Quite often different martial arts are described into 2 different categories, Internal and external martial arts. On a simple level, a typical external or hard style is arts such as Karate, Muy Thai, Boxing etc. Internal arts are typically Tai Chi, Hsing-i, Ba Gua, and of course our very own I Liq Chuan.
External Martial Arts
External arts are about using the power from muscular strength and developing power generated by the body, typically a conditioned external practitioner will develop their power from conditioning training to build the body up through tension and physical training. External usually suits the younger person where they get to burn up a lot of energy and get fit, build the body up to be strong and powerful looking, in fact you can say the by-product of external arts training is a buffed up and developed body. Typical a martial artist that trains in external practices alone will find as they age they will struggle to keep the training up unless they incorporate some of the internal training methods in their training.
Internal Martial Arts
The internal practitioners develop their power from internal energy. These people train to move in a slow, relaxed, soft and fluid motion, the body or Adrenalin is not their source of power. This is seen from the less experience as being for health and can not possibly be for fighting however when trained correctly can be more effective study than a technique based art. The internal arts are quite often associated with health cultivation due to the breathing and meditation however this is not their primary purposes despite popular belief. The internal arts definitely focus on developing the mind and the Chi or energy.
Is categorising that simple
Describing an art as being external or internal is a lot more difficult than our explanation above, some of the arts can be viewed as being both external and internal. The definition is not as simple as stereo typing an art one way or another. For example some Internal martial arts train very hard on conditioning the body despite paying a lot of attention towards developing the internal energy, meditation and the fluid movements and Chi breathing commonly found in internal arts. Some of the arts typically defined as a hard style have evolved over time to incorporate the focus towards internal practices. It is also common that training for beginners start with external training techniques but as the practitioner progresses towards a higher level, or as they age, their training becomes more focused towards the qualities found in traditional internal styles. So the difference between external and internal has now become very blurred and down to the individual practitioner.
I Liq Chuan is very much defined as an internal Chinese martial art. It’s aim is to understand the inner feel and express that outward. Relaxation is also an essential component. Relaxation contains looseness, softness and elasticity. It is based on Tai Chi and Zen principles.
Come down and find out more about internal and external martial arts.