[FoRK] 馬-fu

Dave Long dave.long at bluewin.ch
Fri Dec 31 09:22:58 PST 2010

The classification of chinese martial arts into "external" and  
"internal"[0] can also be found in the modern olympic equestrian  

Cross country and show jumping are external schools, in which good  
physical condition at the lower levels suffices but the upper levels  
make increasing technical demands; dressage, on the other hand, is an  
internal school, in which relaxation and balance suffices at the  
lower levels but the upper levels make increasing physical demands.

Of course, they both wind up in similar places: a top jumper must  
adjust precisely between the fences to arrive at the right spot for  
take-off in the right form and conversely a top dressage horse must  
be in good condition to meet the physical demands of extremely  
collected figures; perhaps this is why cavalries used to require that  
their officers practice all[1] of these arts[2].


[0] depending upon whether they commence with exercises oriented  
towards strength and speed and only later add in centering and  
calmness, or whether they proceed in the opposite direction.
[1] the common european name for a multi-day "complete contest" event  
in which all these arts are used is, in fact, the "military".
[2] despite the bellicose origin of equitation, none of the modern  
olympic disciplines counts as truly martial, in that they are all  
ridden with the reins in both hands[3], making it rather difficult to  
bear arms.
[3] Klimke and Ahlerich having made a notable exception, but only to  
celebrate their victory in Los Angeles.

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