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Internal qualities

The terms 'internal' and 'external' apply to all facets of life. Internal is an attitude. It is a principle.


This list of examples can aid you in getting a sense of what internal means:

External   Internal
Yang   Yin
Light   Dark
White   Black
Bright   Shadow
Overt   Covert
Outward   Inward
Outside   Inside
Confucian, Buddhist    Taoist
Muddy   Clear
Questions   Possibilities
Answers   Questions
Solutions   Side effects
Culture   Individual
Quick   Slow
Exotic   Simple
Confront   Avoid
Fight   Peace
Conflict   Harmony
Blame   Resolve
React   Respond
Amateurism   Mastery
Obvious   Hidden
Hard   Soft
Belief   Experience
Oblivious   Observant
Known   Unknown/unknowable
Understanding   Mystery
Candid   Secretive
Direct   Indirect
Revealed   Concealed
Soldier   Spy, assassin, thief
Emphasising a single point of view   Seeing that there are many sides
Conceit/vanity   Humility
Taking yourself too seriously   Humour
Over-analysing   Acknowledging the depth of our own ignorance
Judgement   Criteria?
Gratification   Self-awareness
Entertainment   Tranquillity
Technology   Nature
Samurai (to serve)   Ronin (masterless)
Fixed   Free
Prestige/status   Anonymity
Visible   Unseen
Easy   Difficult
Display   Disguise
Effort   Ease
Strain   Comfort
Taking sides   Yin/yang co-existing, apparent contradiction of opposites
Stretch   Release
Quantity   Quality
Cost   Value
Presence   Absence
Basic   Advanced
Novelty   Constancy
Artificial   Natural
Constant   Changeable
Compulsory   Voluntary
Divided   United
Equal   Different
Extreme   Moderate
Acquire   Let go
Foreground   Background
Violent   Gentle
Normal   Strange
Special   Ordinary
Part   Whole
Public   Private
Plan   Improvise
Resist   Adapt
Compete   Cooperate
Separate   Interdependent
Wealthy   Modest
Look   See
Hear   Listen
Certainty   Doubt
Rough   Delicate
Blatant   Subtle
Ignorance   Insight
Thoughtless   Wise
Control   Chaos (no discernable pattern)
Speculation   Proof
Opinion   Fact
Certainty   Illusion
Follow   Explore
Many   Few
Explicit   Implicit
Blundering   Stealthy
Blunt   Elegant
Surety   Ambiguity
Limitation   Choice
Crowd/group   Intimate
Built   Grown
Open   Closed
Clumsy   Graceful
Vulgar   Refined
Full   Empty
Probably   Maybe
Definite   Conditional
Dulled   Awake
Shown   Discovered
Simplistic   Nuanced
Ignorance   Awareness
Common   Esoteric
Tangible   Ungraspable
Habitual   Changeable
Familiar   New
Bored   Interested
Stimulated   Curious
Superficial   Depth
Appearance   Essence
Political   Personal
Modern   Ancient/old
General   Specific


Fake   Authentic
Unbalanced   Balanced
Attached   Detached
Confusion   Clarity
Religion   Spiritual
Noise   Silence
Agitated   Still
Found   Lost


Upset   Calm
Active   Passive
Ego/self   Authentic self
Conscious   Unconscious
Thinking   Feeling
Reckless   Cautious
Body   Mind
Fear   Understanding
Haphazard   Focussed
Loud   Quiet
Image   Genuine/sincere
Rude   Polite
Anticipate   Wait
By chance   Deliberate
Helpless   Responsible
Copy   Way
Influenced by society   Natural order
Urban   Rustic
Speaks   Listens
Shared   Private
Group   Individual
Shout   Whisper
Large   Small
Spectator   Doer

Waits to be told the answer

  Figures things out

Looks outside for answers

  Figures things out
Complicate   Simplify
Talk   Quiet
Something   Nothing
Win   Survive
Someone   No one
Overdo it   Just enough
Moves the opponent   Moves self
Knowledge of others   Self knowledge
Gossip   Self knowledge
The news   Self knowledge
Moral code   Principle e.g. yin/yang, change
Hard, brittle, bracing   Soft, fluid, loose, pliable
Combat is the main concern   Health and combat equally important
Straightforward   Significantly more detailed and sophisticated
Favour military-style warm-up exercise   Strength is built using unconventional means
Hard on the body   Gentler with the body
Uses existing body habits   Body must be trained to move in a manner that is unfamiliar
Mechanical   Organic, natural
Jerky   Smooth
Typically focuses on striking or grappling, seldom both   Striking and grappling trained together
Force versus force   4 ounces of pressure, stickiness, sensitivity
Favours the younger, stronger student   Age is less of an obstacle
Fighting/competition   Incapacitation is the aim
Aggression/emotion   Composure
Forcing   Allowing, leading, misdirecting
Speed   Spontaneity and timing
Isolated limb use   Whole-body movement
Using the 'core'   Whole-body movement
Extended   Close-quarters
Linear   Circular
Contract   Release
Planning   Listening, sensitivity, adaptation
Struggling   Flowing
Blocking   Blending
Holding   Releasing
Resist   Yield
Technique   Application
Numb   Sensitive
Being in your head thinking about what to do next   Being in the body and sensation-oriented
Denying your vulnerability   Feeling your vulnerability
Contracted, locked musculature   Loose, fluid and relaxed musculature

Works the joints

  Works tendons, ligaments, fascia and muscles

The list could continue indefinitely...


Purity emerges from impurity and light is born from darkness.

(Huanchu Daoren)

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Page created 21 May 1996
Last updated 04 May 2023