The most important element in learning Tai Ji Kung Fu is to strengthen the body with the Nei Kung training. This ensures that the body is healthy and resilient . It builds stamina and enables the graceful action of both arms and legs, allowing more freedom of movement in areas such as the waist/hip area , improved stability of stance and good balance.
The exercises also develop proper breathing techniques that strengthen the lungs and make one less susceptible to respiratory illness. The improved deep breathing also improves the physical stamina and enables one to remain at peak strength under the most arduous combat conditions.
Without the proper fitness, strength , physical resilience and stamina supreme technical skill can rarely succeed when exposed to a physically superior determined aggressor.
Nei Gung Demonstration
Many confuse our Nei Gung training with Iron Shirt Techniques which have a similar external characteristic in being able to withstand powerful blows.
Our training however does not seek to this through muscular strength conditioning but through the opposite method of relaxed conditioning so that the muscles will absorb instead of just creating a solid barrier.
Internal injury may result from the compression of the internal organs being squashed by the a solid muscular wall in this type of demonstration. Normally powerful blow would cause the entire body to move backwards but since there is nowhere to go compression is the only thing that can happen.
Nei Gung is now taught after the Empty Hand Form has been completed. This is because it is necessary for practitioners to have a good understanding of body mechanics and sufficient self-awareness to understand and feel the postures they are putting themselves into and know that they are correct. They also need to have sufficient stamina, strength and flexibility to be able to do the exercises properly.
Insufficient preparation leads to poor execution and ultimately to physical damage that is compounded by the attitude to push things to their limits.
There are 24 Nei Gung Exercises, 12 Yin and 12 Yang. Once the Yin Set have been completed then the student will be able to perform the demonstration below without fear of injury (as long as the the jumper lands on the torso!).
Nei Gung Training also trains the legs and waist coordination to aid absorption and redirection of powerful attacks and enable the issuing of force (Fa jing).
Nei Gung Training increases the power and flexibility of the waist and legs to allow absorption and redirection of the most powerful force and then the coordinated issuing of fa jing.
Our Nei Gung Training does not involve the tensing of the stomach muscles and it works even when eating or drinking or even when you are not expecting the blow, I have first hand experience of this.
Our Nei Gung training is designed to complement our form and applications practise. Daily practise improves the coordination of body, the depth and control of the breathing and the power and resilience of the body.
As they should be performed daily it is essential that they are taught and practised correctly. It is very easy for small variations in the postures to creep in over a period of time that without correction would be harmful to posture and can result in damaged knees or back problems. It is for this reason the exercises are taught over a long period of time under the supervision of a qualified instructor who is able to correct any imperfections that are introduced by the student over the period of their training.
This is also why the exercises are not published in books or in video format because it is not possible to ascertain the correct and important details from visual inspection. Verbal instruction and observation by a qualified instructor is required.
As part of our tradition a Bai Shi initiation ceremony is performed before these exercises are taught but this is only done once the teacher is satisfied that the student is capable of practising the exercises independently which they should be able to do once the Empty Hand Form has been completed.
Neigung Kick Demo
Neigung training allows us to withstand blows that we are unable to avoid and thus be able to counter even after being struck.
After practising Nei King for some time you can start to properly learn Tai Ji Quan Tao Lu. The movements are all intended for combat purposes and in practising this set, one must move steadily in a slow and relaxed attitude in order to attain relaxation and reduce nervousness which in turn leads to surety, speed and stability.
Neigung Punch Demo
No special preparation is required to be able to withstand punches. In a fight you could be hit at any time and so must be ready to withstand blows at any time.
This refers specifically to the torso and the muscular areas of the arms and legs and does not mean the joints, neck/throat , testicles, groin or head which enables the practitioner to concentrate on protecting these weak points.
There is an old Kung Fu saying : 'Kung Fu can easily be annulled but speed can never be.' In order to be faster than the quickest attack, one must practice movements in a slow and relaxed pace. Speed comes from relaxation, tensing the muscles slows them down.
In the modern era these two phases are reversed with the Tao Lu being taught first and the Nei Kung at a much later stage. There are several reasons for this
i. The exercises are very taxing and not easy to get right. Visual interpretation and memory is required coupled with a proper awareness of ones own body. The majority of people that I have taught do not have this ability and have to learn it over a long period of time being constantly corrected so that their awareness of what they think they are doing actually matches the physical reality of what they are doing.
ii. Something easily given is not highly valued and there is a tendency to do the other less taxing but more visually impressive training instead of spending the time in this essential training.