Thursday, March 25, 2010

Oriental Esoterica

Well, I'm off chasing another elusive Dragon.

After talking with my Xingyi instructor Jake Burroughs we decided on my next level of training. As some readers may know, I transitioned from hard-style Karate into Tai Chi Chuan and Bagua starting around 1996.
-Still got the Karate "chops" (pun intended), it's difficult to get rid of ingrained training. But the internal martial arts offer a way deeper aspect of introspection and body knowledge.
Back in the old days (1980's) when I started in the martial arts, instructors would tell us that martial arts were 20% physical and 80% mental. Then they worked us to a 110% physical routine. Maybe we got one minute of seated meditation in a two-hour class.
In Tai Chi Chuan we were introduced to spiral meditation, microcosmic circulation, Chi projection, and other mental imagery. There are various forms of "Chi Gong" that we discovered.
Now, my current focus is on learning the third style of Chinese internal arts, Xingyi.
Xing Yi Quan, literally "Form-Mind Boxing" has it's own methods of internal body work, called "Nei Gong". Here is what Wikipedia states about Nei Gong:

"The martial art school of neigong emphasises training the coordination of the individual's body with the breath, known as the harmonisation of the inner and outer energy(內外合一), creating a basis for a particular school's method of utilising power and technique.
Neigong exercises that are part of the neijia tradition involve cultivating physical stillness and or conscious (deliberate) movement, designed to produce relaxation or releasing of muscular tension combined with special breathing techniques known as the "tortoise" or "reverse" breathing methods to name but a few. 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)".

The method of Xingyi and Neigong I am learning is from Master Li Guichang.

The fighting forms are practiced as a somewhat "softer" mode than in other Xingyi systems, which makes it dovetail perfectly with my Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan. The NeiGong of Xingyi is similar to some ChiGong but is often characterized as "Internal Body Method" as opposed to "Breath Method" of ChiGong.
So, even though I have practiced other Chi methods, this is a new experiment for me. It requires daily practice, and as such, I have to put something else on the shelf for the time being. That means my Bagua practice will have to take a backseat while I continue with Taiji, Xingyi and the Xingyi NeiGong.

So off to chase that elusive Dragon, my instructor says it will take 100 days to internalize this new practice.

For more thoughts on this subject, see my recent post on "Shen Fa", or "Body Method".


Zacky Chan said...

Awesome! Sitting, standing, moving; as long as your relaxing I think someone could call it a chi gung of sorts. But to practice specific movements which have been passed down through legitimate masters for a cultivation of an inner power many consider real, sounds pretty cool, nei gung. I've been incorporating more quiet seiza in my life now, and trying to get to a consistent spot where true effects (or non effects) can be felt after 100 days. Good luck going inside.

Dojo Rat said...

Well, it's been a week and I can tell you this: it takes about 20 or more minutes of intense concentration, and I am doing it slowly but not slow enough.
If I warm up with the Tai Chi Chuan form, concentrate on the Nei Gong set, and then finish with the Xingyi elements and linking forms, it's a full hour.
That is followed by an equally intense sense of calm mellowness and vivid colors and awareness of the environment around me. The best practice is by the ocean or in the woods.
I may not have time every day to do everything in that sequence, and may have to break it up occasionally. Hopefully getting Bagua in once a week later at the Dojo if possible, between partner training.