Among the many hundreds or thousands of styles of Chinese martial arts, the “Internal” styles are those which place emphasis on the development of the deepest inner parts of the body and using these parts to power all movement. The best known of these arts is Taijiquan (“Tai Chi”), the other two are Xingyiquan and Baguazhang.
All of these arts have as their foundation the development of what can be called the “connected body” or “unified body”: most of the basic practices develop awareness of movement, relaxation, strength and stability through all of the joints of the body, starting with the spine, pelvis and ribcage and through the hips and shoulders, knees and elbows, wrists and ankles, feet and hands, all the way to the tips of the fingers and toes.
The Internal martial arts have often been associated with and practiced alongside Daoist health and meditative traditions. The emphasis on the progressive cultivation of self-awareness and systematic training of every part of the body, mind and sensory systems is extremely pertinent to Daoist practice (aimed at becoming more conscious of the Dao or the “Great Way” of nature that is flowing through all things), and the careful training of the spine and alignment of the central axis of the body in the gravitational field is particularly beneficial for any type of meditation.
I teach the Xingyiquan and Baguazhang of the Yizong system of my teacher Luo Dexiu from Taiwan, plus foundational exercises from other arts such as Yiquan, Taijiquan, Xinyi and Xinyiliuhequan, and Tongbeiquan, depending on the student. I also teach my own version of the “Hun Yuan” Qigong of Feng Zhiqiang, according to solid principles of neuroscience, anatomy and physiology.
Practice for health only is quite different to practicing real martial arts, and for this reason at present I am recommending students interested in health and qigong to come to natural movement training instead since they are simpler to learn and specific results like the “connected body” are easier to achieve more quickly, making them a perfect foundation for the more difficult and complex arts like Baguazhang. Also, anyone wanting to quickly gain usable fighting skills is much better off taking up some form of combat sport like wrestling, Brasilian jujitsu, boxing or Muay Thai.
PLEASE NOTE: Specific classes in Internal Martial Arts are not running currently, but we work continually on the core principles and practices in our regular Natural Movement classes in Canberra. Anyone with a strong interest in learning these rare Chinese arts for their own sake is welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0431 166 737
For more information on Baguazhang, Xingyiquan and the Yizong system see Luo Dexiu’s website www.yizong.org