To transition from External Martial Arts to Internal Martial Arts, one needs to change the way force is utilized. As Huang Baijia said: “Zhang Sanfeng excelled in Shaolin and then transformed to Internal Martial Arts. This is known as Internal Martial Arts. If you grasp either of these, it is enough to surpass Shaolin.” The phrase “transform to Internal Martial Arts” means converting the external muscular strength to internal power. However, even in different stages of training in Internal Martial Arts, there is still a need to change the way force is used.
1. **Transforming Whole-Body Power into Hunyuan Force:** Whole-body power refers to the force generated from the entire body as opposed to isolated parts in External Martial Arts. In Heart-Intention Boxing, whole-body power is cultivated through stretching and elongating the muscles while performing movements. This leads to the strengthening of tendons and bones. Practitioners of Baguazhang should focus on elongating the muscles during twisting, wrapping, drilling, and overturning movements, particularly in the waist and legs. For beginners of Tai Chi, even in practicing the martial form, they should aim to open up the postures, emphasizing expansion before compactness. The cultivation of whole-body power is essential to achieve Hunyuan (mixed origin) force.
2. **Transforming Hunyuan Force into Lingjin (Spiritual Force):** As Hunyuan Qi forms in the lower abdomen, it can be used to drive the whole body, resulting in immediate spring-like power and resistance to strikes. As the Hunyuan Qi grows in the lower abdomen, the force also becomes stronger. Unlike Whole-body power, Hunyuan force emphasizes support from six sides and originates from trembling and exploding in the lower abdomen. After cultivating whole-body power following the path of the Governing Vessel, it is natural for Hunyuan Qi to circulate the Microcosmic Orbit, forming Hunyuan force. However, as Hunyuan Qi is postnatal in origin, it should not be retained in the Governor and Conception Vessels; otherwise, it may cause problems. To avoid this, one should seek a state of emptiness and quietness and ignite the Yin fire through concentration. This will transform Hunyuan Qi into Primal Qi (Xiantian Qi), marking the progress to Lingjin.
3. **Cultivating Spirit to Achieve Flight:** At the beginning of cultivating Lingjin, the focus is on nourishing Qi and cultivating spirit. Once Lingjin is achieved, each movement becomes as fluid as mercury. With Lingjin present, the practitioner can exhibit extraordinary lightness, seemingly able to fly on land. The key is to focus on internal training. Thoughts should not interfere; “Yuan Shen is the true awareness in the brain without thoughts.” Practitioners often hear the advice to cultivate agility in addition to martial arts training. During the “Crouching Monkey” stance or while practicing the secret “Heel-Crane Stance,” the practitioner should seek a moment of alertness within their deep calmness. By seizing this feeling, they will eventually master agility.
Cultivating Lingjin is not only a theoretical concept but also a transformation of the body. First, Qi should be gathered into the bones. Starting from the lower back, the spinal column should generate heat, even in cold weather. This is known as “Yang in the bones.” For more details on gathering Qi into the bones, one may refer to the author’s other works. After the initial work of washing the marrow with Xiantian Qi, the body will become lighter, laying the foundation for Lingjin. The practice of “cultivating Qi and lightening the bones” is also emphasized in Islamic martial arts from the Western regions. The students of the original Sufi tradition in Northwestern China incorporated essence from Central Plains martial arts, such as the Tangping Quan and Zha Quan systems.
With Lingjin (Clever Force or smart Force) mastered, one can fight without hesitation and effortlessly combine offense and defense. Heart-Intention practitioners will merge striking and merging; Baguazhang practitioners will seamlessly turn and transition; Tai Chi practitioners will combine striking and merging, and strike first while maintaining flexibility. Lingjin users should apply more intercepting techniques. The moment the opponent’s root and extremities move slightly before taking action, one should seize them like an eagle seizing its prey, trapping the opponent’s extremities and breaking their root. The movements should be without patterns or forms, allowing the body and techniques to flow freely – as the saying goes, “Let no pattern be the pattern to respond to all patterns.”
With Lingjin achieved, the mind will become empty and enter a state of natural nothingness. The Yuan Shen (Primal Spirit) will be refined, becoming pure and unyielding, transforming into the essence of Tao and Buddha. Gradually, your martial arts will become one with the Tao.