Why NOT all hsing-i / xingyiquan is "internal"
Left: John Bracy in Hsing-I’s “Tiger Style” at General Yu Fei’s mound-tomb, Hanzhou, China. Right: Sun Lu -tang with sword
Sun Lu-Tang was a famous master in early 20th century China. Respected for his deep knowledge and authoring several books on the internal martial arts, he was formost influential in promoting the hsing-i as an “internal” martial art. In books published in 1919 and 1920, Sun was the first to describe in detail how Taoist alchemy / internal “energetic yoga” principles could be applied to the art. At that point some schools of hsing-i (mostly those practiced on the north China plain – where t’ai-chi and ba gua also developed) began to take on SOFT or “internal” characteristics.
What is the difference between "internal" and "external" hsing-i / xingyiquan?
Hsing-I is a very old martial art. Without Sun’s writing about the art in his 1919-1920 books, it is probable that the art would have become lost among the thousands of Chinese martial art styles. However, Sun’s inclusion of hsing-i as an internal martial art made it famous.
That said, (as an organized system), something that can be called “internal martial arts” didn’t appear until the late 1800s. [footnotes to be added]. (We would love to hear and publish here and give fair voice to other opinions. (please send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Our contention is that there are two systems of hsing-i, one “hard” (older) and the other “soft” (since the late 1800s or early 1900s)