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(8 pages total)

Page 2 - Finding Qi in Internal Martial Arts

Daoist yogi practicing Nei Tan

Drawing from the 1700s of Daoist yogi practicing Nei Tan internal exercises

The merging of the poles, because of their nature, is difficult to achieve...like in identically polarized magnets which resist unity. Speaking metaphysically, when merging of physical and energetic poles does occur, the result can be said to be a minor representation of the power of the Dao. Often opposing poles act like opposing forces that are unified in the briefest moment of space and time as their power merges is initiated and then released.

Symbolically the merging can be compared to the creation of steam, the by-product of the attempt to merge water and fire. This idea has been used as an explanation for internal energy far back into Chinese roots. It is evidenced by the etymology of the Chinese character for qi (chi) being a pictogram of a wisp of steam floating off the essence of freshly cooked grains of rice.


Dominance of a pole

It seems to be the nature of poles to attempt to become dominant. Likewise, there is a ­tendency for practitioners to fall toward either the energy based or physical mechanics pole in their thinking and practice. Thus, either the pole of mechanics, or the pole of sensitivity and soft methods often becomes dominant. The problem is that dominance of one pole prevents the requisite merging of forces and sadly, the true magic is easily lost. When the poles are balanced and fully utilized there is power; and high level skill can be demonstrated. Short of real combat, this may be one of the only ways to test the ­validity of the internal as self-defense art.

Below I address the issue of the poles and share some insights that one might use to uncover the keys to the puzzle of internal power for oneself. But first I will digress for just a moment and discuss a way of revealing physical evidence of the presence of internal art skill through demonstration.


Demonstrate your art!

Talk, especially that which includes claims about power and abilities, without demonstration, is less effective than it was even a few years ago. I find the public, unless the speaker backs up claims with some type of demonstration, less impressed and more impatient with theories of internal power abilities. Todays climate is one of ultimate fighting contests and schools of martial arts that emphasize aggressive approaches. This has created an environment in which it is more important than ever for those claiming to teach the internal arts as effective self-defense be willing to illustrate the unique skills developed by their arts.

Chinese character for internal energy

The Chinese character for internal energy is composed of two elements

To an increasingly pragmatic public, demonstration of core principles that make the internal martial arts both internal and martial is essential. However, to do this requires defining and demonstrating a set of key principles, principles that can be demonstrated in a way that allows prospective students to experience the magic for themselves. Do you believe that soft and seemingly gentle arts can be effective in real and seriouseven life and deathencounters? Do you also believe that such an art can be demonstrated with a minimum amount of force or aggression? Many of my colleagues affirm these statements. We feel strongly that we, as instructors of the internal arts as serious self-defense, follow the examples of well-known past masters who were willing to demonstrate their skill, and we must, like them, be willing to demonstrate principles in a way that is safe, non-violent and non-aggressive to anyone. In this vein, I believe that we, just as in the case of the famous master Wang Xiangzhai and others in the early 1900s, should be willing to enter into comparative discussion and demonstration of our art.


Responsibility to the consumer

Demonstrating the effectiveness of ones ­internal art to the potential student serves three valuable functions. First, it presents a model. It shows how the principles and mechanics of such an art are effective and illustrates the basic concepts that make it so. Second, it allows the prospective student to see what skill might be attainable after a course of study. Finally, it gives the prospect the opportunity to judge the value of the investment first hand before committing to the program.

Our minimal responsibility as instructors, from a provider of services-consumer point of view, is to illustrate how soft principles truly do merge with physical mechanics to create an ­effective, rare and true internal art, one that is distinctly different from the external. A demonstration like this, presented to the open-minded prospect, gives more than a glimpse into the potential of the internal arts; it occasionally plants a seed that buds as life-long enthusiasm.5


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