Home > Concepts & Principles > Thoughts on the differences between internal and external Arts

Thoughts on the differences between internal and external Arts

I often argue with my friends on if there is a difference or not. As a general rule my friends that claim there is or not have primarily studied one or the other and dabbled in the opposite.

One of the challenges to getting a clear answer is the fact that there are pure internal, pure external, but more commonly arts that are a combination aka/half internal half external.

While there is much in common between the two there are traits I consider different. For example both talk about being extremely relaxed as they move.

However an external stylist will tell you that they do extreme muscular contraction as they hit then relax (before and after). They exert power as they hit a pose/stance. An internal stylist will only talk about stretching instead of contracting.

One of the big issues I misunderstood when I tired to make the transition was that internal arts are always relaxed. This was a misunderstanding of what happens because I let energy leak out with misalignment’s. Maintaining alignments builds up a pressure empowering your alignments.

What I would suggest to those trying to transition is that external arts use alignments and posture with muscular contraction to generate force.

Internal practitioners use posture, alignments, that include stretching, relaxation and by keeping alignments to create a hydrodynamic pressure internally to generate force. Of course this is a far more in-depth topic, but I thought a good place to start.

Let me know your thoughts?


Mike Murphy


Categories: Concepts & Principles
  1. Bill O'Brien
    April 4, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    Hi Mike, I think we met several times in the Chicago area while you were affiliated with Villari Kempo. My friend was Chris Weaver, he was privately teaching me at the time, fast racking me to black belt. It was a long time ago and I’ve since lost touch with Chris. Very neat to cross paths again and see how you’ve evolved and nice work on this site. Cheers!

    • mwmurphy59
      April 4, 2018 at 3:53 pm

      Hi Bill, it is great to hear from you. I still talk with Chris from time to time. I hope all is going well for you. Thanks!

      • konchok
        April 4, 2018 at 6:17 pm

        I took a hiatus on training and after 15 years getting back into the “fight”. We have a very similar path. I’m working telecommunications and also studied bagua. Gao style here in Colorado under a few teachers, loved it. I got to your site after seeing an old video of Inosanto you posted on YouTube, and I had the VHS of that. Maybe I got it from you or you from me. LOL Saw it was posted by Mike Murphy…small world. Would you mind passing my email on to Chris, would love to catch up with him, yangzab@gmail.com. Wish you all the best and hope our paths cross again.

      • mwmurphy59
        April 4, 2018 at 6:42 pm

        I gave Chris your info and he said he will be reaching out to you. We all lost track of you shortly after you moved out there. If I remember correctly everyone that attended that seminar was able to get a copy of the VHS. When I found it I converted it so it wouldn’t be lost. It would be great to cross paths again! Best wishes.

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