The large variety in wushu styles can be divided in ‘external’ and ‘internal’ styles.
In the internal styles (e.g. tai chi chuan) you learn to relax. Therefore exercises are practised in a slow pace. You should not put any physical strength in your movements. Internal styles enhance the strengthening of your inner organs. Practising these styles therefore has a healing effect on specific health complaints.
The external styles start with the development of muscle strength, reflexes and acrobatics. Power exercises enhance your condition. Physical strength is important. External styles are also called Shaolin styles. There are
– Southern styles, with emphasis on hand techniques,
– Northern styles, with fast kicking techniques.
Wushu also uses many traditional weapons (e.g. sword, stick or cudgel) which were used in the past. The weapon techniques are still used because of the positive effects on your health, and the traditional and symbolic value of many of these movements.