Energetic Training, Internal Martial Arts and Qigong
Updated: Aug 5
I really hate having to give a brief introduction to some of the topics that I write about as much, if not more, than reading the brief intros that other writers give. So I'm not fucking doing it.
Western culture has bastardized yoga. Yoga instructors are a dime-a-dozen and I guarantee you that the vast majority of them don't know a fucking thing about energy flows in the body. This also covers the people who take a yoga class from one of these clueless individuals. If your instructor has no clue, then you won't either. And if you wanted to learn about the way energy flows in the body, you sure as shit wouldn't be going to these poseurs in the first place.
I did not choose yoga for my energetic training path. I have no problems with it except for the shallow "yoga culture" that Western society has created. There is one thing I'll point out though about doing energy work with yoga vs. qigong: Some yoga practitioners will focus on developing the upward flow of energy through the spine. This Kundalini energy will shoot upwards and get stuck in the brain causing a host of issues which are beyond the scope of this article. The problem is that these yoga practitioners never learned how to get the energy down and out. The Taoists learned that focusing only on the upwards flow of energy will NOT develop the downward flow as a natural result, BUT in qigong, you first learn how to focus on developing the downward flow (called sinking your qi) which will simultaneously develop the upward flow. Win-win. But to continue where I left off, I chose qigong for my energetic training. The uneducated person would look at the 80-year-old woman in the park slowly moving her arms and wonder what kind of stupid shit is this? I should know because I used to be one of those uneducated persons before I woke the fuck up and recognized the value of qigong and energy work. For the first half of my life, I focused on my physical body. I worked hard in the gym after high school and in college, I was built like a brick shithouse. The tables turned many years ago and I started focusing on my energetic bodies instead. If I had to do it all over again, I never would have set foot inside a gym. Let's move on.
There are two types of martial arts: external and internal. External martial arts are the ones that most everyone is familiar with: Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Karate, Wing Chun, Jiu-Jitsu, etc. They focus on external movements and memorization of forms. It takes years to properly advance and build external power (strength through muscles, toughness of skin, callouses, etc). And then once they reach a certain level of mastery, they're taught internal power which is essentially building and utilizing qi.
The internal martial artists basically said "fuck this external bullshit" because they realized that when you learn to build qi and move it, you can have the same effect in fighting that you do with an external martial art and you don't have to wait 15-20 years before they teach the techniques to you. Plus you won't be damaging your body over the years by focusing on getting your physical body in peak performance.
There are three internal martial arts (Bagua, Hsing-I and Tai Chi) and they are Chinese in origin. The closest internal martial art from Japan that I'm aware of would be Aikido, but I'm not well-versed enough to speak about it. I have had basic training in the three internal martial arts (through direct training and direct transmission from a lineage holder in all three disciplines) to understand energy flows, but at my age I don't care to progress any further into them. That's for the young kids. (As a retired police officer and firearms instructor for my last department, I'm very comfortable and happy to just carry my pistol everywhere I go).
Bagua and Hsing-I are yang in nature and Tai Chi is their yin counterpart. Generally in China, the Bagua and Hsing-I Masters live about a decade longer than the Tai Chi Masters. This is just due to the amount of yang qi that they develop. This might help you decide on what to study if you're so inclined. If you're like me now and want something less taxing on your body, go the qigong route as your energetic practice. It's far easier in my opinion.
This is the best way to differentiate between these three internal martials arts. Imagine you have a glass of water that's half full. The water represents stress. If you start training in Tai Chi, it will teach you how to dissipate that stressful energy (drain the water). As you start to get stressed and the water level rises, you will be able to "drain" that glass at a much faster rate. That's one way in which Tai Chi can benefit you.
Now let's say you decided to go the Bagua or Hsing-I route. Instead of being given the gift of draining that water at a faster rate, what these two internal martial arts do is basically make your glass bigger so you can handle more water.
So let's move onto qigong. Some types of qigong are better at building qi and others are better at circulating qi. Ideally you want a balance of both. In my personal practice, I do one type of qigong in the morning to build qi (specifically yang qi) and in the evenings, I do another type to circulate my qi. I'm not going to recommend any specific type of qigong to you because there are more than a thousand kinds out there. Some of them have way too many moves to memorize and what you get out of those isn't worth the effort. I'm busy and I value my free time, so I had to research and try different kinds of qigong over the years with the criteria that it was easy to learn, had as few movements as possible and gave the most return on qi-building or qi-circulation. I may consider offering to teach my routine online at a later date, but that might not happen until 2024.
Men generally have more yang qi than yin qi and vice versa for women. It's much easier for a man to feel yang qi and in women, it's much easier for them to feel yin qi. When I first started qigong training, it took me two fucking years before I could feel the energy flows throughout my body. TWO FUCKING YEARS. So don't give up so easily when you start. The time is going to pass by anyway so you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain. I'm at a point in my development now where if someone with shit-energy walks into the room, I feel ill and have to get the fuck away from them. I used to think it would be cool to be super sensitive to energy, but the reality ruined the fantasy. It really sucks.
On a side note, do you know the REAL reason why the Chinese would tightly bind the feet of the young girls? It had nothing to do with making them more industrious so that young girls would sit still and work at a boring, sedentary tasks for many hours each day. The real reason was about sex. It drove the yin energy back up into the genitals.
Anyway, I hope this at least points you in the right direction when you decide to choose an energetic practice. No one summed it up for me when I started so, you're welcome.