Interview with Chris Li about “Internal Power” training in Martial Arts

Chris Li

Below is an interview that originally appeared on Nick Porter’s The Way You Practice blog. Following the English interview is a translation in Spanish by Juantxo Ruiz.


Hey folks! What follows below is an interview with Chris Li, a martial artist who has primarily trained in Aikido. He’s a great resource within the Aikido community regarding the history of the art and a very approachable guy. He also trains in “internal power”, which is something that never made sense to me, even when I trained Aikido. At best, it seemed like an overly complicated explanation of biomechanics. At worst, it looks like straight up woo-woo.

So rather than continue to flame online, I decided to ask someone in the know, and Chris was gracious enough to take some time and attempt to explain it to me. Perhaps I’m just a bad interviewer, but I’m still not sure I get it. What do you all think? Is there something to Internal Power training? Is it useful for martial artists?


Chris Li (CL) has been training in Aikido since 1981, and has also trained in Judo with a former coach of the Japanese and US Olympic teams and in Shito-ryu Karate, as well as several lineages of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu. He spent some 15 years living, training, and teaching in Japan. He has been training with Dan Harden, in his Sangenkai organization, since 2010.


Nick Porter (NP): Thanks for taking the time to talk to me about this. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of “internal power” but the actual practice vs preach seemed a difficult sell to me. To start, so that we’re on the same page can you define what you mean when you say “Internal Power?”

CL: Sam Chin once said to me “the thing about internal …continue reading