Internal, otherwise known as nei gong forms part of the qigong system. Qigong 氣功 refers to simply the working of qi, nei gong 內功 is the sub-set of qigong that operates within the (human) system. It can be used for martial or medical purposes: acupressure points can be used medically heart massage (same point as used in CPR) or to cause severe trauma to and stop the heart. 

Dim mak 點脈/點穴 is a combat system that expressly targets these points. Another system qin’na 擒拿 uses these points and distensions of nerves or joints. Both are difficult to use and only some of the main techniques will be shown as they are easier to set-up and combine with Wingchun techniques.

In class you’ll hear the word “relax” a lot. This isn’t the western concept of relaxation - lack of muscular control… a better word for this would be diffusion. The Chinese character for “relax” is 鬆 - parts of the character connotate ‘pine tree’ and ‘hair’. Imagine a tightly bound christmas tree with the binding just cut open: the trunk and branches stay rigid but the fronds flow and release… exactly such a state as one should be in when engaged in internal work. 

In later posts the following will be discussed further but you will be shown three main ways in which to develop your qi. The first will be zham zhong 站樁/站桩. This is also known as standing meditation. This is performed solo and enables one to practice generating protective qi without external stressors. As the name suggests it can also be used as a meditative exercise to train the mind.

Once you have begun how to generate protective qi you will then work in pairs to use the protective qi to help neutralize incoming force and stop yourself being overwhelmed.

The third step is then to include this into Wingchun sticky hands and the forms.

What then is qi? As mentioned before it involves the dantian and mingman. One way to understand it is that here are air pockets between the flesh and bones and between each joint. Tension forces this to expel air and become rigid as iron. This works to an extent - being hit with an iron bar is not pleasant. Diffusion works by relaxing each joint of the body and allowing these cavities to fill with air… bubble wrapping the iron bar. This is the protection qi at work. This is the first step to absorbing a fast/heavy blow and provides room to move to step b).

Step b) involves generating the inertia. Each joint has its own centre of gravity. By stacking these up over each other, you create a spring that helps drain energy into the ground. The key to this is the dantian which you can train to regulate the energy flow. As mentioned previously, other forms - external and southern internal - have a point of resistance, usually in the lower back. Overload the system and the system collapses. By manipulating the dantian, it can act as a capacitor for and diffuser of this energy, safely grounding it.

 Newton’s second law then dictates this energy returns and this is where the mingman replicates the dantian’s function but in reverse - sending the energy up, not down, back to the initial point of origin. 

These skills take time to develop which is why you learn external skills beside internal ones. With practise and patience you will lean to deepen the diffusion, relaxing more and more joints to create a greater effect.

Written by Andrew Correia (Senior Student)