Taoist arts and philosophy are extremely pragmatic and incredibly understated with instructive texts often being terse and cloaked in many layers of metaphorical language. While obvious meanings may be gleaned from a casual read by just about anyone, laying just below the surface is a treasure trove of principles detailing technicalities and natural law that can only be truly revealed by the initiated. Feasibly and perhaps paradoxically Taoists have always regarded that the best place to hide something of value is out in the open.
However, the bulk of the Taoist tradition is oral with teachings and experiential knowledge wrapped up in short proverbs that guide the dedicated student cleanly and clearly through the trappings of the ego, and into the unchartered waters of the mind. The secrets within can only be discovered by those who dedicate themselves to The Way or The Path of personal and spiritual development. As the student walks along their path and trains, the many veils peel away and the guiding principles uncover ever-deeper truths. And the same few words that exploit these meanings, propel the persistent student along their journey. One such maxim containing the potential of the entire development within the Tao internal arts is nei wai hsiang he or “inside and outside become one”.
Typically, the first cycle through the Five Element nei gong takes around 10 years, allowing two years of dedicated training for each of the Five Element qi gong sets to embody their distinct characteristics. This process is either completed by starting with Energy Gates Qi Gong and working through the other elemental qi gong sets to Gods Qi Gong in two-year periods; or more commonly by spending three, six, nine or 12 months on each set—returning to Energy Gates and cycling through to Gods multiple times.
Tai Chi + Bagua Master Bruce Franztis with Senior Instructor Paul Cavel
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.