People practice Tai Chi for superb health and for deep and profound self development. It is also used by martial artists wishing to journey deeper into the study of internal energy – ‘chi’.
Contrary to what is commonly known or understood, an Internal martial artist does not have an easy time. Their muscles are continually trained to deal with more and more power so that the body can issue and absorb greater and greater levels of force – both External and Internal. A few years ago I was talking with some of my Tai Chi colleagues who have previous martial arts experience and we were remarking on how none of us have trained as hard as we currently train under Master Ding. Yet we were all considered commited students of our previous external styles. Intense training for more accomplishment is something which is definitely the same in Internal and External martial arts.
However one of the differences which is often talked about is that internal martial arts leads to a body that can still produce massive amounts of force when you are old and your external force has diminished. The external force paradigm relies on youthful muscle. As you move into your 40’s and 50’s and 60’s it is harder to compete with youngsters. Yet I have seen Master Ding, who is a generation above me in age, shock martial artists in their prime with his unfathomable softness, speed and power. Such is the wonder of internal power.