Ancient Wisdom in a Modern Era
Internal Chinese Kung Fu, Sun Lu Tang
History ~ Neigong ~ Kung Fu
He subsequently was invited by Yang Shao-hou, Yang Ch'eng-fu and Wu Chien-ch'üan to join them on the faculty of the Beijing Physical Education Research Institute where they taught T'ai Chi to the public after 1914. Sun taught there until 1928, a seminal period in the development of modern Yang, Wu and Sun style T'ai Chi Ch'uan.
Neigong (內功), also spelled Nei Kung, neigung, or nae gong, is any of a set of Chinese breathing, meditation and spiritual practice disciplines associated with Daoism and especially the Chinese martial arts. Neigong practice is normally associated with the so called "soft style", "internal" or nèijiā 內家 Chinese martial arts, as opposed to the category known as waigong 外功 or "external skill" which is historically associated with shaolinquan or the so called "hard style", "external" or wàijiā 外家 Chinese martial arts. Both
Nèijiā (內家) literally means "internal school" and is a term used in Chinese martial arts that categorize those styles that practice nèijìng (內勁) "internal strength". These particular styles of internal martial arts are practiced with a predominance of spiritual, mental or qi-related methods, as opposed to an "external" (外 wài) approach that focuses on physiological aspects. The distinction dates to the 17th century, but its modern application is due to publications by Sun Lutang, dating to the period of 1915 to 1928. Nèi jìng is developed by using "nèigōng" (內功), or "internal exercises," as opposed to "wài gōng" (外功), "external exercises."
The internal styles of martial arts are also known as Wǔdāngquán (武當拳), named for their association with the Taoist monasteries of Wudangshan range, Hubei Province in Chinese popular legend. These styles were enumerated by Sun Lutang as Tàijíquán, Xíngyìquán and Bāguàzhǎng, but most also include Bājíquán and the legendary Wudang Sword.
Some other Chinese arts, not in the Wudangquan group, such as Qi Gong, Liuhebafa, Bak Mei Pai, Bok Foo Pai and Yiquan are frequently classified (or classify themselves) as internal styles of martial arts.
History of Nei Jia Quan
Ancient Wisdom in a Modern Era
China; they did so to screen the best martial artists in order to begin building the Central Martial Arts Academy (Zhongyang Guoshuguan). The generals separated the participants of the tournament into Shaolin and Wudang. Wudang participants were recognized as having "internal" skills. These participants were generally practitioners of T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Xíngyìquán and Bāguàzhǎng. All other participants competed under the classification of Shaolin. One of the winners in the "internal" category was Bāguàzhǎng master Fu Chen Sung.
Sun Lutang identified the following as the criteria that distinguish an internal martial art:
1.An emphasis on the use of the mind to coordinate the leverage of the relaxed body as opposed to the use of strength.
2.The internal development, circulation, and expression of qì, the "vital energy" of classical Chinese philosophy.
3.The application of Taoist dǎoyǐn, qìgōng, and nèigōng (內功) principles
The term "nèijiā" and the distinction between internal and external martial arts first appears in Huang Zongxi's 1669 Epitaph for Wang Zhengnan. Stanley Henning proposes that the Epitaph's identification of the internal martial arts with the Taoism indigenous to China and of the external martial arts with the foreign Buddhism of Shaolin—and the Manchu Qing Dynasty to which Huang Zongxi was opposed—was an act of political defiance rather than one of technical classification.
In 1676 Huang Zongxi's son, Huang Baijia, who learned martial arts from Wang Zhengnan, compiled the earliest extant manual of internal martial arts, the Nèijiā quánfǎ.
Republic of China
Beginning in 1914, Sun Lutang together with Yang Shao-hou, Yang Ch'eng-fu and Wu Chien-ch'üan taught T'ai Chi to the public at the Beijing Physical Education Research Institute. Sun taught there until 1928, a seminal period in the development of modern Yang, Wu and Sun style T'ai Chi Ch'uan. Sun Lutang from 1915 also began publishing martial arts texts.
In 1928, Kuomintang generals Li Jing Lin, Zhang Zi Jiang, and Fung Zu Ziang organized a national martial arts tournament in
of external movement.
Sun Lutang's eponymous style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan fuses principles from all three arts he named as neijia. Some Chinese martial arts other than the ones Sun named also teach what are termed internal practices, despite being generally classified as external (e.g. Wing Chun). Some non-Chinese martial arts also claim to be internal, such as: Aikido, I Liq Chuan, Ip Sun, and Kito Ryu jujutsu, to name a few. Many martial artists, especially outside of China, disregard the distinction entirely. Some neijia schools refer to their arts as "soft style" martial arts.
Sun Lu-t'ang (simplified Chinese: 孙禄堂; traditional Chinese: 孫祿堂; pinyin: Sūn Lùtáng) (1860-1933) was a renowned master of Chinese Neijia (internal) martial arts and was the progenitor of the syncretic art of Sun style Tai Chi Chuan (孫家). He was also considered an accomplished Neo-Confucian and Taoist scholar (especially in the I Ching), and was a distinguished contributor to the theory of internal martial arts through his many published works.
Sun Lu Tang Biography
Sun Lu Tang was born in Hebei and was named Sun Fuquan (孫福全) by his parents. Years later, his Baguazhang teacher Cheng Tinghua (程延華) gave him the name Sun Lu Tang. (It was common in old China for people to have multiple names). He continued to use his original name in some areas, including the publishing of his books.
He was also well-versed in two other internal martial arts styles: Hsing-i Ch'uan (Xingyiquan) and Baguazhang (Pa Kua Chang) before he came to study T'ai Chi. His expertise in these two martial arts were so high that many regarded him as without equal. Sun learned Wu/Hao style T'ai Chi Ch'üan from Hao Wei-chen. Sun started studying with Hao relatively late in his life, but his accomplishments in the other two internal arts led him to develop his T'ai Chi abilities to a high standard more quickly than is
have many different schools, disciplines and practices and historically there has been mutual influence between the two and distinguishing precisely between them differs from school to school.
There is both martial and non-martial neigong. Well known examples of martial neigong are the various breathing and focus trainings taught in some traditional Taijiquan, Baguazhang and Xingyiquan schools. An example of non-martial neigong is the discipline known as Daoyin.
Internal styles focus on awareness of the spirit, mind, qi ("energy") and the use of relaxed (sōng 鬆) leverage rather than muscular tension. Pushing hands is a training method commonly used in neijia arts to develop sensitivity and softness.
Much time may nevertheless be spent on basic physical training, such as stance training (zhan zhuang), stretching and strengthening of muscles, as well as on empty hand and weapon forms which can be quite demanding.
Some forms in internal styles are performed slowly, although some include sudden outbursts of explosive movements (fa jin), such as those the Chen style of Taijiquan is famous for teaching earlier than some other styles (e.g. Yang and Wu). The reason for the generally slow pace is to improve coordination and balance by increasing the work load, and to require the student to pay minute attention to their whole body and its weight as they perform a technique. At an advanced level, and in actual fighting, internal styles are performed quickly, but the goal is to learn to involve the entire body in every motion, to stay relaxed, with deep, controlled breathing, and to coordinate the motions of the body and the breathing accurately according to the dictates of the forms while maintaining perfect balance.
Neigong and the internal martial arts
The martial art school of neigong emphasises training the coordination of the individual's body with the breath, known as the harmonization of the inner and outer energy (內外合一), creating a basis for a particular school's method of utilizing power and technique.
Neigong exercises that are part of the neijia tradition involve cultivating physical stillness and or consciousand deliberate movement, designed to produce relaxation or releasing of muscular tension combined with special breathing techniques such as the "tortoise" or "reverse" methods. The fundamental purpose of this process is to develop a high level of coordination, concentration and technical skill that is known in the martial arts world as neijin (內勁). The ultimate purpose of this practice is for the individual to become at one with heaven or the Dao (天人合一). As Zhuangzi stated, "Heaven, earth and I are born of one, and I am at one with all that exists (天地與我並生, 萬物與我唯一)".
Neigong and meditation
This type of practice is said to require concentration and internal reflection which results in a heightened self-awareness that increases over time with continued practice. Neigong practitioners report awareness of the mechanics of their blood circulation, peristalsis, muscular movement, skeletal alignment, balance, etc.
What is said to be occurring as the result of continual practice is a type of internal alchemy, that is a refinement and transmutation of the "Three Treasures" or San Bao (三寳), in Chinese. The Three Treasures are known as Jing (精), Qi (氣) and Shen (神) and can be loosely translated as Essence, Vitality and Spirit.
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According to Daoist doctrine the Three Treasures can be described as three types of energy available to humans. The Dao De Jing purported to be written by Lao zi states in chapter 42 that "The Dao (道) gives birth to the One, the One gives birth to the Two (Taiji (太極) or Yin and Yang (陰陽)) and the Two gives birth to the Three (which some interpret to mean Jing 精, Qi 氣 and Shen 神, or sometimes Heaven Tian 天, Earth Di 地 and Man Ren 人) and lastly the Three gives birth to the 10,000 Things (Wanwu 萬物); which is all that exists in heaven and on earth.
Characteristics of Neijia
The reason for the label "internal," according to most schools, is that there is a focus on the internal aspects earlier in the training, once these internal relationships are apprehended (the theory goes) they are then applied to the external applications of the styles in question.
External styles (外家, pinyin: wàijiā; literally "external family") are characterized by fast and explosive movements and a focus on physical strength and agility. External styles include both the traditional styles focusing on application and fighting, as well as the modern styles adapted for competition and exercise. Examples of external styles are Shaolinquan, with its direct explosive attacks and many Wushu forms that have spectacular aerial techniques. External styles begin with a training focus on muscular power, speed and application, and generally integrate their qigong aspects in advanced training, after their desired "hard" physical level has been reached.
Some say that there is no differentiation between the so-called internal and external systems of the Chinese martial arts,[ while other well known teachers have expressed differing opinions. For example, the Taijiquan teacher Wu Jianquan states, "Those who practice Shaolinquan leap about with strength and force; people not proficient at this kind of training soon lose their breath and are exhausted. Taijiquan is unlike this. Strive for quiescence of body, mind and intention".
Current practice of Nejia
Many internal martial art schools teach forms that are practised for health benefits only. Thus, Tai chi chuan in spite of its roots in martial arts has become similar in scope to Qigong, the purely meditative practice based on notions of circulation of qi. With purely a health emphasis, Tai chi classes have become popular in hospitals, clinics, community and senior centers in the last twenty years or so, as baby boomers age and the art's reputation as a low stress training for seniors became better known.
Sparking controversy amongst raditionalists who feel that a school not teaching martial aspects somewhere in their syllabus cannot be said to be actually teaching the art itself, that they have accredited themselves prematurely. Traditional teachers also believe that understanding the core theoretical principles of neijia and the ability to apply them are a necessary gateway to health benefits.
Neijia in fiction
Internal styles have been associated in legend and in much popular fiction with the Taoist monasteries of Wudangshan in central China and are a common theme in Chinese Wuxia novels and films, usually represented as originating in Wudang or similar mythologies. Often, genuine internal practices are highly exaggerated to the point of making them seem miraculous, as in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon or Tai Chi Master. Internal concepts have also been a source of comedy, such as in the films Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle.