chi flow

Gentle chi flow movement

Question 12

Last year at the Intensive Taijiquan course you taught that after internal force practice, such as Lifting Water or Three Circle Stance, one can choose to let chi flow freely, or first let the chi flow be quite still and then let go more, or let the chi flow be calm.

How does this affect on building force?

Sifu Nessa Kahila


Chi flow after building internal force brings four wonderful benefits that even some masters may not know!

  1. It erases harmful side effects due to unwitting wrong practice.
  2. It enhances force building.
  3. It attains better balance of energy.
  4. It puts internal force to better uses.

Some people may be surprise that many Chinese themselves are dreadful of internal force training. Even when they have an opportunity to train internal force, they may not want to. This is an interesting contrast to many people in the West who try to practice internal force on their own, and then teach others.

The main reason why many Chinese are dreadful of internal force is that they are afraid to train wrongly. They know very well that wrong training brings deviation, known by a frightening term in Chinese (Cantonese) as “chow for yap mor”.

Word by word “chow for yap mor” means “escape fire enter devil”. If a practitioner practices internal force wrongly, his own life force, represented here as fire, may be dissipated, and harm, represented as devil, will result. The modern term “deviation’ is less frightening.

While harmful effects of “chow for yap mor” or deviation are true, they are not as horrible as these people imagine. Internal force training is safer than driving a car or swimming in the sea. But one must learn internal force from a competent teacher. Learning on his own is asking for trouble.

Chi flow after internal force building is an excellent safeguard against deviation. Even when a practitioner has made some mistakes in his training, the chi flow will erase the harmful effects of these mistakes, without the practitioner doing anything extra!

Mistakes here refer to wrong practice due to carelessness or forgetfulness. If a practitioner purposely go against instructions, he is asking for trouble. For example, a very important instruction in any internal force training is to be relaxed. If a practitioner, due to carelessness or forgetfulness, tenses his muscles, but attempts to be relaxed when he recalls the instruction, he needs not worry or do any extra remedial exercise. His chi flow at the completion of his force training will automatically clear any harmful effects his mistakes may have caused.

But if he purposefully tenses his muscles although he knows he should not, perhaps wrongly thinking that this may increase his force, he is a fool. He will definitely derive serious harmful effects.

Although chi flow is our norm, it is rarely found in other schools. Hence, internal force practitioners of other schools do not have this safety precaution.

Besides erasing harmful effects, chi flow also enhances the result, often by a big margin though a practitioner may not be aware of it, and sometimes may even think that some of the internal force developed has been lost due to the chi flow. For example, if a practitioner spends 15 minutes training and builds 100 units of internal force, he may build 150 units if he spends 10 minutes on training and 5 minutes on chi flow.

The increase of internal force is due to his chi flow attracting more energy from the Cosmos to flow into his body. Moreover, energy that is flowing is more powerful than energy that is static.

Although there is an increase of internal force, say from 100 units to 150 units, the practitioner may have an illusion that the force is less. This is because the force is spread out due to the chi flow. When he practices Lifting Water, for example, before chi flow there were 100 units of force in his hands. After chi flow, there are only 60 units of force in his hands, the other 90 units are spread over other parts of his body.

This spreading of energy to other parts of his body helps him to attain energy balance, otherwise the energy is localized at the place of training, like his hands. Better energy balance contributes to his physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health.

If too much internal force is localized in a practitioner’s chest after training Three-Circle Stance, for example, physically the function of his lungs may be affected, emotionally he may feel oppressed, mentally he may feel dull, and spiritually he may be disorientated. If the energy is spread over his body, his lungs will function better, emotionally he feels confident, mentally he is fresh, and spiritually he is peaceful.

Without chi flow, the internal force developed will be limited in its uses. It will make him a more efficient fighter, but it may not enrich his daily life. It may not even make him healthier or enhance his mental clarity. Having chi flow after his internal force building will give him all these wonderful benefits.

The countless wonderful benefits of internal force can be classified into three categories as follows:

  1. To maintain life.
  2. To enhance life.
  3. To enable a practitioner have better results no matter what he does.

All these wonderful benefits are possible with chi flow. Without chi flow, even when a practitioner has internal force, he may not enjoy these wonderful benefits.

As I have mentioned earlier, even masters, past and present, may not have this invaluable knowledge.

When past masters were sick or injured, which threatened life, they had to take medication. They could not generate a chi flow to overcome their sickness or injury. The great Taijiquan master, Yang Deng Fu, for example, suffered an internal injury, which he sustained when sparring with his father, for life.

Chi flow enables our internal force to enhance our life. The great Xingyiquan master, Guo Yun Sheng, for example, had tremendous internal force, but he was easily irritable. He did not have chi flow to spread his force and open his heart.

In whatever he does, a person with internal force will produce better result than if he had no internal force. This is possible when the internal force is flowing.

If it is localized at when it is trained, like at the palms of an Iron Palm practitioner, its usefulness is limited to only breaking bricks or opponents’ bones. It cannot be used to enhance intellectual activities like planning a project, or even in physical activities like running up a flight of stairs.

Chi flow can convert the localized force to flowing force which can be used anywhere and for whatever purposes. For example, it can convert the Iron Palm force of a practitioner to his intellectual force for him to plan a project, or to mobile force at his legs to enable him running up a flight of stairs without being tired or panting. Many of our students have reported better result in whatever they do after training internal force, which in our case is always followed with chi flow.

For more refinement to have even better results, we can vary the modes of chi flow, such as:

  1. Letting chi flow freely.
  2. First letting chi flow be quite still, then letting go more.
  3. Letting chi flow be calm, or in other words be flowingly still.

These different chi flow modes have different effects on building internal force.

When we let chi flow freely, we use our internal force to clear blockage. It is an excellent mode for overcoming pain, injury and illness. In our sparring, if we are accidentally hurt, we can go into a vigorous chi flow to clear out the injury immediately.

When we keep quite still initially, we build up our internal force. Then when we let go more, we allow our internal force to flow moderately. This is effective for strengthening and nourishing ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. As a result we have more power in our physical movement, have better control over our emotions, our mind become more focus and fresh, and we become peaceful and happy.

By remaining to be flowingly still, we allow our internal force to build. This can increase our force building tremendously. For example, after practicing Lifting Water we have developed 100 units of internal force. If we remain flowingly still for some time, instead of just walking away after our training, we can increase our internal force to 300 units! We can also enhance our mental clarity and spiritual joy.

Having the skills as well as the philosophical understanding of these various modes of chi flow enable us to be very cost-effective and to adjust our practice to suit our aspirations and situations. If, for example, after standing flowingly still to increase our internal force, we find that the increase is beginning to feel overbearing, we may let go more and move moderately to spread the force.

Or after a vigorous chi flow to clear our injury, we wish to enhance your mental clarity to perform some intellectual work after training, we can slow down our movement to become flowingly still. Internal force and chi flow are not only very beneficial, they are also a lot of fun.

chi flow

Vigorous chi flow movement

Shaolin Wahnam Summer Camp 2014

Secrets of Building Internal Focce – Overview

The questions and answers are reproduced from the thread Secrets of Building Internal Force in the Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.