The Internal martial arts place their main emphasis on training the internal factors of a person as a means of preparing the body to be effective in combat. The three internal elements trained are Jing (essence), Qi (vital energy - akin to life force) and Shen (spirit). The body needs to be strengthened and healthy before it can engage in combat. The internal methods train the body for the improved generation of Jing (essence) through keeping the body at the optimum stress level for its healthy functioning which means also the removal or dealing with destructive stress. This returns the body to its natural relaxed state which encourages the proper smooth circulation. This forms the basis for a regulated and healthy endocrine system which leads to the improved generation of Jing.
This in turn leads to the improved output of Qi which is a result of the improved metabolism through the abundance of Jing. Qi is derived from the nutrients we eat and the air that we breath. Qi itself flows with the blood and both can be controlled through mental focus. Proper mental focus leads the qi round the body improving vitality through improved blood flow and sufficient supply of nutrients, gaseous exchange and vital energy. The breath is very important in qi generation and deep breathing efficiently utilising the capacity of the lungs is important but never to the point where it becomes unnatural. This leads to an improved tonus in the musculature and ultimately leads to a healthy body.
The mind which leads the qi also benefits from this optimum supply of its nutritional and respirational requirements and allows it to function at its best. Coupled with a destressed body and controlled emotions, it is able to develop a relaxed concentration with deep calm. This is used in mental training which supplements physical training resulting in better results in shorter time. It also improves confidence, increased awareness and deliberateness in dealing with situations as well as greater ability to concentrate and be able to maintain it. The Shen (spirit) which is a manifestation of consciousness is thus trained and is an indispensable part of this cyclic system. The West has only just begun to realise the benefits of mental training as a supplement to physical training.
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