Nei Gong: Part 1

Starting this month, QiBelly is offering Zen Meditation classes at the Toronto Healing Arts Center – Wednesday’s from 5:30-6:30pm. Whether you are a novice or an experienced practitioner, this seated group meditation is open to all. Please contact QiBelly by phone or email to book a seat.

For this month, I have chosen to share a write-up on Nei Gong written by my teacher, Master Zhang Yu Fei. Jesse Lown, also a 20th Generation Lineage Holder under Master Zhang, is responsible for translating the document into English and adding bits he found appropriate. Both Zhang and Lown are pictured on the right.

For lack of a better term, Nei Gong can be translated as Internal Practice. Fundamental to Internal Martial Arts, Nei Gong deserves the attention of any practitioner serious about his/her practice.

Nei Gong is an essential training method that is often neglected amongst everyday practitioners. External body mechanics, completeness of forms, internal strengthening, fluidity and intent all serve to provide us with a holistic approach to training. By ignoring just one of these aspects, we fail to achieve the essence of the practice.
*Nei Gong Training: Stage One*

Above and Below Follow Each Other – Shang Xia Xiang Sui

Generally speaking, ‘Above and Below’ represent ‘Yin and Yang’ in terms of the ‘Mechanics’ and ‘Qualities’ of movement. This stage is about recognition and harmonization of opposites. It enforces the physical development of the body and body movement.

The first divisions of the body are the spine and the waist. The waist separates the upper and lower sections, the spine separates the left and right sections. These are the 2 major axles of the body. The upper section represents the hands, the lower section represents the feet. The right section represents the right hand and foot, the left side represents the left hand and foot. The body is central and unites everything. The differentiation of mechanics and qualities of movement are:

Mechanics of Movement

Rise and fall, advance and retreat, left and right, bend and extend, open and close, clockwise and counterclockwise rotation.

Qualities of Movement

Hard and soft, fast and slow, empty and solid, round and square, light and heavy, movement and stillness.

When the mechanics and qualities harmonize, the result manifests as both ‘Completeness of Movement’ and ‘Embodiment of Movement’:

Completeness of Movement

When moving, the whole body moves. When still, the whole body is still.
When retreating, the whole body retreats. When entering, the whole body enters.
When the upper moves, the lower follows. When the lower moves, the upper leads.
When one part moves, all parts move.

Embodiment of Movement

Within stillness is movement, within movement is stillness.
Within fast is slow, within slow is fast.
Within soft is hard, within hard is soft.
Within empty is solid, within solid is empty.
Within open is closed, within closed is open.
Within bend is straight, within straight is bent.

*Attention at this first stage of Nei Gong should be on:*

Zhan Zhuang:

At this stage of Zhan Zhuang, the focus is to develop the postural requirements that will eventually accumulate Qi. Once the posture is correct, and it has been held for a long time, the body will ‘settle into itself’ and the postural requirements will become natural. Key pointers are the structural formation of Dan Tian, the expanding Peng of the shoulders, the raising of BaiHui, the pushing back of Ming Men, the slight holding up of Hui Yin, and the sinking of the Kuo.

Chan Si Gong:

These exercises consist of isolated coiling movements taken from the standard forms. Practicing Chan Si Gong can help develop the specific type of body movement that is fundamental to Chen Style in a more clear and complete way. Chan Si exists in all the standard forms, but it is not always clearly or fully expressed. One reason for this is that the postures in standard form training reflect a series of linked attack and defense motions, creating sudden changes of direction and not allowing the forms to move beyond a certain safety zone of martial sensibility. It is much easier to ‘feel’ the full expression of coiling without needing to pay attention to these additional concerns.

Standard Form Training:

There are many different forms in Hun Yuan Tai Chi Quan, but they are all based on the original First and Second Road forms (Yi Lu, Er Lu) of the New Frame (Xin Jia) of Chen Style Tai Chi Quan. The essence of these forms also incorporates Xin Yi Liu He Quan Nei Gong. This Nei Gong mostly consists of power generation methods, and quality of body
movements. When training these standard forms at this level, attention should be on the ‘principle of opposites’. Turn in and turn out, shift left and shift right, raise and settle, open and close. These movements must become instinctual and balanced. Attention should be on
‘when one part moves, all parts move’ (Completeness) and ‘within one action is the possibility of the next action’ (Embodiment).

Xiang Sui means to ‘Follow Each Other’. Xiang He means to ‘Harmonize Together’. Within ‘Follow Each Other’ is ‘Harmonize Together’, and within ‘Harmonize Together’ is ‘Follow Each Other’. This is another example of ‘Embodiment of Movement’ that should be within all movements. If there is ‘Following’ without ‘Harmonizing’, the movements will be scattered
and in disorder. If there is ‘Harmonizing’ without ‘Following’, the movements will be stiff and sluggish. In a very basic sense, ‘Following Each Other’ develops fluidity, while ‘Harmonizing Together’ develops connectedness.

~*Master Zhang Yu Fei – Translated by Jesse Lown~