Nèigōng: Martial Qìgōng for Internal Power
The traditional Chinese art of Nèi-gōng is the key to developing more qì (energy) and maximizing your circulation. Continual practice of Nèigōng is a process of internal alchemy resulting in a refinement and transmutation of the "Three Treasures" or Sān Bǎo (三寶). The Three Treasures are Essence / Jīng (精), Energy / Qì (氣) and Spirit / Shén (神). The "Spirit" in traditional Chinese martial arts and TCM relates to your morale, or your presence in the moment. Healthy Shén results in bright, shining eyes, full of vitality. Some say the Three Treasures represent three different energy states in the body, ranging from Jīng (essence, more material fluid/hormones), to Qì (more rarefied energy), to Shén (the immaterial spirit of vitality).
The muscles, tendons, and bones of the physical body are strengthened and conditioned which improves your physical longevity, but the real power of martial qìgōng is derived from the development and circulation of abundant qì and a calm, focused mind. Over time, you will learn to develop a stronger internal feeling, developing the mind/body connection, which is traditionally known as developing the "kungfu of internal vision." No matter what style of martial arts you are interested in, these internal principles ultimately become involved as you advance in training.
By coordinating your movement and breathing, using traditional Daoist and Buddhist techniques, you may experience incredible benefits for your health and martial arts practice, including:
- Faster recovery and a stronger immune system.
- Deep relaxation and improved meditation.
- Increased stamina and long-lasting energy.
- Ability to hit with more force.
- Improved rooting and balance.
- Refined mind-body awareness and coordination.
- Enhanced ability to store and release qì.
We asked Master Yang, Jwing-Ming some common questions about this topic.
1. What is nèigōng?
Nèi means "internal" and gōng means "gōngfū." Gōngfū (Kung Fu) is any accomplishment or task that takes time and energy to complete. All Chinese martial arts styles include both wàigōng (i.e. external gōngfū) and nèigōng. Wàigōng consists of training that is visible externally, such as forms, techniques, speed, and power. Nèigōng focuses on building up qì in the lower dāntián, the body's energy center, and then using the mind to manipulate, lead, and use qì for efficient, effective physical manifestations. Wàigōng can be thought of as a machine's performance while nèigōng can be thought of as this machine's energy supply. Nèigōng and wàigōng must mutually support each other in order for the machine to function at its highest efficiency and output.
2. What is the purpose of nèigōng?
The main purpose of nèigōng is to improve the functions and skills of the physical body to its highest efficiency. Once you have stored an abundant level of qì and are able to use your mind to control and lead it efficiently throughout your body, your root, balance, speed, and power will naturally improve. In addition, due to having a more abundant flow of qì circulating in the body, often nèigōng is used to condition the physical body for special fighting capabilities, such as Iron Shirt, Iron Sand Palm, and Light Gōngfū.
3. What is the difference between nèigōng and qìgōng?
Nèigōng can be considered a martial qìgōng. Qìgōng includes four categories:
1. Medical Qìgōng for health
2. Scholar Qìgōng for developing a peaceful and calm mind
3. Religious Qìgōng for enlightenment
4. Martial Qìgōng for fighting capability
From this, you can see that nèigōng is actually just a small portion of Chinese qìgōng practice. Since all of the fundamental theory for qìgōng is the same regardless of the category, often martial qìgōng is also used for maintaining health.
4. Can the average person benefit from practicing nèigōng?
Naturally. Nèigōng not only helps you build up your qì (energy) to an abundant level, it also helps to manifest qì externally in a beneficial way for the body. For example, manifesting qì well can significantly boost your immune system and consequently help you achieve higher levels of strength and health. In addition, many soft nèigōng practices have commonly been used for healing applications, such as in Tàijí Qìgōng.
5. How much time does nèigōng training take?
If consistent, a person just needs a half hour to one hour per day to see progress in about 6 months.
6. Very little information is available on nèigōng in English. Why is that?
This is because traditional Chinese masters used to always keep nèigōng training as a top secret. Particularly this had importance in times of war. If your opponents knew how to train nèigōng, then they were able to match or exceed your own fighting capability.
7. Do you teach nèigōng to your students at the Retreat Center?
Naturally. The whole purpose of the YMAA Retreat Center is to preserve martial arts, in as complete a way as possible, to the same high level of quality it had in ancient times. Therefore, all disciples must learn and practice nèigōng, amongst other things. In a Chinese proverb, it is said, "Training fist (i.e. sequences or forms) without training gōng (i.e. nèigōng), when you are old you will have only emptiness (練拳不練功，到老一場空– liàn quán bù liàn gōng, dào lǎo yì chǎng kōng)."
To preserve Chinese martial arts, we must keep our minds open. We do not live in ancient times; martial arts is not used for self-defense in the same manner it was before. If this knowledge is not continually revealed, taught, and successfully passed down to the next generations, this knowledge will be lost forever. This is the very reason that I have been revealing all of the martial arts knowledge and secrets I have known, experienced, or researched to the public since 1984, and this nèigōng DVD is no exception.