Cheating a little here as this was drawn from a post I made on the drunkenboxing.redjademartialarts.com forum. I was asked to say something about what is Neigong.
Lets see if I can just nutshell this idea. “Between Heaven and earth is Qi and its laws; between Yin and Yang is Qi and its laws.”
“Human beings are generated by the process of heaven and earth blending their qi. Therefore, we are made of qi and can never be without it. Just like fish are enveloped by water and incessantly move their fins to swim in it, human beings are enveloped by the universe and incessantly move their nostrils to breathe in it. Human beings, therefore, always have to rely on this all-encompassing and all-transforming qi. Therefore the ancient saying: “Eat, and the physical body will be satisfied. Move, and all transformative processes will be in harmony.”
From the Huai-nan-zi 120 bce.
What they are pointing out here is that Qi is the interplay of structive potentials (Yin) and con-figurative forces (Yang). In medicine when we discuss Qi it is always the Qi of some specific relationship of Yin Yang. It is never “energy” it is a specific relationship. So when we consider internal cultivation, Qigong and Neigong what is the specific relationship or relationships that we are seeking to cultivate?
It is important to note at this point that Yin Yang are not states, like states of matter (solid, liquid, gas or plasma), they are frames of reference that can be moved, twisted inverted, shrunk or expanded. This is why when we consider Qi we should also ask “Qi of what?” The widest frame of understanding your own Qi is your mind-body complex itself.
So broadly, Neigong is the cultivation of the relationship between your mind and your body. Just saying it that way points to the problem. Mind and body, as if they are two distinct things instead two ends of a spectrum. Were do they meet? This is a serious question, and in martial arts terms a deadly serious question. If you can begin to experience the integration of the where your mind interfaces with your tissue then are beginning to reach towards the issue that Neigong tries to address.
Any bullet headed goon can be strong and fast, I direct your attention to mixed martial sports and its athletes. Great athletes, but not much martial art. Within three years any person can be trained to maximize their raw physical, as opposed to integrated, potential. The cracks in that system can be seen as they age, and not age very much. Most of them become slower rather quickly as they progress. They get more experienced and this leads them to be able to apply their methods within their arena. However, very often it merely comes down to the lucky hit or cardiovascular fitness or the first one to get a trick in. This is in stark contrast to killing arts that rely on precise powerful striking and explosive joint dislocations that must occur within a heart beat or two from the first touch. This latter skill requires much more of the whole person to be trained and addressed.
What does it mean to understand your own emotional architecture? Just as we fix our physical structures we must give as much attention to our cognitive structures. Can you really be generous, with the resources of your soul more than your wallet? Can you be truly honest with yourself and your actions? Do you put effort into winning small arguments? Do you lie to gain small benefit? Do you listen or do you wait to talk? Do you train or do you go through the motions? What aspect of your quality as a human being can you improve?
Weakness of the spirit translates into physical and physiological imbalances. What is wrong with your martial arts is absolutely related to what is in your head. To fix your heart-spirit is to fix your body and vice-versa. However, fixing the mind fixes the tissue much more obviously than fixing the tissue balances the mind. This is because the mind can unbalance itself with a speed and power the tissue cannot. This is the true difference between internal and external training. If you are not addressing issues of your character then you are (at best) getting internal mechanics without true internal power.
This is why I say the main characteristic of Neigong is honesty. Radical, brutal and raw honesty. Do not be daunted by the task, though it is a hard and steep road, for the life of a true human being/真人/zheǹ reń is the result.