Neigong is a term that described a wide variety of practices. The first part of the word, Nei (內), means internal, while the second part of the word, gong (功), means practice or skill. Neigong is a subset of Qigong, exercises which combine breathing (調息), movement or posture (調身), and visualization (調心) to self regulate the internal landscape of vital substances (such as Qi 氣) and the internal organs.
While modern Chen, Yang or other systems of Taijiquan did not originally contain separate Neigong practices, it is clear that the origins of Chen Style Taiji (the original system of Taiji) were influenced by Neigong practices that were popular around the time of its development. In the 20th century Feng Zhiqiang, perhaps one of the most talented Chen Style masters of his time, was fortunate to study under two of China’s greatest modern martial arts and internal cultivation teachers - Chen Fa Ke and Hu Yaozhen. From Chen he learned Chen Style Taiji, and from Hu he learned an extensive curriculum of Neigong and Qigong exercises. Later, Feng synthesized the two together to form Hunyuan Taiji, a system that combines Chen Taiji with Neigong exercises. For the experienced practitioner of Hunyuan Taiji, each and every Taiji form eventually becomes a Neigong exercise.
While Neigong exercises are often associated with improving martial arts ability, the truth is that their main benefit lies in how they improve the health of the practitioner. Even modern scientific research has documented tremendous health benefits from Qigong (and thus Neigong) practice. The Neigong/Qigong we teach is in the direct lineage from the Song Dynasty Daoist Chen Xiyi, through Hu Yaozhen and Feng Zhiqiang. Chen Xiyi was a very well know Daoist cultivator. When the Song Emperor called on him to serve in the court, he declined and escaped to live in the remote Hua Mountains where he could cultivate the Dao. Below is a photo of the Hua Mountains covered in clouds, and a photo of Chen’s grave at the base of the mountains. Below that are some videos of common exercises we practice.