Internal vs External.

February 10, 2009

history

A well-written concise article about this age old topic:-

INTERNAL VS. EXTERNAL

What Sets Them Apart?

By Tim Cartmell


Introduction
There has been a great deal of discussion over whether a martial art is internal or external, and the differences between the two. Most people familiar with Chinese martial art probably associate the internal with exercises for health, softness and “chi,” and associate the external with strength, hardness and fighting. We should start by defining the criteria which qualify an art as internal or external. It is very popular today to talk about internal martial arts as being methods of cultivating the chi (intrinsic energy), whereas external martial arts favor building physical strength.
The first question is, “What exactly is chi?” And once we have come to what we believe is an adequate definition, the next question should deal with the relationship chi has to martial ability. Finally, we come back to the question of why internal martial arts would cultivate chi in some way that external martial arts do not. The point is, both internal and external martial arts talk about chi development; saying a martial art is internal because it “has chi” is not valid. The difficulty in defining chi has led some martial artists to conclude that chi doesn’t exist at all, therefore there is no difference between internal and external martial arts. But there definitely is a difference, and it does not depend on whether or not one believes in chi.
Let’s put aside the whole question of chi and talk about similarities and differences among the three orthodox internal styles (as representatives of internal styles in general) and external martial arts from a more tangible point of view. Let’s compare and contrast the martial arts from the standpoint of body mechanics, mindset, and application. The real difference between the internal and external martial arts is not chi, softness/hardness, or which is better for health; rather, it boils down to how specific movements are done in a particular mindset, and how these apply to real fights. (Full Article.)

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