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    Sifu Peter J. Chang

    External & Internal Martial Arts<br>
    Different Paths…Same Destination<br>
    By Sifu Peter J. Chang<br> <br>
    Martial art students often wonder what the differences are between “external” & “internal” martial arts. Because a system or style is soft doesn’t necessarily mean that it is internal.
    In the Chinese fighting systems there are two schools of thought concerning methods of training and their philosophies, the external and the internal. Although there are over three hundred systems of Chinese martial arts, the internal schools encompass only a few styles. <br>
    These three main branches of Internal Chinese Martial Arts are Tai Chi Chuan – Grand Ultimate Fist, Bagua Zhang – Eight Trigram Palms, and Xing-I Chuan – Mind Intention Fist. There are a few “off-shoots” but these are the main systems when referring to Chinese Internal Martial Arts. All other systems and styles are considered external. <br>
    A martial art that is external in the Chinese system will begin their training using strength, power, speed and technique. This type of practice will continue until a desired physical level is achieved. Advanced training would incorporate their particular type of hard “qigong” into their practice to bridge the external with the internal. This qigong would provide the internal aspect of their style with emphasis on breathing and internal introspection. <br>
    There are various explanations regarding what constitutes a martial art internal. But they all share one thing in common and that is the awareness of the internal quality of their practice. <br>
    Emphasis is put on relaxation, body alignment and introspection of movement as opposed to muscular strength, speed and tension. <br>
    The philosophy and approach of the two different schools of thought are considered as separate paths leading to the same goal. Whereas, the internal school of thought teaches theory and principle that will lead to technique, the external school of thought teach technique that will lead to theory and principle. An internal art emphasizes relaxation that will lead to firmness while an external art emphasize firmness that will lead to relaxation. Although internal and external styles have different methodologies of practice, at the higher levels of skill they share similar qualities. <br>
    “External” arts will eventually take you through the “internal”, and “internal” arts will eventually express through the “external.”
    All martial arts follow different paths up the same mountain, but the end result is the same

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