When someone talks about “internal” anything, they are talking about qi, mystic power being used in mystic ways to give abilities and skills above those who don’t do “internal” training. But the slick-talking snakeoil salesmen “gurus” always derail the conversation into “well qi is all of life, you get qi from food, so when you lift weights, you’re using qi” and other nonsense, when everyone except the most gullible of gullibles knows that’s NOT what is being discussed.

Then you get the people who “want to believe” so they change the definition of internal so they don’t think they’ve wasted years of training on nothing. They say things like “well, to me, ‘internal’ training is about having proper body alignment and breath coordination and blah blah blah.” All of those things are external and have no qi or mystic internal energy component.

I am not talking about possibly intangible health benefits. If doing standing post qigong makes you feel better, then by all means, keep it up! You can’t quantify if you feel better or not to anyone else.

It’s just this “I stop punches with my qi” or “I root myself with qi and cannot be pushed over” nonsense that no one can prove because it’s all stage tricks and proper application of physics. You’re not actually sending your qi through your feet into the earth and creating a root with it like magical glue to hold you in place when someone pushes you.

Just like a fat guy flexing his abs and rounding his back and exhaling when he is struck with a sledgehammer is not protecting himself with qi. He’s protecting himself with physics and proper body mechanics, and the same thing can be done by a non “internal” guy who has had the right training.

Much of the mystique and appeal of the TMA (traditional martial arts), especially TCMA (traditional Chinese martial arts), comes from the internal component. Look at all the demos (stage tricks) and stuff that make noobs and the uninitiated think “wow, that guy has mystic power!” TCMA banks on this kind of stuff! Look how many “develop your qi power” courses there are in MA magazines. People want to learn that stuff, so it’s in the interest of the art to perpetuate the myth.

Physical conditioning is real. If you hit your forearms with iron body bags, they will become less sensitive to pain, and the bone will become more dense over time (Wolff’s law). But it’s not qi. Thai boxers, with their strictly external training, have just as good of shin conditioning as TCMA guys who do iron shin training with the iron body bags and all the qigong components that accompany it. But the fraudsters downplay the role of the external conditioning and instead tell the audience that “he is sending his qi into his shins to protect them” to add to the mystical component, when what is really “protecting” his shins is the years of external conditioning that was slowly increased over time. Of course, the audience wants mystic power, so people give them mystic power.

You guys probably fall for those “magnetic energy bracelets,” too, because the guy demoing them showed you that you’re harder to pull off balance when you’re wearing one. Holy crap it’s aligning your qi! Better buy one for each wrist and have unstoppable chi powerz!!!