King Fu Tea to your attention.
There is seemingly endless discussion about "internal" vs "external" in martial arts. For myself, I don't find the internal vs external distinction very useful. There are simply different ways to go about generating power.
An excerpt is below. The full article may be read here. Enjoy.
Defining Neijia: What are the “internal art?”
Not knowing any better, one might think that there is a social
hierarchy in the Chinese martial arts. In the world of popular (or
folk) styles there are a variety of schools and approaches. Some of the
most famous of these claim, or actually have, an association with the
Shaolin Temple. Yet for other students, the Shaolin styles still lack
something. More prestigious still are the “internal” styles (neijia).
What exactly makes a martial art “internal,” as opposed to
“external,” is a matter of perpetual debate. For some teachers it has
to do with the sort of energy work, or manipulation of qi, that the
martial artist performs. Training routines for building and channeling
“qi” tend to be associated with the internal arts. Of course the
performance teams trained by the Shaolin Temple are more than happy to
demonstrate their own feat of qi mastery and “hard qigong.”
Another explanation I have run across is that external martial arts
attempt to move the body (perhaps for a punch or kick) by using the
muscles, whereas internal arts “stack bones” in the skeletal system so
that power in a punch or kick can be gained through mechanical
leverage. You are literally letting physics do the work for you.
I quite like this explanation because when you teach the martial
arts, you do become aware that
some techniques and styles rely more on
the principal of leverage than others. This explanation seems to have
some value in actually explaining physical observations. But I am also
quite sure this is not what the discussion was originally about.
Understanding where these expressions evolved and how they came to be
applied to the modern martial arts is a real puzzle, both for the
historical scholar and the practitioner of the modern Chinese martial
arts. We were all taught in graduate school that the first question you
ask when you come across a puzzling observation is “What is this a case
of?” The unstated assumption here is that things with similar
characteristics and functions might share a similar origin. Or at
minimum, knowing that something fits into a given category of analysis
suggests what theories can be used to analyze it.
So for instance, if you tell me that Taiji and Wing Chun are both
internal martial arts, this suggests that they might share a common
ancestry (perhaps with General Qi Jiquan “32 Forms” as Stanley Henning
suggests). Alternatively, if philosophical and Daoist ideas are
important for understanding Taiji, should I spend months translating
texts and conducting expert interviews with Wing Chun Sifus in Hong
Kong, China, Germany, Canada and the UK looking for similar ideas. Do I
need to familiarize myself with the more esoteric side of the Taiji
Classics and the later writings of Sun Lutang? Or would my time and
research budget be better spent working on some other line of