So to me this is the seed from which the debate of "internal" being superior to athleticism stems. A fear of evolving and growing. The fact is, if one maintains his art, as age gets on athleticism declines, chi grows.
At the end of the day, we are what we are based on the chi the universe has given us. Maintain respect, morals and work hard, this is the crux of martial arts at its peak. It's fertilizer for being human
your point of view is exactly why the debate became fierce. it's not about fear of growing old and getting weak, physically. budo folks are quite aware of their mortality. as i mentioned above, one is a physical training paradigm/method and the other, about attitude. a number of folks can't seem to separate the two. one can have good physical internal power to be unstoppable, but a wretched human being. one can be physically weak and feeble, but an incredible model person for a human. an example, a chen taichi master and Mother Teresa.
as a martial artist; Chen taichi master is better than Mother Teresa
as a role model of a great human being: Mother Teresa is better than Chen taichi master
here when we talked about internal power vs athleticism, we are talking about physical training paradigm, not about attitude.