Internal Power = 內功 (Nei Gong)
Integrated Power = 雜功 (Za Gong)
The ‘external’ component represented by the numerous ‘gongfu’ styles extant in China – perfects the ‘leverage’ of the joints on the horizontal plane. As this is generated by contracting muscles (which operate through the ‘awareness’ of the positioning of the bones and joints in relation to one another), very high levels of physical fitness and psychological conditioning must be pursued and mastered. This also involves the understanding of ‘torque’ or ‘deliberately’ employed muscular tensions to generate and increase impact. Bodyweight is also used across the horizontal plane – joint, bone, muscle bodyweight and psychological focus build ‘external’ power and erupt this force into a relatively small area of contact through the contacting limb and/or body-part. This type of power is quite often ‘shocking’ to encounter and difficult to recover from once a clean blow has been landed to a vulnerable part of the body. This skill can take five, ten or more years to perfect through traditional Chinese martial arts training (which builds a practitioner’s mind and body from the ground upwards – like the construction of a Book of Change hexagram). The most efficient martial arts style that I have seen that can convey this ability to a new student (with little prior experience) in the modern world – is that of the Shukokai Karate-Do style as formulated by O-Sensei Shigeru Kimura (1941-1995).
Integrated or ‘mixed’ power is a rarefied and highly refined skill of the highest martial order! A Master of ‘integrated’ power possesses the ability to continuously switch between power-generating systems (as in ‘external’ or ‘internal’), or apply only an ‘integrated’ approach. Furthermore, within the few seconds of a complicated fight – a fighter might have to switch rapidly from one power-expression to another because this is exactly what the situation calls for. The opponent could be highly skilled and a diverse approach necessary to ‘unlock’ their defensive patterns. Being ‘trapped’ in a restricted space might prevent certain techniques (and types of power generation) from being deployed – so the most appropriate mode should be selected. Where horizontal space is missing in the environment – then ‘vertical’ power can and should be used (with the orientation of power-generation adjusted to meet circumstances). Of course, the ‘iron vest’ ability to use the ‘aligned’ bones to absorb, reject or deflect any incoming attack is always in operation with the intention of ‘damaging’ the opponent’s attacking limb through using its own power and ‘deflecting’ it back into the structures of the attacking limb. This coincides with the maintaining of the perfect ‘rooted’ footwork.
External Power = 外功 (Wai Gong)
Internal Power = 內功 (Nei Gong)
Integrated Power = 雜功 (Za Gong)
The ‘neigong’ (or ‘neidan’) component is a vast subject that is very complex and directly linked to Daoist practice. This requires a qualified Master to lead the way. However, I have relayed above the basic requirements for ‘power production’ in our Hakka Family Style of Traditional Chinese Martial Arts.
Despite my best efforts, and after hours of research on the Japanese-language internet, I have not been able to locate a single article about Sensei Kimura – although I have managed to reconstruct his name using the Chinese ideograms still used in Japan – placing his family name ‘Kimura’ (denoting a ‘tree village’) first, and his first name (‘Shigera’ meaning ‘talented’) second. This is the normal traditional placing in China, Japan and Korea, which is the exact opposite of the convention that has developed in the West. When coming to the West, for instance, many Asians rearrange the placement of their names in accordance with the Western custom. The lack of any written evidence for Kimura Shigera in Japanese language sources probably reflects the fact that he became famous outside of Japan. He is mentioned a number of times within Western (English) sources, and was considered an expert in ‘power hitting’. Not only this, but his understanding of body-mechanics was so profound and exact that his teaching of Shukokai technique eventually became considered a separate and unique branch of the style. Once, when attending a seminar in Poole, Dorset in the mid-1980s – I witnessed Sensei Kimura execute a perfectly timed mid-level front kick into a foot-thick striking pad held by a large Western man. The recipient flew upwards a couple of feet and then fell backward about 6 feet and came crashing to the ground. The next day, this large and stout practitioner of Shukokai (from Hereford) had a large ‘blackened’ bruise across the entirety of his abdomen area – despite 12 inches of foam rubber having absorbed the shock of the power! I find it interesting that Sensei Kimura managed to separate the ‘power’ producing aspect of karate from the religious and/or spiritual elements of traditional karate, and express that process in sound scientific concepts. For a standard biography of Sensei Kimura Shigeru – please reference the link below:
As I cannot access any reliable Japanese language texts regarding Sensei Kimura’s biography at this time, I cannot confirm any of these facts that appear in English. Certainly, when I trained with him in the 1980s, I had no idea of his past and assumed he had travelled to the UK from Japan. He appears to have left Japan for the White Minority ruled Southern African countries of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa in the early 1960s, although he eventually left and migrated further to the US. I have written elsewhere (although not on this blog) how US Cold War policy called for the spread of the same Japanese martial culture used in WWII (against the West) throughout the West to negate what was viewed as a possible diasporic Chinese culture sympathetic to ‘New China’ established in 1949. This false economy, if you like (which saw Western governments use domestic taxpayer's money to employ supposed ‘Karate Ambassadors’ from Japan), came crashing down when the US established full diplomatic links with Mainland China in 1979. By 1989 the traditional karate scene in the UK had completely disintegrated. Before 1979, karate classes in the UK would be held using Japanese terms and instructions, but by say 1989, this was already becoming a thing of the past which is non-existent today. One thing I can say is that as far as my experience of Shukokai was concerned, the classes in the UK were always multicultural.
PS: As far as I am aware, the ‘double hip twist’ which Shukokai is famous far was modified by Sensei Kimura. This technique (in its original form) used to involve one side of the hip being pulled back and then forcibly pushed forward to execute a technique (left-hip for left reverse punch for example) - but by the time I was training in Shukokai a basic time-saving guard position had been developed - whereby the hip was already held in the ‘pulled back’ position. Therefore, with the left leg forward, the right hip was already pulled back and ready to go.
Every genuine martial arts style or system contains a rich mosaic of principles and techniques that at the most brutal assist in the surviving of the combat experience, and at the most sublime provide a psychological and physical pathway of self-development and self-transcendence. The best styles of Okinawan and Japanese karate confirm to his blue-print, and I would say that Wado-Kai, Shukokai and Goju Ryu are prime examples of the best that this genre has to offer. All these styles (two Japanese; Wado-Kai and Shukokai – and one Okinawan; Goju Ryu) have their historical roots within Chinese martial arts which probably are linked to the Fujian province of Southern China. Indeed, Wado-Kai and Shukokai derive from the Okinawan karate of Master Gichin Funakoshi – the Okinawan martial artist accredited with transmitting his style of Chinese martial arts to Mainland Japan. I practiced these styles only as an accident of fate – they happened to be prevalent in the areas I lived in to pursue my education throughout the 1980s. No one at the time (not even my close friends) knew of my Hakka Chinese gongfu background. I saw no reason to explain this, an they saw my familiarity with certain techniques as me just being talented in these areas (I was viciously fast and very good with kicking and moving, as in the traditional Northern martial arts in China, a student perfects kicking first – whilst due to cultural differences in the West – it is punching that is perfected first with kicking usually appearing uncomfortable). On the other hand, as I entered my late teens, Master Chan Tin Sang (1924-1993) directed me to develop my punching to a very high degree. This is where Wado-Kai (correct alignment) and Shukokai (correct hip and shoulder twist) assisted my development tremendously! Goju Ryu, on the other hand, has a special place in my heart. Its all-round body-conditioning reminded me of our own Hakka Chinese gongfu style which developed tremendous power, endurance and strength! The bones certainly hardened, whilst the mind became calm and broadly aware. Master Chan Tin Sang was an extraordinary teacher as he entrusted me to enter the training halls of other styles, dedicate myself to their ways, learn them fully and then integrate these lessons and skills into the Ch’an Dao System. This could happen as each karate style brought out a particular aspect of our own fighting system. I have the utmost respect for all legitimate styles of martial arts training and see no reason why there cannot be a positive cross-training that enhances rather than diminishes. As the US at the time was emphasising Japanese martial culture throughout the West as a means to side-line and obscure Chinese martial culture (due to the Cold War), European cuntries with no historical connection with Japan suddenly found themselves hosting (usually at their own expense) Japanese ‘ambassadors’ of various karate styles and associations. This arrangement all came crashing down when President Carter established full diplomatic relations with Mainland China in 1979, and Westerners started travelling en masse to China to train in gongfu – and Chinese teachers came to the West to teach – although the effects of this change would take around a decade to fully manifest itself. In the meantime, I trained in Japanese karate at the tail-end of this time period and consider it a very interesting and unique experience.
Shifu Adrian Chan-Wyles (b. 1967) - Lineage (Generational) Inheritor of the Ch'an Dao Hakka Gongfu System.