Internal and External – Energy and You

All martial arts around the Galaxy can be classed as internal or external. An internal art focuses entirely on energy generated within the body that is spiritual in nature, while an external art focuses on perfecting the body to improve the spiritual condition – and this is the explanation at its most basic. Echani is classed as an external art, though it has some internal elements; Echani is more personal as opposed to being spiritual, with the pursuit of the art being paramount through the rigorous and demanding training to improve the mental and spiritual condition. Nonetheless, it has certain spiritual aspects relating to the personal nature of this art – everyone treats Echani as a personal journey and a method of self-expression, and this makes it a very important aspect of the experience.

In terms of its limited internal aspect, Echani focuses on the creation and usage of internal energy through proper body mechanics. Energy transference is a concept found both in the spiritual sciences found in the esoteric libraries of reclusive monks as well as physics and anatomy, so its importance does not need to be explained. This energy is generated in the body and then used in the techniques employed by the practitioner. Some Echani schools are more internal than external, though this is for the very reclusive and extremely dedicated, more like monks than any particular kind of warrior. These schools take the energy comparison to greater depths and use it for feats of the physical condition beyond those even the external schools are used to, but the depth and complexity of these arts is not for a basic student of Echani.

There are two parts to understanding this energy: how it is created and expended, and how it travels around the body. Most important to understand is that this energy is not like the Force; this is simply a mechanic to explain and demonstrate proper body mechanics. It is, in essence, a result of focus, explained best as the body being a vessel for the transference of energy – kinetic and spiritual in equal parts. The spiritual science is based primarily on the actual science, and is an ancient tradition that has not quite been abandoned – and is far easier to explain than the entire body mechanics involved.

First is the creation and expenditure of internal energy. Energy is created very simply by taking in breath, likened to drawing in the energy of the world around the practitioner. Air gives life, so drawing in air is perpetuating the cycle of life itself, which creates the energy of life. This fuels the body for continued use. Expending this energy is done every time one breathes out, which is done at the same time as a technique connects with an opponent; proper body mechanics, such as hip rotation, employ the body.

The way the energy travels about the body is equally important. Drawing in breath is both spiritually symbolic and physiologically necessary. On a spiritual level, the air drawn in becomes energy when it enters the body and travels through every part of the body from a point near the solar plexus then around in a large circuit, touching vital points and nerve clusters that visit the rest of the body following paths linking these points together. On a physiological level, air re-enriches the blood to give it nutrients, which is pumped around the body to fuel the muscles and organs, which is re-enriched once the blood travels back to the heart and absorbs more oxygen, continuing the cycle. This energy is expended when the body is in motion, when that fuel is used up - for the sake of the Echani explanation; the energy transfers much like kinetic energy, from the practitioner’s body to the target. Striking vital points is considered to be an interruption of the flow of energy in an opponent, which is why it is held in such high regard. Disrupting an opponent’s flow of energy to attack them is considered to be one of the most critical parts of Echani self-defense practices.

As such, the science lends credence to the viability of the concept of internal energy. Certainly it is steeped in a little of the metaphysical, but for the most part it is very grounded in real science – in short, internal energy is the product of having a healthy body. Internal energy can be improved by stretching, exercise and training the techniques of Echani, which sharpens both body and mind. This is similar to improving the cardiovascular system and improving heart rate, as well as simply training the muscles in the body to be stronger. Those who are skeptical of the concept of internal energy are always pointed to the science and are informed that it is a method of teaching, much akin to teaching moral lessons through stories, as well as being a method of envisioning the correct techniques needed to maximize efficiency of movement.