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Internal and Exernal Tai Chi : Point of Difference

August 2, 2015

The Tai Chi community is developing a clearer understanding of the difference between internal and external Tai Chi practice.

External practice

Importance of physical movement
Develops sinews, bones and skin
Emphasizes and values technique
Uses physical power to manage body movement
More Yang focused on what you can see
Discharge of power is localized and visible
Power is channeled upward toward the hands
Uses dynamic movement to control
End goal is the control of others

Internal Practice

Develops Chi
Emphasizes and values the movement of chi
More Yin focused on what you cannot see
Uses chi circulation to move the body as a whole
Sends chi down to the dantian and roots through the feet
All parts of the body move together and the waist leads the four limbs and the hands in all movements
Emphasizes mind intent, not physical power
End goal is control of self
Discharge of power is invisible

One could debate the benefits to the body and the effectiveness in self protection of using external power or internal chi power in external or internal practice.  In reality, both are complimentary and can and do co-exist in the practice of Tai Chi.  Perhaps in the end, it is more a matter of emphasis than exclusion or superiority of one over the other.  The important thing for the Tai Chi practitioner is to know what you are practicing!