What is the difference between External martial arts and Internal martial arts?

14 Answers 14


This is not the best answer, though it is an answer.

"Internal" and "External" can be traced through Sun Lu Tang's writings on the "Neijia". Being of the Chinese literati, he used the words 內 (internal) vs. 外 (external) because it has double meanings. Besides the connotations of "esoteric" and "exoteric", those words were widely used to describe "domestic" and "foreign." Some martial arts express Taoist (that is, "domestic") philosophical principles. Some martial arts express Buddhist principles. Since Shaolin, like Buddhism, came from India, this makes Shaolin and Shaolin-derived arts as "foreign" arts.

When you dig deeper into the histories, it gets murkier. But in general, the Chinese are proud of being Chinese and like to point out things that originate from the Chinese as evidence of a superior civilization.

When American practitioners came back from China and Taiwan, the connotations of "domestic" and "foreign" got lost in the translation. The connotation of "esoteric" and "exoteric" got exaggerated out of proportion. And now the Internet has amplified this confusion.

I'd spend less time worrying about exact definitions of "internal" vs. "external" and more time in practicing the art. "External" arts will eventually take you through the "internal", and "internal" arts will eventually express through the "external." Don't cheat yourself.

Update 2014/02/19: To clarify the controversy, I'm well aware that the sense of "internal" vs. "external" in use, particularly in America, refers to some notion that external arts tend to use brute physical strength, and internal arts use whole body motion or perhaps refined with qi (氣). There is further, an argument that English is a living language, and should reflect the actual usage. That is a fair point. However, in this case, the popular usage of "external" vs. "internal" is a misconception -- a distortion that happened when it was taken out of context of the original culture and further distorted for marketing purposes.

For example, Shaolin (少林) is considered many by Western practitioners as an "external" art in the sense that it seems to use a lot of brute physical motions. This is a misconception. There is quite a bit of whole body motion training, ground path, and qi development. In other words, if you used "internal" vs. "external" to designate power generation in a lineage, this distinction is fuzzy. It is fuzzy because that distinction only appears in the minds of people who are marketing their art, either as teachers trying to attract students, or students trying to posture.

As another example, from what I've seen with Systema practitioners, their body movements and power generation expresses many of the principles found in what Western practitioners would call "internal". My encounter with Systema is fairly shallow, but I have never heard a Systema practitioner talk a big deal out of "internal" vs. "external" or posture about it. These folks train hard.

Further, if you investigate the origins even further, you'll find that what we now considered "internal" as far as the woo goes, that is, the neigong (內功) was traditionally taught as separate practices. It was not unknown for say, a Xingyi (形意) or a Shaolin practitioner to learn neigong from a different lineage. Neigong as a practice has never been restricted to a martial art, and so there are no martial art for which there is an inherent practice of neigong. It was only when the literati like Sun Lu-tang practiced it, they also did what they did best as one of the educated elites: documented, categorized and talked about it, and perhaps befuddled it.

So the neigong, what could arguably distinguish "internal" from "external" was never a distinguishing factor of a particular lineage. It was a distinguishing factor of the individual practitioner.

In other words: there is no such thing as an "internal art" or an "external art". However, there are individual practitioners who might express an art "internally" or "externally". If we want to use the Western sense of "internal" vs. "external", then use it distinguish the skill attainment of a practitioner rather than the art itself.

If you want to use it to distinguish lineages, the original distinction is a lot more useful ... if you are Chinese or Taiwanese and want to be proud of your homegrown Taoist lineage, defend the honor of your civilization, and all that crap.

Update 2014-04-10: I've seen some new things. I don't have anything coherent to share yet. I would have preferred to delete this answer outright but StackExchange will not allow me to delete accepted answer. Instead, I've made edits to say that this is an answer, not a bad story to tell about on this subject, and not the final word on the subject. I'm tempted to just erase the text, but people can check revision edits so there is no point.

  • 2
    It's not controversial - it's actually well documented that the above answer is the origin of the terms. Does it reflect current meaning? Maybe not. Commented Feb 6, 2012 at 13:04
  • @Ho-ShengHsiao I'd be interested to read some more into this if someone can provide some references or places to look. The only other thing I can really find on this topic, other then the normal line of thinking, is that Internal/External were more of a advertising tactic. But I always figured that meant they were trying to advertise the 'stronger' art. Could very well be that I misunderstood and they were advertising domestic verses foreign. Very interesting.
    – Swift
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 0:34
  • @Ho-ShengHsiao Thanks for the link. Might take you up on the PM offer, always great to learn something new!
    – Swift
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 0:56
  • 1
    Hi Trevoke - see the first paragraph under history for a start: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neijia Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 3:35
  • 1
    The trouble is the wikipedia article also draws on Sun Lu Tang as a source. Read Douglas Wile's books
    – Wudang
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 19:17

An external martial art is one in which the emphasis is on physical application of force (whether your own or the opponents force redirected) to cause damage to your opponent. This is the case whether you are relaxed (re-directed force or joint locks etc.) or applying force directly via the application of brute strength.

An internal martial art is one in which the emphasis is on application of chi energy in order to disable the opponent. Once again, this is regardless of whether you are relaxed or applying what looks to be a strong, physical movement.

Internal martial arts stress the training of chi via exercises like Chi Gong and External martial arts stress the training of physical/muscular strength. This generalisation is true particularly at beginner levels. Later on both schools of thought tend to come back closer to the centre more often than not.

Added info:

The above info is the classical definition of an Internal or External martial art.

There are also hard and soft styles. For example an external martial style can use redirection and deflection instead of applying direct opposing force, without it being thought of as internal. Similarly an internal style can apply what appears to be direct application of force to combat an attack, once again without being thought of as external.

  • is one in which the emphasis is on application of chi energy - more specifically, the internal arts concentrate on utilising or manipulating the eight internal meridians. External arts also use chi although it isn't as commonly taught.
    – slugster
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 9:46
  • 2
    @CuinnWylie - Arguable, but even if you reject the notion of Qi/Chi/Ki (as I do... Filthy stuff. Never touch it. :D), the fundamental difference boils down to the method of generating power. The external see the body as the sum of its parts, cultivating the individual components into weapons through training such as iron palm. The internal generate power from the center of balance (dan tien), making use of the rotation and explosive energy of the body as a whole. Chi is often used as an explanation in external as well as internal arts.
    – stslavik
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 23:34
  • @stslavik - I think that there is some confusion between Internal/External and Soft/Hard. Both internal and external martial arts can be soft or hard. The classical definition of external and internal is in my answer above (whether you reject or accept the notion of chi). Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 0:26
  • 1
    @CuinnWylie: No, there's no confusion, at least not on my end, though I can understand why you might think so. I'm trimming away the mysticism with an explanation of the core focus of internal styles. Another term used is "relaxed tension" (RMA). This differentiates from "soft" concepts like "aiki", "blending", "nagare", etc... In other words, I'm agreeing with you, without agreeing to the concept of chi, which is why I posted as a comment (which should strengthen your answer) rather than an answer (which would potentially detract from the strength of both our arguments).
    – stslavik
    Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 5:08
  • @stslavik - Makes sense, thanks for clarifying. :-) Commented Feb 2, 2012 at 23:32

The Neijia mailing list, which was the vehicle created by Mike Sigman in the late 1990s to promote serious development of the internal martial arts, defined the internal martial arts to be those that respected the six harmonies (Sigman 2012a, 2012b).

The list followed the classical definition of the six harmonies due to (Dai Longbang 1750), a master of Xingyi:

External Harmonies

  1. The hands harmonize with the feets.
  2. The hips harmonize with the shoulders.
  3. The elbows harmonize with the knees.

Internal Harmonies

  1. The heart harmonizes with the intention.
  2. The intention harmonizes with the Chi.
  3. The Chi harmonizes with the movement.

When internal and external harmonies unite you have the six directions. When the six harmonies are perfectioned you obtain the six ferocities.

(Dai Longbang 1750) The Six Harmonies Fists, verse translation from http://www.centrosanti.com.ar/articulos/ver/the-6-harmonies

(Sigman 2012a) Silk Reeling, aka Six Harmonies Movement

(Sigman 2012b) "Internal" and Bragging Rights Perhaps a bit deeper than that?

  • Mike has created a 6H group on facebook. There's also a Greenoch Ninjas group for old (way way old) rec.m-a posters.
    – Wudang
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 15:50

External and internal martial arts are the same thing, but they start from a different place. All martial arts follow different paths up the same mountain, but the end result is the same. Because a teacher can't take you all the way up the mountain does not mean the style is incomplete.

The limited point of view is this:

  • An external martial art will teach you to punch and kick.

  • An internal martial art will teach you self-discipline, meditation and how to throw fireballs (Sorry - I couldn't help it).

In truth, here is what is most likely accurate:

  • An internal martial art starts by turning the focus inward, letting the student become more aware of his body and mind, then building on these foundations to create complex movements and use that sensitivity to drive the applications.
  • An external martial art starts by bigger movements - like steps, blocks, kicks. It focuses on the outside first, and then eventually turns inwards to do what the internal martial arts start with.

It is the same mountain. Just a different path.


Try reading Doug Wile's 3 tai chi books "Tai chi touchstones", "Lost tai chi classics from the late ch'ing dynasty" and "Tai Chi Ancestors", all available from Amazon. Wile traces the first use of "internal" to (From the Lost Classics book)

Huang Tsung-hsi's (1610-95) "Wang Cheng-nang mu-chih ming" (Epitaph for Wang Cheng-nan) and his son Pai-chia's "Nei-chia ch'uan-fa" (Methods of the internal school of pugilism) which describes a strategy of "stillness overcoming movement" and "reversing the principles of Shaolin".

You may also find this blog post by Mike Sigman of interest where he covers a lot of ground in relation to internal arts.


A recently-created false dichotomy

From Kennedy & Guo's excellent book, Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals: A Historical Survey:

There are a number of classification schemes used when discussing Chinese martial arts. The one major thing they all have in common is that they are not very accurate.


Internal versus External

According to this scheme, Chinese martial arts are either internal or external or, to use another set of words, "soft styles" or "hard styles." The distinct is supposed to be based on whether the system gives priority to developing internal strength or external strength, which generally gets reduced to: does the system place a great emphasis on qi development or not?


In this classification scheme, the arts of Xingyi, Bagua, and Taiji-quan are the three major internal systems. Everything else is external. It parallels the Wudang versus Shaolin scheme.

The problem with the internal versus external scheme is that it is a false dichotomy. Xingyi practitioners do lots of push-ups and sit-ups, both of which are external strength exercises. In a similar vein, Hung Gar—ostensibly an external system—has an entire set, the Iron Wire set, devoted to internal development.... It is worth noting too that the internal-external classification scheme is of recent vintage, first being used in the late Qing and Republican period.

Chapter 7, page 78 of my copy. They go on to discuss the Shaolin/Wudang scheme, which as noted above is identical in grouping Taiji, Xingyi, and Bagua in opposition to other arts. The most relevant passage, quoted here, is on page 84:

How the Wudang branch (consisting of Xingyi, Bagua, and Taiji-quan) came to be one group is a complicated story. A lot of it has to do with personal friendships between masters and hometown loyalties and links. The bottom line is, a group coalesced in the late 1800s and its members viewed themselves as teachers of "Wudang martial arts."

The real basis for this division of Shaolin versus Wudang was simply the formation of a clique that included such luminaries as Sun Lu Tang and Li Cun Yi. They wanted a label to distinguish them and their martial systems.

To me, this explanation is the most convincing, and has clear implications. "Internal" is now recognized as a marketing term. It is meant to promote those three arts by excluding and subtly, by implication, denigrating others. It dovetails with mysticism and with the exotification of Asian culture to give Xingyi, Bagua, and Taiji cachet: they are the arts that can grant metaphysical powers. Other arts are merely physical.

  • The internal/external classification should not be the same as soft/hard. Judo, for example, uses the redirection of force and off-balancing (soft) to execute throws rather than use concussive strikes (hard), but is external (no mind or breathing training). Bagua and xingyi use concussive strikes (hard), but are internal.
    – mattm
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 21:37
  • @mattm The central thesis of Kennedy & Guo's point, which is backed up by history and current fact, is that internal/external is not a valid distinction. I'll add some more to explain the political origins of the grouping, which makes it clear how nonsensical and useless the dichotomy is. Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 22:18
  • Objectively, the classical internal martial arts have a strong early (and continuing) emphasis on non-martial activities like breathing, standing, walking in circles, and moving slowly. Considerations of effectiveness aside, it's appropriate to label this training approach because it is not easily explainable to a Western observer. Even if you think all martial arts end up in the same place, the path is quite different, especially at the beginning. This kind of training may be positive/neutral/negative depending on your perspective, but it is definitely a difference.
    – mattm
    Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 14:33
  • @mattm Perhaps you should read the specific examples in my post again. Hung gar has exercises you describe as "internal", as does BJJ, judo, many karate styles, and others. But the internal/external terminology was created specifically to promote three specific arts. When used to refer to styles it is a marketing term; when used to refer to practices it is vague and often leads to magical thinking. Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 14:43
  • I'm sorry, that was more rude than I intended. I think we may be talking past each other. I'm partial to the historical definition of "internal"; if someone uses the term to refer to particular practices I find it less than useful because of its vagueness. Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 14:51

External: the force is generated by local muscle.

Internal: the force is generated by the whole body, in which your waist and hips are the key part you need to coordinate well.

Any martial arts that can effectively use your whole body to generate the power of punching, grasping, etc., can be considered as an internal martial arts, or at least shares the same base of internal martial arts.

For high level practitioners, internal martial arts means you can not only generate power with your whole body, but also can change the direction, the amplitude, the position quickly and easily, up, down, in, out, left, right, front, back, clockwise, counter-clockwise, etc. Once you know how to do that, how to apply that to different scenarios, you know Yin-Yang, or in Tai-chi, you know how "jin" works

  • sigh, i will shut up then.'cus no one her really understands internal kungfu
    – shelper
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 17:17
  • 3
    I'm not the down voter, but I would suggest that the definition of 'internal' that you've given is not correct. For example I've always been taught that internal arts concentrate on power generation from and energy delivery to the internal energy meridians, whereas the external arts focused on delivering energy (force/pain) to the external parts of the body - but both internal and external could still utilise components of the other.
    – slugster
    Commented Dec 12, 2013 at 23:03
  • to be frank, you"'ve always been taught" by some one who doesnt understand chinese martial arts. Let me show you videos of my Shifu, you can watch at video.sina.com.cn/search/…
    – shelper
    Commented Dec 13, 2013 at 0:55
  • By that definition Shotokan and boxing are internal. See for example "Real punching" by Geoff Thompson
    – Wudang
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 6:12
  • 1
    @shelper : nothing to do with my comment. By his definition there are no external martial arts, and boxing and shotokan are internal by his definition. In both "the force is generated by the whole body, in which your waist and hips are the key part you need to coordinate well."
    – Wudang
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 17:58

I realize this subject is a minefield, in part because it is difficult to find common points of reference in discussing things like qi. With that in mind, I will try to illustrate concrete differences I have personally experienced in studying martial arts without direct reference to qi, and how it may help you to understand the content of different styles in a way the other answers here may not. The manner in which I differentiate between internal and external is in part an artifact of the schools where I have studied; these may not be totally representative of other internal or external styles/teachers. The points below are not meant in any way to be exhaustive.


A martial arts system need not have fighting as a primary goal. Internal systems first address the question, "How do we build a healthy human?" The originating question was probably, "How do we live forever?", but because the answer to that question so far is that we cannot, we have to look for the next best thing(s). Exercise is clearly an important element of building health, and it happens that the process of building a healthy human is also good for fighting applications. This internal process may take a LONG time. The general wisdom is that preparing the body for fighting takes much longer than learning fighting applications.

Some external practices may lead to profound fighting ability but also bodily damage, like say continually pounding metal plates may lead to devastating punches but also arthritis in the hands. This would be frowned upon in internal systems because it is damaging to the body.


There is a large emphasis on breathing in internal systems. The basic goal is to create a long, even, and relaxed breathing pattern that becomes the body's default. When I first started internal training, a full breathing cycle (inhale and exhale) was ~4 seconds. Now my resting breathing cycle is >20 seconds, and I have found this has a profound effect on both endurance while sparring and general health.

In external training, the guidance was usually along the lines of when to exhale, or to breathe through the nose rather than the mouth, or to breathe at a normal rather than rapid rate.


There are a lot of internal exercises for training relaxation. One example is standing in a natural posture with arms in the air without moving (zhan zhuang). If you try to do this for 10 minutes, you will probably find this becomes quite uncomfortable; your arms start to burn, or you feel like you need to shift your weight to relieve your legs. This exercise is not difficult in the same way that weight training is difficult; it forces you to understand what your body is doing in a situation where you may start thinking that your body is not doing anything. After regular practice, 10 minutes will not be a challenge.

In external training, there is a lot of guidance to "relax more" or to practice your form more times.


There are a lot of joints in the human body. As the human body ages, there are a lot of people who lose mobility in their joints, which leads to all manner of other health problems. Think about hunched posture among the elderly, the loss of mobility in the upper vertebrae is a bad sign of health problems to come. Internal systems basically try to train all joints, first for health reasons and then because it allows you to hit harder and push with more force.

I have done external training for leg splits using isometric and dynamic stretching. This kind of training is not easily transferable to other joints like those in your back, nor was it suggested that back flexibility could have a significant fighting utility.


When first learning striking, principles like rotation around the centerline and whipping power are easiest to learn with big motions to strike at distance. With proficiency, these same principles can be applied with condensed motions to strikes at very close distances or when already in contact. This is similar to Bruce Lee's one-inch punch (not sure whether to classify this as external or internal, or if it's even worthwhile worry about that). Sure, there is a loss in power versus the big motion where you have space to windup, but the power remaining at the master proficiency level is more than sufficient to drop a human.

  • Unfortunately these are ex-post-facto explanations. It's also a good example of how the internal/external dichotomy, instead of being an objective grouping, is just another marketing method for the arts marking themselves as "internal". In each of your points, "external" is a straw man to be improved upon, not a valid training method in its own right. Commented Jan 8, 2016 at 9:30

External MA is about explosive power. Think of a sprinter. Boom! He goes OUT from the gate. Internal is about implosive power. Think of a figure skater. Watch as she brings herself IN towards her core in order to spin faster.


may help clarify

  • 1
    Can you summarize the content from the link or quote relevant parts from it and use the link as a source? This will help prevent link rot in cases where the link will disappear or if its content changes.
    – user15
    Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 4:44
  • 1
    -1: Aikido is generally seen as an internal martial art but has plenty of "explosive" moves. Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 7:58
  • 1
    Interesting set of analogies, and a different perspective on the question, but I'm not sure that I agree with you. I'm not sure that this matches my experience in either Aikido or Taichi. And as @MattChan suggests, a summary of the boxing clip would have helped.
    – MCW
    Commented Dec 18, 2012 at 13:10
  • +1: Winding-in is an essential part of silk reeling, which (see Sigman 2012a, from my answer) might be said to characterise the distinctive power of the internal martial arts. Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 14:12
  • @Sardathrion Could you give an example of an explosive aikido move? Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 13:40

Internal martial arts use lots of chi to generate internal power (neijin). This force is not related to body mechanics, leverage, or muscular strength. At an advanced level, it can be exploded from any part of the body. Qigong is used to generate this power. Internal arts are known for producing extremely healthy practitioners.

External martial arts use bones, muscles, and body mechanics to generate power. It is dependent on muscular conditioning.

There really aren't clear cut lines though. There are plenty of taijiquan teachers who don't have neijin and use boxing-type moves in sparring. There are also shaolinquan exponents who have great internal power. Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit says this:

It is important to bear in mind that this division into internal and external kungfu is arbitrary and provisional. Actually there are more internal aspects in Shaolin Kungfu than in all the three famous internal styles put together!


On the very front page of his website, Master Waysun Liao says

you can cultivate and use your life energy for healing, martial arts


Here is a Q&A style answer to almost this exact question by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit.

This is a blog post by my Sifu regarding internal strength.

I don't think I need any sources to verify that external martial arts use bones, muscles, and body mechanics to generate power. That is easily verifiable as well as common knowledge.

  • -1, chi is mystical mumbo jumbo. Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 8:28
  • 1
    What is chi, if it causes physical effects? Shouldn't we have some sort of specific understanding of it, instead of just vaguenesses? Commented Jan 4, 2015 at 21:07
  • 2
    You don't see how saying "everything is qi" is vague? Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 15:40
  • 1
    I have no problem with alternate paradigms: "energy" is a word frequently used in discussions about interpersonal relationships or wrestling. Nobody has a problem with saying 'energy' as a descriptor in those contexts because use of the term doesn't snowball into claims about supernatural powers that defy belief and fall apart under scruinty. Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 16:03
  • 2
    And it's not using an "alternate paradigm" to say, ludicrously, "This force is not related to body mechanics, leverage, or muscular strength." Commented Jan 5, 2015 at 16:04

According to the history of Kung Fu, "internal" arts have their roots inside China while "external" arts have their roots elsewhere, e.g. India. In the context of America, MMA is an internal martial art, whereas greco-roman wrestling is external.


The distinction between Internal and External martial arts I believe is primary around kung fu and other Chinese martial arts and was a way to categorize the distinct styles of kung fu that existed.

An internal kung fu is one with progressive and slow forms that allow for almost a moving meditation. They are much more of a finesse art. Your focusing more on your soul, mind and chi to control and opponent and not relying brute strength or force. Using principals of rotation, deflection and evasion to overcome an opponent, making them beat themselves. A good example of an internal kung fu would be Tai Chi.

An external kung fu is more of an outward showing of force and aggression, can be characterized by sharp, fast and succinct motions. Moving with deliberate motions and with purpose. In an external style you will have direct attacks, your will beat your opponent with your force and will oppose your will on theirs. An example of an external style would be Wing Chun.

I think the distinction is pretty blurry, and possibly moot, now a days. A lot of martial arts have elements that one could categorize as either internal or external.

  • Tai Chi is the only one I know of that is slow - Hsing I Chuan and Bagua Zhang are not usually done slowly. Hsing I in particular is quite fast! Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 23:52
  • 2
    @WilliamMioch I've practiced xingyiquan and baguazhang both slow and fast. Slow practice is not exclusive to taijiquan, or even Chinese arts. So slow vs. fast is not a good description for internal vs. external. Commented Feb 6, 2012 at 2:40
  • 1
    Also taijiquan can be fast. I know both the Wu Jin Chuan and Chen family have fast sets.
    – Wudang
    Commented Mar 4, 2013 at 19:21
  • @Wudang - I've trained Beijing competition style (which is basically Wu style with some Chen mixed in), and that can be very fast. Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 14:06

External martial arts focus on concussive impacts. These impacts cause damage by hitting with more force. Training focuses on developing strength, speed and specific techniques.

Internal martial arts focus on using the leverage of the relaxed body to control an opponent. Training focuses on internalising (making second nature) a holistic set of attributes including correct posture, control over the tension-relaxation of muscles and correct positioning of the limbs and body without focusing on specific techniques.

I believe that internal-external is a spectrum, rather than absolutes.

  • I'd be curious to know the reason of the down votes.
    – tacone
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 23:42
  • 1
    Yea I'd agree, answer is pretty good in my opinion. I'd also completely agree with the spectrum comment.
    – Swift
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 23:58
  • 2
    I didn't downvote. However, there are "external" arts that "focus on using the leverage of the relaxed body to control an opponent." In other words, this does not describe the difference very well. Commented Feb 6, 2012 at 2:34
  • 1
    I didn't downvote but agree with Ho-Sheng. CF Judo versus Xing Yi or I-Chuan
    – Wudang
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 15:41
  • 2
    Those who like to pigeon hole things make two separate distinction internal/external and hard/soft. This goes to the hard/soft distinction rather than the internal/external. While it is true that more systems are hard-external (TKD, many karate systems) or soft-internal (what akido I've learned leaned this way, but I hate to make a strong claim for the whole discipline) than hard-internal (ba-gua maybe? I haven't done one of these) or soft-external (judo at least the way I started learning it), they are still two different ways to categorize a system. Commented Feb 27, 2013 at 20:18

There are no internal and external martial arts. Martial arts are of two kinds; Combat type ans Competive type. Combat type martial arts focuses mainly on real life situations, well-being, self-defense, etc. (Varma Kalai, Butthan, Bando, Kalaripayattu, Wing Chun, etc.) Competive type martial arts focuses mainly on tournaments, mat fights. (Taekwondo, Judo, Karate, etc.)


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.