Authentic Practice of Nei Gong
What is and is not internal practice, or more popularly known as internal Kungfu? This is of great interest to some, whether a person is just learning that there are deeper and more profound arts well beyond the concept of punching and kicking, throwing, or grappling; and that these practices yield many abilities that could be classified as super-normal, the subject is broad and complex and for the most part filled with special nomenclature (specialized language) that tends to leave some confused due to the obscure nature of the literature. This is not always the case, but often so.
Part of the charm of such writings and teachings is that it is obtuse and obscure thus making the understanding more difficult and in a way, protecting the knowledge from being exploited by the non-virtuous. It is a scientific practice much like the technical aspects of Yoga but spilling into the practice of civil martial arts. It is like the difference between the “Gold Bell” accomplishment and the “Iron Cow”. One is considered internal gong and the other is considered external gong. The results seem similar but they are vastly different once examined closely. From a practical standpoint, the internal gong will generally have a far more positive impact on one’s health although not without some risk when considering some of the more extreme practice, but to the contrary, the external must be very carefully practiced because of the high risk of self injury or self mutilation that has often accompanied those who pursue the external practice.
Profound and virtuous boxing practice requires moral virtue and patience, it should never be taught to an evil person. So in this way the tradition of testing and observing a student over time to verify their worthiness is required. The student must have a spirit of patience and humility. With these cautions in mind and with a sincere spirit, we will examine a passage from one of the highly treasured manuals of authentic practice of nei gong.
This is the key to internal Gongfu, the product of the outward forms. Once Zhengqi (the true chi) is sufficient in the interior, its external expression will manifest. Although it is hidden inside and unmoving, numinous brilliance is expressed outwardly through the face, so that people can not look at it directly. This is the mystery of “tranquility.” The qi stirs from the form while the form follows the qi. The mind is the master of the spirit while the spirit is the master of the qi. Therefore, when the Zhengqi takes residence, the form will no longer be a burden and one will be like a dragon soaring in the clouds, a bird flying in the emptiness of the sky, coming suddenly and going silently. This is the mystery of the skill.
This is from a passage called tranquility and movement.
We can see that this can be applied to Taijiquan, but the manual is actually a very popular manual in the Shanxi school of Xingyiquan practice. It’s principles are universal and have the capacity to inform everything we do. For the individual that seeks to have his or her wushu ascend to the highest levels, there is no difference between practice and non-practice, there is no space between discipline and non-discipline; awareness and non-awareness. Selfless awareness with clarity will necessarily abound equally both internally and externally to reach the summit such that all things occur naturally and without effort, then it will be known.
The keys points to master this practice is in understanding the gui tui, the two vessels, the bubbling spring, and the mysterious gate. Also the secrets of the melting of the drops, the root, the ancient cavity, the pillow and the mud ball; these are basic to the rest. The teacher is generally necessary to pierce the secrets but the power of the individuals determination and dedication to method must not be discounted. The knowledge is passed on from master to student often with the aid of a secret manual with the principles being explained and demonstrated by the master in the traditional manner combining both the oral and the written tradition.