Before discussing self-defence skills, it is important to have a working definition of internal martial force. On a mundane level, martial force is an expression of the laws of physics: strength exerted on an object or person, the ability to quickly and efficiently put mass into motion and focus its impact to your best advantage, and use leverage effectively. This also implies that the practitioner will be able to use whole body strength, as opposed to localised strength or crude tricks of leverage.

On a more esoteric level, internal force is also an application of Qi and of intention to maximise the effectiveness of your methods while minimising your physical efforts. Erle Montaigue has said, only partly tongue-in-cheek, that the internal arts are environmentally

"green" because the idea is not to expend your own energy but to recycle it as you counter an opponent's tactics.

Doing this means that you use rebound energy to power your continuing strikes rather than reloading after every strike as in a hard style counter—like an automatic firearm rather than a revolver. Being "green" also has the implication that you are putting in and withdrawing your own energy every time you make contact—and not expending your energy in a draining fashion. However, I am getting ahead of myself in discussing such issues.

As internal arts practitioners, and humans in general, are fond of categorising and find an almost magical significance in certain numbers, you may find it useful to divide the various basic expressions of martial force into five categories: No Force, Brute Force, Skilful Force, Upright and Integrated Force, Internal Force.

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