Very insightful Pete. Finally a clear answer to "what is serious work"
This is great info!
Perhaps the relative emphases on bodily conditioning is the difference between the "hard" internal cultivation style and the "soft" internal cultivation style that Mike Sigman was talking about.
Is it something like:
Hard internal cultivation (bigger emphasis on body conditioning, internal muscles/fascia in spine, etc): Xingyi, Bagua, Aunkai
Soft internal cultivation (bigger emphasis on coordination, sensitivity, mental intent): Taiji, Ki-soc
I'm totally talking out of my ass here so apologies in advance and please tell us more!
Like Pete said. I don't think hard vs soft is what it's all about, they overlap a great deal. You can train very hard in ways that some people would call 'external' whilst training internal or soft skills. All our yudansha practice is like this, i.e. really physically hard work with a resisting partner (constructive resistance that is), but the point of this training isn't to build bigger muscles or increase strength, it's to train you to use internal power or ki.