There are three main doctrines that help progress in the internal arts. We reach mastery when we train all three categories. The doctrines are structured and should prevent confusion in the Wudang martial arts or esoteric approaches which lead away from the main path.
Posture – 步法 Bù Fǎ
The position and physical orientation of the body is the key to efficient relaxation and muscle tension as well as to the control of gravity. The basic Gong Fu doctrines consist of the Ji Ben Gong – basic exercises as well as the basic positions. Emphasizing a strong posture is important as students begin Wudang martial arts.
Usually one should start with Ji Ben Quan practice to improve in the basic postures.
Once the posture is stable, the student can gain power in the movements by controlling internal motions rooted over the Dantian. It is required that one acquires good enough flexibility for the basic postures in Ji Ben Quan. The internal movements in Wudang require flexible joints, elastic tendons, and relaxation.
Internal movements are rooted in the posture and lead the intention in one direction.
Rhythm Control – 節奏 Jié Zòu
The coordination between yin and yang, strength and relaxation as well as the breathing determine the rhythm control. The rhythm control can be done in both a consistent and irregular pattern. Everything is depending on controlling the factors which lead to efficiency in the internal practice. The learning of rhythm control must be corrected and taught by a master and is in an online class incomprehensible.
Grasping the essence of internal martial arts is something that may happen along the way of endless physical and mental concentration practice. Today I want to bring the principles of internal martial arts closer to practitioners. There are not many martial arts schools (even in China) which are knowledgeable in this topic.
Everyone may practice internal martial arts, but one must understand that it is also a way of living. In internal martial arts, we cultivate Qi through different exercises in Qigong, Gongfu, and Taiji. As every person comes with innate Qi (Yuán Qì (元氣) the way of internal martial arts seeks to preserve this and cultivate Qi further along with practice. Degrading this Qi with a wasteful way of living goes against the teachings of internal martial arts, too much stress, alcohol consumption, smoking, depression, sickness and much more can negatively affect our Qi. Ignoring the way of life and stressing your mind and body with internal martial arts is not considered a good way to balance out your issues in life, to successfully practice internal martial arts one must change his way of life.
The will influence the universe, all within and around it, learning from the universe is what Daoists do, this includes the way of nature and the way of Dao. As Christians say “Thy will be done” we can only accept the reality that is real to us. The internal practice does solve all problems through the right focus. If you can accept yourself, there is a possibility to achieve your will. While the border between belief and understanding might appear slim at first, a similar method is often used in our modern western world by psychologists and other professionals. It is the responsibility of the master to guide his students to understand this principle for practical use.
As all these theories sound nice, the reality looks different from what people can imagine without the experience in internal arts. Nobody who is professional will ever attempt to teach you internal principles without the fundamental knowledge. Learning who you are, how to stand straight, how to walk, how to be aware and letting intuition guide your consciousness are some of many things one have to learn before attempting to grasp the essence. Every individual is a self-developing system, a microcosmos, a part of the whole – a part of the Dao.
Power needs a direction, without direction it becomes empty – since power without purpose is insignificant. Emptiness becomes stillness since stillness without being empty is non-existent. Someone who can consciously change his existence according to Yin and Yang (Power and Empty) is a Taiji practitioner, one who can subconsciously adapt from Yin to Yang and vice versa is considered a master. Within this adaptation, we find the balance, the directed movement and defined concentration between the hard, powerful, and the soft and empty.
Back to the Roots
It is critical not to skip necessary steps in the natural order, as this natural order is what defines our physical and mental order in which we can build up Yin and Yang. Shifting the weight from one leg to another before attempting to step in a direction, being connected with the earth and rooting each movement in a spiral motion to direct power in a narrow focus, is what defines Taiji with its natural order. When our eyes are clear so is our nerve system, when we breath longer we can remain calm yet powerful like in a sea of energy – that is our source to remain calm. The whole interaction between Yin and Yang is never forced but processes naturally by pure intention.
As our interaction becomes smaller our horizon widens and with a slower change we experience and learn. Interact with Yin and Yang wholeheartedly by focusing on a much smaller scale the interaction becomes not more insignificant but the opposite, the paradox of our cosmos. Like an onion we reach the center with each layer and familiarize ourselves with that what we call harmony, letting ourselves guide by small announces and processing all of them subconsciously. The minimalist is a maximalist in his world, experiencing the enjoyment which is unknown to others.
It ‘s hard for people to let go. Practicing eagerly and letting everything go, entrusting everything to the natural order, is not an easy thing to do. Grasping the truth with all your might and letting it go without a second thought are the fundamentals of nature. Unable to accept change leads in new conditions to personal interference. The fear of losing control or not being in control is an indication of going against the free will.
The internal martial arts are substantial to our very existence, for our self-development and cultivation. Never skipping a day of practice as it is food and drink to nourish us. Finding enjoyment in existing and a way to exist with each movement. Yin and Yang are eternal, as we change ourselves we define its value.
The beginning is the starting point to come back to, to realize your changes. Revisiting and re-questioning the fundamentals to achieve greater knowledge is the way of a master to learn from his students, as all development is connected to the origin. Flat is the path of the mountaineer as he walks the mountains in the same manner as ordinary people walk in the streets – we change as our reference system changes in value.