Nei Kung by Dan Docherty
In ancient times, Internal Strength (Nei Kung) was the first thing which a student of Tai Chi Chuan would be taught. It provided a strong foundation on which to build the rest of the art. However, as teachers began depend on Tai Chi Chuan for a living and had to teach more students, Internal Strength was only taught to students of good character. It takes time to assess students so nowadays students will normally be taught the hand form and some pushing hands first.
Internal Strength is the most important part of the art of Tai Chi Chuan, as well as being the most mysterious and least understood. When faced with more than one opponent, even if our defence is good, we must expect to take some punishment. If our body is weak we may sustain severe injuries, while our own blows are too week to have any effect. This means that before we can be good fighters we need to develop a strong physique.
The Internal Strength regulates breathing and improves blood circulation. Practice loosens and relaxes the joints, making our movements more fluid, which in turn leads to quicker reactions and greater speed in attack and defence. Our sense of balance will also improve with practice.
There is a series of twelve Yin exercises and a complementary series of twelve Yang exercises. The Yin exercises are designed to develop health and physique. It is for this reason that the Yin exercises are taught first. The Yang exercises are designed to increase our power and physical strength.
Nei Kung exercises
Embracing the ones
Holding a golden plate
Jade rabbit watching the moon
Red capped crane stretches its feet
Civet cat catches rats
Flick the whip left and right
White ape pushes out its paws
Swallow pierces the clouds
Leading a goat smoothly
Giant python turning its body
Elephant turns its head and swings its trunk
Golden dragon coiled around a pillar
White horse pounding its hooves
Planting a fence on the left&right
Wu gang chopping laurels
Rhinoceros facing the moon
Reclining tiger stretches its waist
Monarch of the mountain coming out of its cave
Old man rowing the boat
Hungry eagle looking for food
Macaque monkey swinging through the trees
Old man burning cinnabar