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Thread: Kosho Shorei Kempo - Internal or External?

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    Question Kosho Shorei Kempo - Internal or External?

    Is Kosho an internal or external martial art?
    I often get asked this question by martial artists not familiar with the style, but what are the criteria for an internal or external martial art?
    Some people have a cut and dry explanation, and for others it's more of a gray area.

    When someone attempts to describe their art, you will get different answers from the different people studying it.
    This is completely normal because of the a) level of understanding and b) personal beliefs.

    I believe that an art being external or internal is wholly dependant on the person putting into practice what it is they have been taught.

    First and foremost, definition would require one to look at the underlying principles in an art.
    for example:
    Approach: Does the art attack directly or indirectly
    Force: Yield or meet
    Body use: is the entire body used in a relaxed manner from beginning to end
    Intent: Can you see the person's intent through their use of posture, facial expression and body language

    In Kosho, principles like Ju - 柔 (yielding), and kuzushi - 崩し (off-balancing), should be in your top of mind awareness when studying.

    A Kosho practitioner should never meet force with force and the opponent should neither see or feel the intent until the moment of impact (punch, strike, kick, lock or throw)
    Kosho is all about sensitivity, blending, and confusing your opponents senses.
    Mitose sensei's referral to his Kempo as "jiu-jitsu" was done for this reason.
    While it is influenced by 唐手 (karate, meaning chinese hand and not the okinawan arts) it is most definitely jujutsu, but more of an aiki-jujutsu.

    In short, is Kosho internal? Yes, in theory.......but it is completely upto the practitioner to adhere to the principles that make it that way.

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    Default Re: Kosho Shorei Kempo - Internal or External?

    Hi Shawn,

    Good topic. I think the amazing thing about Kosho ryu is the internal aspect.

    Kosho is only as destructive as your opponent is aggressive. Simply put, it takes little effort to execute effective self defense. It has little to do with physical strength or size (external), but has a lot to do with knowing how, when, and where to move (internal).

    Additionally, I've been the recipient of this Kosho method (I think Juchnik Hanshi calls it Layering in his Strategies text):

    I experienced a flurry of soft, quick strikes that didn't hurt at all but almost caused me to toss my cookies from motion sickness. It was one of the most bizarre physical phenomena I've ever experienced (I've never been one to get sick from my senses). It was mostly me trying to attack, but avoid the many obstacles placed in front of me by my Sensei (fists, feet, open hands, etc.)

    Then you have Yoga.. It starts as being external as one fights with oneself to obtain various postures. Then as the Kosho training and experience increases, the yoga becomes a process of relaxing and realizing. Even a highly physical activity such as yoga requires more internal training than external training.

    On the other hand, and now that I think about it, another phase of my Kempo has begun. This one is more external as I work my kata in a state of mushin and there is no thinking involved. In fact, my movement has become more of a natural motion rather than a plan to respond in a given manner.

    So in conclusion I think it's a process that involves both .

    It's a really good question.. I hope more discussion ensues..

    Ben

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    Default Re: Kosho Shorei Kempo - Internal or External?

    hi Ben,

    you made some great points as to what it feels like to be on the receiving end of some well done onna no atemi.

    as far as kata goes.....ive always practiced 2 ways, 1) using fluid motion similar to practicing tai chi, but at a faster pace, and 2) with more rigid structure and obvious movement.
    i think its important to understand both types of movement because they are both applicable to self defense and understanding motion.

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    Talking Re: Kosho Shorei Kempo - Internal or External?

    Hi Shawn,

    Good topic and good posting. I belive you are on top of the martial art chain here, with your thought's.

    The aspect of true defense is not being in the position to be hurt or harmed in the first place. If you can not have that position then there are many alternatives. Knowing your own limitations is right at the top in my opinion.

    The way to find those (limitations), is, through training and working out and being aware at all times.
    Paronoia, is really a condition that has been coined by the mental health society, is mis-applied in todays standards, IMHO...

    If you believe it is not something that warriors have in common then you are not going to be a warrior. You are just another misguided person in warriors clothing...

    I don't feel you have to be suspicious of everything only 98% of the time...LOL The other 2% is for when you might be caught off guard if you think like you should as a warrior. Bruce Lee was a perfect example. IMHO


    Awareness is the key, not to be confussed with Paranoia of today...Delusions of granduer, not if you know your limitations. Persecution! Only if you allow it to occur.

    Train! Keep in shape mentally and physically, be aware. Internal and external... Pretty simple when you are aware.

    Regards, Gary

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    Default Re: Kosho Shorei Kempo - Internal or External?

    great topic...

    I feel that Kosho has elements of both styles of martial arts. There is strong precussion and the need for preemptive striking and at the same time there is the need to escape and evade while limiting an opponents response and destroying his ablity to counter attack (got to love those muscular strikes.)

    Regards,
    Walt

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    Default Re: Kosho Shorei Kempo - Internal or External?

    i think the delivery of the strikes in kosho tend to be done with a more "internal" mindset.....at least they are for me. even the big otoko-no-atemi strikes.......alignment and breathing play an important role.

    its like the concepts being discussed on the latest kosho thread on martialtalk. while kosho is similar in many ways to other japanese arts, it definitely does have a certain flavour in the way in which it is delivered.

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    Default Re: Kosho Shorei Kempo - Internal or External?

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackcatbonz
    i think the delivery of the strikes in kosho tend to be done with a more "internal" mindset.....at least they are for me. even the big otoko-no-atemi strikes.......alignment and breathing play an important role.

    its like the concepts being discussed on the latest kosho thread on martialtalk. while kosho is similar in many ways to other japanese arts, it definitely does have a certain flavour in the way in which it is delivered.
    LOL

    havn't heard it put like that before.

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    Default Re: Kosho Shorei Kempo - Internal or External?

    Hello.

    I have a different take on the internal / external idea of martial arts. I believe your martial arts move from being external in the beginning, to internal if you allow it to become part of your life; regardless of style/system.

    I've seen many people who practice martial arts in the dojo but don't truly bring the lessons with them when they take their gi off. These people might be able to hold their own against an attacker, but they will not be executing their skills from the inside (subconscious). Instead they will constantly be thinking about what's going on and their mind will be cluttered.

    I also believe that most students of the martial arts are capable of internalizing their art to at least a minute level. But, in my opinion, most do not get past that point.

    In short I believe that all martial arts are meant to be internalized by the practitioner. We should constantly be looking into our self to get the real picture of who we are. If you are only looking out at others to find out who you are.... you will only, at best, get a foggy reflection of the true you.

    Just my thoughts.


    With respect,
    John Evans

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    Default Re: Kosho Shorei Kempo - Internal or External?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kosho-Monk
    1. I've seen many people who practice martial arts in the dojo but don't truly bring the lessons with them when they take their gi off. These people might be able to hold their own against an attacker, but they will not be executing their skills from the inside (subconscious). Instead they will constantly be thinking about what's going on and their mind will be cluttered.


    2. In short I believe that all martial arts are meant to be internalized by the practitioner.

    3. We should constantly be looking into our self to get the real picture of who we are. If you are only looking out at others to find out who you are.... you will only, at best, get a foggy reflection of the true you.

    Just my thoughts.


    With respect,
    John Evans
    1. I've seen this happen quite a bit as a doorman. People would introduce themselves to me as martial arts practitioners (just in case i ever needed their help) and they would ask me if i had any training. Sometimes these same people would get into trouble and you would see them deviate from any sort of game plan as soon as a struggle took place. I think that some people think they would look silly if other people saw them doing something that "looked" like karate, and therefore shy away from using it, much to their detriment.

    2. I believe this also; some arts have a different route to getting you there. Others leave it up to the individual through constant study and practice. Martial arts is kind of like music in that respect......some people can sit down with a piece of sheet music and be a really good technician, others can improvise and make it up as they go along through their understanding of the principles.

    3. This goes along with the thinking that you are your greatest teacher.

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    Default Re: Kosho Shorei Kempo - Internal or External?

    Shawn,

    I wonder if the person is concerned with looking silly (maybe their martial arts are silly looking to begin with?) or if they are just not true believers of what they practice.

    I find that many are great in the dojo when the situation is safe. But get them out into an unknown situation and they freeze up. These people in my opinion are external martial artists. I see this a lot these days.


    With respect,
    John

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    Default Re: Kosho Shorei Kempo - Internal or External?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kosho-Monk
    Shawn,

    I wonder if the person is concerned with looking silly (maybe their martial arts are silly looking to begin with?) or if they are just not true believers of what they practice.

    I find that many are great in the dojo when the situation is safe. But get them out into an unknown situation and they freeze up. These people in my opinion are external martial artists. I see this a lot these days.


    With respect,
    John
    I think it may be a bit of both.
    Last year sometime there was a clip of a young man getting ready to do battle with some punk......in it, the young man got into his best kung fu fighting stance.....(while im not a believer in dropping down into a stance because it can give your opponent {if they are a savvy fighter} some insight into punching distances etc)......he then proceeded to fight his fight. He ended up beating the guy, but every martial arts guy on the web carved on the video about his kung fu.
    he believed in his stuff....and it worked for him.

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    Default Re: Kosho Shorei Kempo - Internal or External?

    Dear god...I remember that video. I saw it on DVD (lol).

    I think that like you said in the original post that it is up to the practioner to adher to one style or another. I think in the beginning we are all external stylists. As we get more comfortable with what we do we tend to internalize the concepts. All it takes is one look at a verteran of any art that makes it look effortless and you pretty much have your answer.

    Regards,
    Walt

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