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Effortless Power With The Chinese Internal Martial Arts

Apr 4, 2008
Chinese martial arts are divided into two types: the external and the internal.

Definition of Internal Martial Arts

External martial arts are the most common. They are found not just in China, but all over the world. They are called the hard styles, because the power they manifest is as hard as rock or steel. They utilize pure muscular power in their techniques and movements, and require great stamina and endurance to use or perform.

Internal martial arts on the other hand are the soft styles. This is because their movements are unusually soft but are as equally powerful as the external styles. Examples of these arts are Taijiquan (Grand Ultimate Fist), Xingyiquan (Form and Mind Fist) and Bagua Zhang (Eight Trigram fist).

Taijiquan is a very famous example. Most people usually dismiss this art as simply a slow and relaxing form of exercise because of its gentle and elegant movements. Indeed, Taijiquan is seen as powerless, and most people don't know the true reasons behind its movements. Taijiquan is actually a deadly martial art created hundreds of years ago in China.

Taijiquan, as well as the other internal martial arts, utilize the use of Qi/Chi to manifest power. This Chi is defined by the Chinese as the energy that circulates in all of human beings and in the universe. Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, a practitioner of Yang style Taijiquan, proposes that Chi is synonymous with bioelectricity and has made valid theoretical proposals regarding the matter in his books.

In order to make Chi flow correctly in order to manifested as Jing (internal power), the body needs to be soft and the mind calm. That is why internal martial arts do not rely on muscular power, and thus their movements are mostly soft. Any abrupt tension in the body's muscles can disrupt the flow of Chi and thus renders the practitioner unable to utilize any form of power.

Examples of Internal Martial Arts and Parts of Their History

The creation of Taijquan is credited to the monk Zhang, San-Feng hundreds of years ago. However, it is said that there are several other martial artists who have come up with the fundamentals of Taijiquan but records are obscure. Zhang received most of the credit because there has been more records attributed to him.

Like Taijiquan, Xingyiquan's actual creator is unknown but since he published the Ten Theses of the art, the general Yue Fei is the acknowledged creator of Xingyi. Among the three (including Bagua Zhang), Xingyi is often mistaken for an external martial art because of its hard appearance, but the power of Xingyi is similar to rattan. When the movements are initiated the body remains soft but suddenly tenses at the time of contact.

Bagua Zhang is created by Dong Hai-Chuan. Its power is similar to Taijiquan, but Bagua utilizes circle walking in its training forms. Its philosophy places an emphasis on circular movements, including defensive and offensive applications.

There is a sort of elegance in the appearance of internal martial arts. They require a high state of nothingness of the mind in order to attain the calmness needed to truly manifest their power. Yet behind their beautiful movements and postures lie a deadly power that holds almost no rival in fighting.
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