January 14, 2014 at 9:05 am #41820
I just got Chia’s Tendon Nei Kung book. Any advice from practitioners or those who have studied it in the past on learning it and starting/developing a practice? I don’t really practice Iron Shirt 1 regularly but often times stand in “embracing the tree” for a while and occcasionally some of the other poses. I don’t plan on doing the mung bean hitting.
I understand that tendon neigong is considered Iron Shirt 2, and bone marrow neigong is Iron Shirt 3. I also know that there is a definite overlap between qigong and neigong. So why are the tendon and bone marrow neigong and not qigong (chi kung)? Why is iron shirt not neigong (nei kung)?
Also, from what I have read it seems that the iron shirt, tendon and bone marrow practices may have come from the Shaolin temples and are actually Buddhist qigong pracices. There is speculation that the “tendon changing classic” and “bone marrow classic” were written by Bodhidharma himself, who is credited for transmitting Buddhism to China and also foudning the Shaolin martial arts…not sure how much is true though…January 14, 2014 at 2:39 pm #41821
>>>Any advice from practitioners or those
>>>who have studied it in the past on learning it
>>>and starting/developing a practice?
You can not learn IS2 from a book. If you try, I guarantee you that you will be doing it incorrectly. If you want to learn IS2, you really need to have visual instruction that is not static (i.e. not pictures). This is ideally with an instructor, but in lieu of that, at minimum I suggest acquiring the IS2 DVD of M. Chia’s from his Tao Garden website.
IS2 has very strange body mechanics to it. There is sort of an odd body-rhythm to it, and you can not get this from a picture. In fact, it is quite challenging to learn. Even if you see someone doing it correctly, it is difficult to replicate. It takes a long period of time of practice, often doing it incorrectly and continuing to study the correct movement, until your body figures it out. The analogy is almost like watching a juggler and then trying to do it yourself. You can not replicate what you see until you’ve put in a long period of devoted practice.
I have practiced this on-and-off myself for a number of years, and all I can say is that over time, improvements can be made especially if you can actually see how the correct body motion works via either M.Chia DVD or better yet, live instruction.
I can say that very short practices are much better than long marathon sessions. Ideally, something only 5-10 minutes even. Then try to do it regularly. Doing it for a longer period typically has diminishing returns or even negative returns. Moreover, doing it for a long period of time can create injury. It is easy to overdo it with the practice and injure yourself, creating tendonitis.
>>>I don’t plan on doing the mung bean hitting.
This is helpful to do both to remove heat from the tendons upon the doing the practice, as well as something to put next to your computer to use against your wrists periodically to ward-off carpal tunnel (completely separate from any formal IS2 practice). I recommend that you maybe be open to it. If you do not wish to actually buy a mung bean hitter, you can make one quite easily. Just buy dry mung beans (go to a local health food store, if you can’t find it in a grocery), and fill an old sock with them, and tie off the end. In fact, it is recommended that you change the mung beans periodically.
>>>I understand that tendon neigong is considered Iron Shirt 2,
>>>and bone marrow neigong is Iron Shirt 3. I also know
>>>that there is a definite overlap between qigong and neigong.
>>>So why are the tendon and bone marrow neigong
>>>and not qigong (chi kung)? Why is iron shirt
>>>not neigong (nei kung)?
In Healing Tao, there is overlap, so it is difficult to be rigorous.
The “nèi” in nèigōng means inner/internal
Gōng, of course, means skill.
Thus nèigōng literally translates as “internal skill”.
Thus, in the Healing Tao, nèigōng is often a colloquial way to refer to the alchemical processes of transformation.
IS2 is called Tendon Nèigōng, because the idea is that through doing the exercises over time, that you will transform the nature of your tendons.
Although IS2 is a unique tendon system, it is also related to a different tendon set called the Yì Jīn Jīng, which is the “tendon-changing classic” (literally “change tendon classic”).
So the idea is that you are growing and changing your tendons.
In a similar fashion, IS3, Bone Marrow Neigong, comes from the Xǐ Suǐ Jīng, which is the “marrow-washing classic” (literally “wash marrow classic”). So again, the idea is that you are transforming your marrow into something new (e.g. more vibrant, less fat-filled, healthier, etc.).
>>>There is speculation that the “tendon changing classic”
>>>and “bone marrow classic” were written by Bodhidharma himself,
>>>who is credited for transmitting Buddhism to China
>>>and also foudning the Shaolin martial arts…
>>>not sure how much is true though…
Yes, this is the story. As is true with many other topics, M. Chia borrowed from many different lineages to create the Healing Tao system. This is true in general as well. Both Buddhism and Taoism borrowed from each other the things that they found uniquely suited to their spiritual system.
StevenJanuary 15, 2014 at 9:02 am #41823
Thanks for the priceless advice Steven! I will give you an update once I start practicing and let you know how it goes. I will consider the Chia DVD as well. So far I’ve only learned Chia’s stuff from books, and Winn’s stuff from DVD’s and QF audio (plus ebooks).January 17, 2014 at 2:18 pm #41825
I found the link to the DVD. You can actually download the files for only $20.January 17, 2014 at 3:06 pm #41827
Good to know.
If you intend to try to practice IS2, I recommend getting the DVD, possibly through the download option if it appeals. You need to have a moving visual aid to help you understand the strange body mechanics.
SJanuary 21, 2014 at 1:15 pm #41829
After reading through the form once but not attempting it yet, I’m sort of thinking “what the…” I can see how it is pretty much impossible to learn from the book. I felt the same way about the IS1 breating technique the first time I read through it. Of course I don’t practice that, just the postures.
I’m not really that gung ho about doing IS2, but thought I’d read it and try it out and see if there were any insights I could take from it. At this point I don’t see myself pursuing it much.
I have, however, made it my goal to learn tai chi qigong this year. I have not taken any classes but I have read a book about the tai chi basics and have a DVD of a simple short form (called Simply Tai Chi). My plan is to read “Inner Structure of Tai Chi” by Chia and Juan Li, and get Marie Favorito’s DVD (see links below). I’m still working on DHQ for now, which I am due for an update (coming soon). Later this year will be IS3 (what I can get out of the book).January 21, 2014 at 11:02 pm #41831
I will be teaching Tai Chi Qigong this summer at Michael’s Healing Tao Retreats! I invite you to enroll. No Tai Chi experience of any kind is required.
There are three official Tai Chi Qigong forms in the Healing Tao.
So just like Iron Shirt, there are 3 levels: Tai Chi 1, 2, and 3.
In my summer course, I will be teaching Tai Chi 1 and 2.
FYI: Tai Chi 2 and 3 have been pretty consistent, with relatively few changes over the years. Tai Chi 1, on the other hand, Master Chia has changed drastically over the years, so that now the Tai Chi 1 form that he does is quite a bit different than the original form.
The BOOK, Inner Structure of Tai Chi covers the Tai Chi 1 form, and was written at a point midway during this transition (circa 1995).
The DVD, by Marie Favorito, also covers the Tai Chi 1 form, but is the performance of the original Tai Chi 1 form before any changes started happening. In fact, Marie’s DVD is probably the best example of the original Tai Chi 1 form (circa 1984).
BTW: If you have any questions about the class this summer, you can ask me. 🙂
StevenJanuary 24, 2014 at 9:31 am #41833
Thanks for the info and for the invite. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee myselft being able to attend a retreat anytime soon.
As I understand, Chia’s Tai Chi form is based on the Yang form but also has elements of other forms. I also understand that there are different frame sizes and form lengths. How are they different and how do the levels relate to other forms?January 28, 2014 at 5:35 am #41835
All three of the Tai Chi forms are quite different from each other.
Tai Chi 1 is mostly based on one of the Yang family branches. Having done various different Yang forms over the years, the Tai Chi 1 form is probably closest to the large frame category, although not necessarily an exact fit. Probably 2/3 of the other Yang forms I’ve done with the movements closer into body. By this, I am referring mainly to the old style Tai Chi 1. The new style Tai Chi 1 is quite different and incorporates elements of IS2, Tai Chi 2, and Dantian (Tan Tien) Qigong into the form.
Tai Chi 2 is also based on the Yang family, but it is not in the same Yang branch, so it is slightly different. Also, Tai Chi 2 is a fast form while Tai Chi 1 is a slow form. However, even exempting the speed issue, there are some clear style differences.
Tai Chi 3 is a tendon form, and comes from the Wu family, most closely related to Southern Wu. Tai Chi 3 is probably my favorite of the three, although also the least well-known.
SJanuary 30, 2014 at 3:36 pm #41837
Iron Shirt 2 is one of my main practices right now. I was lucky to be able to take a lesson this past summer and have been practicing pretty much daily since. I completely agree with Steven that there is no possible way to learn from the book. You do have a better chance with the DVD though I believe.
You just have to be very careful not to overdo your practice and IMO to constantly have in your mind that you are NOT stretching the tendons. I think that the analogy of tendons to rubber bands is good but it also makes it easy to fall into thinking that you are stretching your tendons… this is where you can injure yourself. When you first hear that you are changing and growing the tendons it sounds too weird. but after practicing for a while it is easier to understand. I have actually injured my tendons three times since starting the practice and the sobering thing is that all three times were NOT when I was doing Iron Shirt 2 exercises :)!
The first two happened while doing Tao Yin practices (which I have only learned from the book and DVD). The purpose of Tao Yin is not to stretch but being in these positions I sometimes forget, so when I was in the Love Cobra pose I stretched my tongue…pulling the tendon.
This is also where the Mung Beans come in. Luckily I realized that I had slightly injured myself so I did a thorough tapping of my neck which really helped in healing it in just a couple of days. The third time I injured myself I didn’t realize it in time to do a really thorough hitting with the beans, so spent well over a week crawling around having pulled the ligaments around my sacrum 🙁 miserable. It says to me how important it was to have taken proper lessons on Iron Shirt 2, which I can practice safely, but having to watch myself on other exercises that I learn on my own.
IS2 doesn’t sound like much fun from the above 🙂 but it is one of my favorite practices to do. Once you get the movement it really feels great. I do a set before Iron Shirt 1. When I reach the limit of being able to stand, I do another set… one of the problems I have with my structure is the tendons wrapping and pulling on my bones. The IS2 practices have started to soften them to the point where I can now feel all of the points of my feet on the floor, and begin to allow them to take my weight. I couldn’t do IS1 without IS2, they are so integrated for me.
Hope this helps,
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