive your forearm through their elbow…

– Instead you could direct the force to their shoulder to dislocate it instead of breaking the elbow.

– Or you could target their point of balance and turn into a throw instead of a break.

You can also look at what’s happening inside you.

– Are you using a heavy body state?
– A light one?
– Do you have Chan Si Jing (spiralling energy) turned on?
– Are you using compression?
– Are you expanding or contracting?
– Are you using Peng, Lu, Ji or An?

Each one of these body states will change the power of an application and how it affects the opponent.

Ok, here’s the cool part:

Say I’m doing the second app. I’m using a heavy body state, a little bit of An Jing (push) and I’m trying to break their elbow.

What if they counter?

They put enough strength and intent in their elbow that there’s no way I could break it.

Well, an External Martial Artist will need to change his technique. He’ll need to move his hands and feet into a different position so he can apply a different technique.

This takes time.

The Internal Martial Artist only has to change his mind.

– Heavy becomes light.
– An becomes Ji.
– and the target becomes his shoulder.

With a little training, this change can happen almost as fast as you can think.

Much faster than moving your hands and feet.

…and if the opponent doesn’t have the sensitivity to pick up the change and the internal skill to counter you fast enough then they don’t have much of chance.

And you can keep changing. Again and again in an instant.

Or you can strike (issue power) multiple times to multiple targets without changing your position or point of contact.

This is ONE of the key differences between internal and external.

We’ll talk about a few others over the next couple days.

When you’re ready to start learning how to fight at the speed of thought,

Go check this out:

If you think that a kiss…

“If you think that a kiss is all in the lips c’mon,
you got it all wrong, man.” – Jack White.

And if you think that a punch is all in the hips,

…Oh Well…

then do the twist.

Most martial artists just do the twist over and over.

Dancing to same old song.

Only it looks a little different now,

With those creaking knees and aching hips, it
just ain’t what it used to be.

Didn’t their momma ever tell them that it’s
what’s on the inside that counts?

 – The alignments,
 – the body states,
 – the yi and the chi.

I don’t see too many of the old Internal masters

They just keep getting better and better, while
looking about half their age.

Because ultimately a kiss…

 …a dance…  ..your ‘age’..

even a punch.. all in your head.

Your ability to direct your intention, and the
internal skill to make that intent a reality.

That’s what counts.

So, don’t do the twist anymore.

Develop your intention & your internal skill with
our Internal Power training:

…and then go use it to impress your friends.

Because friends don’t let friends do the twist.