Below are some insights on internal training which I have picked up from my study under my teacher, GM Zhu Tian Cai as well as from his writings. I hope this will be helpful to everyone who is striving to proceed deeper into their development of Taijiquan.
Yi and Qi
The focal training goal in Chen Style Taijiquan is developing awareness and intent, or, yi, which plays a primary role in Chen Style training. Before a movement is executed, the mind should have established a mental grasp of the physical form to be rendered. Only then will qi be engendered to motivate the body to move in synchrony. The mind is always in the forefront when training such that one is very much aware of the internal sensations running through your body. Your intent should lead and control the motion of your body. You should not be parroting movements mechanically without thinking about them. As you move, you need to concentrate on the physical act, and think about the intent behind the move. For example, when you move and shift your feet, it should be your mind prompting your qi, and your qi will then move your feet, together with the rest of your body in a line of unbroken connection. You need to focus attention in achieving proper body mechanics and the maintenance of a relaxed, comfortable posture.
Needless to say, the power of the mind figures very strongly in the training. This kind of Taijiquan practice builds upon a person’s concentration, which transfers over beneficially into life.
Yi and qi will develop only through time, with unrelenting practice of the correct forms and postures. There are no short cuts. Firstly, one needs to master the form correctly. Only with constant practice, does one start to have an awareness of the form. Then, one will begin to understand how your elbow, shoulder, and wrist coordinate with each other, as well as the rest of your body. Thus, one needs to practice to attain the correct and comfortable bodily alignment for each movement. Hence, one should strive to posture the body correctly for every movement during the entire Taijiquan routine. In time, your body should be able to listen to your mind. Once you are aware of how your body moves, you will discover that your forms can be executed without much effort and in a relaxed manner.
In order to correctly execute the Chen Style forms, one must learn to develop Zhong Ding or central equilibrium.
Qi and Internal Energy
What is qi? It can be compared to a basketball filled with air, where the static air is similar to qi. When left alone, the ball stays still until a skilled player bounces it, so that it rebounds up. This bounce back action is jin. As one practises, qi sensations will be developed, which can be felt as swelling of the hands. Gradually, over time, it feels like the entire feet are riveted to the ground. The cultivation of qi will increase a person’s energy levels. And jin or internal strength is essentially the acceleration of qi. Jin is the manifestation of qi externally.
By focusing the training internally, internal energy, nei jin or jin, will develop. Internal energy is created when qi sinks into the dantian, or lower abdomen, then flows down to the feet as original qi (yuan qi), and gets pumped back up to the upper torso to the arms and hands as cultivated qi, powered by the mind. Jin is actually the acceleration of qi. In other words, qi is outwardly manifested as jin.
When your mind, qi and body is united, you will be able to release powerful bursts of energy, or fa jin. However, it takes year and years of practice before a person can unify their mind and body at will, in order to fa jin.