People have asked me about martial arts I practice, so I decided to dedicate a section here to provide some info and because they are an important part of my life.
Myself going over various martial concepts
I am a practitioner of Daoqiquan, which has largely been a closed family system for a few hundred years; a collection of martial arts, philosophy, meditation and health skills.
Within this school of practice are modified versions of Xingyiquan, Taijiquan, Baguazhang, and also animal styles- Kung Fu as they are more commonly referred to by most Western folks. My focus is in Xingyiquan- a hard-hitting military combative system, and Taijiquan- the martial form of "Tai Chi" that most people are sadly not familiar with.
There are many versions of these traditional Chinese arts, with about three main styles of Xingyiquan and about 4 styles of Tai Chi found in many schools popular worldwide.
In Daoqiquan which I study, we have our own unique styles of these arts. Emphasized are practical combat skills as opposed to adhering strictly to traditional lineage, sports or fitness goals as found in other schools. It's a small, but elite family of students and teachers and a very modern and refined system distilled to efficient, powerful concepts.
Taiji & Xingyi
And that is the nature of internal-style martial arts. It's the combination of mind and body that produces amazing power, and the observer can only see the body at work. So it doesn't look like much from the outside, giving rise to the description of being like an "iron bar wrapped in cotton" which denotes the hidden power behind otherwise simple-looking movements. An internal art utilizes both the mind and entire body equally, in harmony. Which is why skills like meditation and Chi Gong are important.
Because of this demanding focus on mental conditioning, it is a much slower and more difficult journey to learn an internal system. Tai Chi, for example, generally takes many years to develop fighting skills equal to that of an average external TKD or boxing stylist (assuming they are trained well of course) who has only been training a short time.
However, the skill and power of the Tai Chi stylist continues to grow and grow, for they are not limited simply by physical techniques and fitness levels.
Any physical activity, martial or not, can greatly benefit from internal training. The mind is a very important factor in person's life obviously, yet it is often taken for granted and not developed. Plenty of folks train the strength of their muscles, or cardio, but rarely do they train their mind. You cannot truly be complete as a person, nor realize the full potential of athletic or martial arts skill, without the power of the mind.
The mind commands, the body responds, and the energy flows.