Taoist Internal Martial Arts
The Internal Martial Arts are a branch of the Taoist arts and in order to truly grasp their philosophy, we must understand the origin of the Taoist arts (See Natural Qigong) and the two approaches of Chinese Martial Arts.
The two approaches to Chinese Martial Arts are follow the Qi (Internal/Neijia 內家) and follow the leader (External/Waijia 外家).
The styles that use the “Follow the leader” methodology show you how to stand, move and breathe, and follow a regimented group practice and do not work with the flow of Qi emanating from the universe.
The methodology of “follow the Qi” was such a closely guarded secret that only less than 10% of practitioners are aware of its existence.
Internal Martial Arts belong to the “follow the Qi” methodology. Here the practitioner learns the skill to tap into the energy emanating from the universe and eventually learning to harness this energy. The Qi will then take them on a journey of discovery and awaken all the energy expressions.
The Internal Martial Arts have three stages of progression
In the first stage the practitioner learns the skill to tap into, surrender and become a vessel for the sea of energy emanating in the universe. The Teacher will transmit the awakening (觉醒) by opening the energy gates of the body and connecting them to the Qi. It is like a flame being passed down that has been nurtured for generations, this will trigger the precious art of Zi Fa Gong (自發動功), spontaneous energy flow. The practitioner will find that the energy starts to move their body, swaying gently at first, then leading to more vigorous flowing movements as the body’s natural healing wisdom awakens and the energetic pathways are cleared and upgraded. They will receive tailor-made movements directly by the energy emanating from the universe. Each time the movements are different for each individual, the same movement never occurring twice.
Once a vigorous free flow of energy (the original "cloud hands" before it was associated with conscious controlled movements has been achieved) the practitioner can move onto the second stage, harnessing the energy.
At this stage they will stabilise (sink chi to Dan Tian) the vigorous energy flow and build internal power with Zhan Zhuang, stance training. You can easily tell if a practitioner is training a genuine high level Internal Taoist Martial Art. If they enter vigorous energy flow as soon as they step out of the stance then they are practicing a genuine high level internal art, if they step out of the stance and simply walk away then it was an external art practice. When a practitioner has stabilised vigorous energy flow in stance training, upon leaving the stance they have no choice but to enter vigorous energy flow as the energetic system processes the newly gathered Qi.
Then the practitioner can unite their energy flow with their body and the intelligence of the energy flow will be able to perform or move their body through classical forms (wisdom passed down from the past masters). This “wisdom” or forms/sets are the expression of energy flow discovered in the spontaneous energy flow practice by the past masters. It is the energy flow that performs the classical forms, not the instructions from the conscious mind. The practitioner will now go through the stages to learn sets, free sparring and weapons.
Having learned dozens of Kung Fu sets in my teens, the impatient teenager in me once asked my teacher “When can we train forms and free sparring?” My Teacher replied “Forms have to be earned” and that was my Teachers final word on the matter. I didn’t understand what my Teacher meant until much later. In an internal martial art it is the energy flow that performs the moves not the instructions from your conscious mind.
The final and highest level of the Internal Martial Arts is the stage of Wu Wei. At this stage the practitioner will have reached the level to align and flow effortlessly with the energetic harmonics of the universe.
Taoist Martial Arts Program
In Chinese history there is a saying “build the warriors body in 3 to six months and be ready for battle in 9 to 12 months”. There is an external method of iron palm and iron body that involves striking a bag that contains beans, steel shot or stones(depending on level), beating the body with conditioning equipment and other body conditioning drills.
This type of training was meant to take regular members of society and prepare them for war within 9 to 12 months. The individual was shown certain exercises and left to train and they would be ready for battle pretty soon with bone shattering strikes.
This method was only used when war was about to break out and regular members of society were to be prepared for battle in a short period of time. Once the threat was over the individuals would either stop their practice or move onto the internal method.
The external method was only meant for war, the downside of this method is that it was only trained by individuals under the age of 45 as it wasn’t healthy and led to Arthritis and many other chronic health conditions. Unfortunately today the external method is wide spread and trained for leisure even among internal martial artists.
Internal methods such as Yang Cheng Fu’s Internal Iron Palm and body, Taoist Golden Bell, Whipping Palm, Vibrating Palm, Heavy Hands, Burning Palm and Steel Wrapped in Cotton Palm and Body are so rare today that even practitioners of genuine lineages may not be aware of their existence.
The training of the internal methods differs vastly and only during occasional tests (6 months-3 years) are coconuts and bricks broken against the body.
Today Yang style Taijiquan is seen as a slow gentle health exercise but did you know Master Yang Cheng Fu’s nickname was “red hand Yang”? That is because each interaction with the Master left the practitioner with a blooded face, and that was just the students.
In traditional Internal Martial Arts the students trains the Internal Iron skills for the first 6-9 months leading to full contact sparring on the 12 month mark.
That is how this Taoist Internal Martial Arts program is designed.
Prerequisite: Minimum one year experience in Natural Qigong
Due to the commitment of a full time Qi Clinic and the time required for in depth intensive training and mastery in these arts, the Taoist Internal Martial Arts training is currently closed to the public. However limited spaces open occasionally and each students request will be assessed on a case by case basis.