What is the difference between internal and external martial arts?

The external martial arts, such as kung fu, boxing, karate and tae kwon do, generate powerful movements from tense, muscles and use muscular strength, bursts of physical tension, growls and sometimes overt aggression that is often catalyzed by the release of adrenaline. The internal martial arts, for example tai chi, hsing-i, ba gua, and Aikido, generate movements from chi energy. Practitioners’ bodies move in a relaxed, soft, and fluid manner. The internal martial arts do not encourage overt emotional aggression and anger as a primary power source. People who have difficulty comprehending how tai chi’s slow movements can translate into fast fighting will have even more difficulty understanding how fighting that does not engage emotional aggression and anger can be as or more effective than fighting techniques that do.

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Because Dragon and Tiger Qigong is a simple and effective qigong practice, it is taught to students at the College of Integrated Chinese Medicine. Tracing the meridian lines helps our students to become more sensitive to both their own and their patients' chi and enables them to become better acupuncturists.

John Hicks