A Brief Look At The Unique Strengths And Benefits Of The Internal Martial Arts

By Imelda Reid

There are no hard and fast rules as to what constitutes an internal vs. An external martial art, but broadly, external approaches focus on the development of physical power and skills. The emphasis is on muscular strength and powerful movements. Internal martial arts on the other hand, have more focus on mental and spiritual development.

It's more of an approach centered on inner power and is reflected in softer, more fluid movements. These movements are often graceful and beautiful to behold when executed by master practitioners. This grace and beauty can be deceptive however, since the inner power behind them gives them an impressive force. They are unquestionably formidable and can have as much combat utility as the more overtly aggressive external techniques.

In fact, although there is much focus on inner work, muscular strength and overall physical poise are by no means neglected. Exercises in hand-to-hand combat, weapons training, stance and stretching exercises can all form part an internal approach. The aim though, is always to incorporate physical prowess into a broader alignment and coordination of mind, body and spirit.

The inner calm and emotional control developed by internal practitioners can often give them an edge over their more overly aggressive external counterparts. This inner poise comes in large measure from the development of qi. This is the formless, invisible life-force energy that according to Chinese tradition, circulates throughout the human body. Internal practices aim to develop qi levels and the ability to move it around the body at will.

The overarching goal of qi development is to strengthen the body from the inside-out. This fosters physical health and a greater capacity to execute techniques with skill and poise. A healthy individual can hit better and harder, and also be better able to withstand an opponent's blows. Robust health also enables practitioners to maintain their abilities well into old age. Many masters of these arts remain a force to be reckoned with well into their 70's.

One of the main ways that qi is developed is through breath work. It is generated and manipulated through specialized deep breathing techniques and involves re-training students to breathe from the abdomen. This can be challenging since most people habitually breathe shallowly and from the upper chest. However, once learned, students can begin to increase their qi and become attuned to its presence in their bodies.

An important aspect of this greater sensitivity is the ability to detect where qi has become blocked, or where there is too much or too little. These imbalances can be remedied by focusing and manipulating the qi in the areas of the body that are affected. In addition to qi development, deeper, fuller breathing allows for a much greater intake of oxygen. This gives practitioners greater reserves of energy as well as supporting overall health.

The health-boosting properties are one of the main reasons why so many health-conscious people in the US now practice techniques like Qigong. In trend-leading states like California, many people are reaping the benefits of the greater mental and physical poise that these techniques offer. Even short-term practice can yield subtle but very real results, longer-term practice transforms these results from pleasant to genuinely life-changing.

About the Author:

1 comment:

  1. Did you know you can create short links with LinkShrink and get dollars for every visitor to your shortened links.