The Chinese term sung is often translated as “relaxed”, but a more accurate translation is “unbound”–a state in which the body loses all unnecessary bindings, all resistances, all tension.
The very fabric of Tao arts is weaved from nei gong threads that intertwine to create the internal structures and external forms of qi gong, tai chi and bagua. The exact same nei gong threads can be weaved in very different ways to generate radically different arts and training results.
However, the nei gong system itself is split into two categories, which yields eight yang and eight yin methods. That is to say each nei gong component naturally develops either the yang or yin qi of the body and, as a whole, every thread contributes to an intimate and delicately balanced lattice.
Although both tai chi and bagua develop softness and strength, each individual student is typically drawn to one side. Most people are either more yin or more yang in their personalities and approach to life. In the West, we naturally gravitate towards our strengths, which means we tend to develop that which is dominant in us and leave behind anything that is lacking or weak. This can create further imbalance—the opposite of what tai chi and bagua practice aims to achieve. Training tai chi helps you develop softness inside bagua, while training bagua helps create more flexibility in tai chi. In turn, greater flexibility from bagua further allows you to access a softer operation of tai chi, while a softer execution of tai chi allows you to generate more strength in bagua. This positive feedback loop continues on many levels throughout your practice over years and decades as you refine and hone your skills on ever-deeper layers.
My colleague Dan Kleiman recently launched a new podcast series, Qigong Radio, to cover a wide variety of qi gong and internal martial arts related topics.
Dan invited me to join him to discuss the fundamental levels of early qi energy (nei gong) training, and how it specifically provides the foundation for and links with long-term development in body and mind.
How to Activate + Develop
Your Soft Tissues, Fluids + Qi Energy
Although internal energy arts practice and the process of embodying ever-deeper layers of nei gong is a lifetime pursuit for the most dedicated practitioners, at each increment of advancement, the associated health benefits increase significantly. Many students will sacrifice content for form, but it is the internals that supercharge qi gong, tai chi and bagua forms—that which makes all the power-generating and health benefits possible.