Diversity & Characteristics
Over the years, wushu has developed into a multitude of schools as a result of factors such as geography and local cultures. However, most can be classified as external or internal styles. While different based on their different philosophy and training focus, both schools aim to “achieve unity by training the outer form and inner spirit” – which refers to the power and toughness of the muscles and various body parts, and proper breathing control and inner channeling respectively.
External schools focus on training the durability and explosiveness of the body (external) before progressing to breathing control and finally inner channeling of power. Unity is developed from the outside to the inside. External taolu are quick and powerful with complex combinations, e.g. Shaolin style, Hung style.
Internal schools are developed from external schools. Internal schools emphasize the controlling of breathing (internal) to harness inner power before engaging in training of the body. Unity is developed from the inside to the outside, whereby the mind directs inner power to the body, e.g. Wudang style, Xingyi style, Bagua style.