When you watch a demonstration of any internal martial art, rarely do you see any striking. It's often a well conditioned student grabbing hold of the instructor's wrist and then flying through the air. I'll admit that the majority of those professing anything internal or energy related are nothing but great illusionists (for more information on this, read "Distinguishing Chi Frauds From True Internals"). But what if I told you that true internal systems also teach solid striking?
When you think of "striking" martial arts, styles like kempo, karate, kung fu and taekwondo come to mind, right? However, as I've discussed in previous articles, every martial art teaches the same fundamentals at their core. Internal properties can be found in many karate kata, particularly those of Okinawan origin. Goju-Ryu is an excellent example of an art that has the potential for decent internals. But the reverse is true as well.
When someone traditionally practices aiki age, it's from a wrist grab and their hand is relaxed as they create the rise. Is it really too far of a distinction to use the same mechanics, same internal processes when delivering an upper cut? The same is true for aiki sage. Instead of creating a dropping throw, what if it became a downward-angled punch driven by a solid internal structure?
The difference is that now power is generated by using the body as a cohesive unit, rather than the traditional "crispness" of a karate-style strike. With that downward-angled punch, you should be expanding your core (tanden and meimon) in both directions as well as using your lats and teres muscles to create force. Your entire body weight sinks into the strike as you ground yourself with a solid foundation, rather than just throwing the arm out with a snap of the hip. Not to mention a relaxed body is able to move faster than one that's tense, locking itself into the punch (Force = mass x acceleration).
The human body is resilient, and the outer muscles are designed to absorb and disperse impact to protect the internal organs and vital targets. By infusing your striking with the structurally sound body and principles of internal power, you end up with a strike that deeply penetrates the outer defenses of the body to affect those vital targets. You're no longer simply causing pain, you're causing damage, and if the reality of the modern world has taught us anything, it's that self defense must be simple and devastating.
These are just two examples of how internal principles can be applied to striking techniques. Keep in mind that learning internal martial arts must be done through hands-on instruction. No amount of articles or videos will be able to convey completely what is going on within our own bodies. Internal structure and power is something that must be developed over time, until your body is completely rewired to function normally with proper structure. Should you be interested in learning more about internal striking, be sure to check out the upcoming USAMA Seminar of Brotherhood in May of 2017!