Here are some insights and very basic history of Internal Boxing. Just thought I would share.
Internal Boxing has a few main principles that can be applied to other martial arts and movement systems.
The most important is how the Masters of ages past have taught us to stand and breathe. They are called the Five Bows and Belly Breathing, where you elongate and curve your spine, each arm, and each leg and breathe deep into the center of your abdomen. This collapses your chest, relaxes your shoulders, and engages your core. It is a foundational practice for qigong (soft exercises for vitality and internal power) and Internal Boxing alike. All movements stem from this posture as it allows for the most effective form of power application with the principles of sinking, folding, and spiraling. Within this posture one learns to ground and relax and react from a tension free state.
Next are the Six Connections which are your wrists and ankles, elbows and knees, shoulders and hips. Your whole body moves from your lower belly, or 'core', and if your wrist moves, your ankle moves, when your knee bends, your elbow follows suit. At first it is normal to practice over exaggerated movements such as found in Shaolin Long Fist or Shotokan Karate that help not only to teach the body to move in synch but to strengthen the muscles and tendons while also helping to relax and stretch the minor and major muscle groups.
As has been mentioned, all movement stems from your ‘core’, what the Daoists call the Lower Dan Ti'en (Cauldron or Elixir Field, depending on the translation and school), the Japanese martial artists call it your Hara, and in fitness it is known as the Core (although your spine and it's closest muscle groups are more appropriate to consider your core, or Center Line as martial artists call it).
Yiquan (Intent Fist), a form of standing qigong, is a good place to begin mental training, energetic awareness, and power development. Like all secrets of martial arts it is not how complicated the external movements are but the concentration the adept has on a single movement, or lack thereof, and how many situations can be affected by a single action or non-action.
In Xingyiquan (Mind Intent Fist), although I have very little training in this style I have found three very basic principles and techniques that help with training that an instructor showed me – San Ti (Trinity Posture), which is a static posture, Drilling Fist, which is a devastating twisting strike, and Spade Step, which is a powerful form of foot work which involves dragging your back foot as if it were a spade in dirt as your front leg drags you forward to deliver strong and rooted strikes. All balance is predominately on the back leg for powerful movement, blocking, and striking power. Some say Xingyiquan is based upon Yu Fei's Spear tactics, and the five strikes are based upon the Five Phases, or Wuxing, of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
In Baguazhang (Eight Changing Palms) Walking the Circle works your basic foot work, learning space and distance, whole body coordination, and balance. Single Palm Change develops spiraling power, techniques of blocking, striking, and felling. Relaxation and speed are crucial to Baguazhang and multiple attackers are its main martial focus. It is said Dong Hai Quan (the founder of Baguazhang) watched a Doaist Priest perform a ritual that utilized eight different palm and body changes with certain mantras and breathing patterns. Already being a Master of Shaolin School Kung Fu, he saw the similarities of this secret ritual and kung fu and related the Five Shaolin Animals to the Eight Trigrams of the Yijing, thus creating Baguazhang.
In Taijiquan (Grand Ultimate Fist) the Eight Energies of Taijiquan are crucial to the development of Taijiquan meditation and combat efficiency. Like the theories and applications of Baguazhang, the Eight Energies of Taijiquan are said to be based on the Yijing Diagram, or Diagram of Changes. Each trigram (a series of lines, where broken lines represent Yin, or soft, and solid lines represent Yang, or hard, in a most basic definition) have qualities relating to elements, animals, and energetic and philosophical components. Zhang Senfeng is the mythological founder of Taijiquan who was said to be a Daoist Immortal, a Master of Internal Alchemy. He was gifted with a dream by a Daoist God of a crane and snake fighting. No matter what the crane did the snake yielded and evaded before attacking, showing the effectiveness of softness and flexibility over strength and size. No one knows if Zhang Sanfeng was a real person or not, but what it is known that Taijiquan is one of the most popular martial arts styles in the world because of its healing ability for the sick and elderly and the deeper teachings for martial artists. Another fact, the Chen Family Style of Taijiquan is the basis for all other styles of Taijiquan, directly or indirectly, and is still practiced and taught today by the Chen Family in Chenjiagou in Henan Province in Northern China.
After a while the traditional forms become like a dance and movements come from a place of body wisdom not just technique. Each movement has an intention, a type of power that can be used for striking, blocking, evading, or off balancing. In combat these techniques become reaction coming from a place of relaxed awareness and internal calm. Although we evolve as human beings and symbiotic creatures upon our planet, our bodies have remained just about the same for tens of thousands of years. These techniques, give or take a few changes, have been taught in the mountains of China for thousands of years. If we take anything from Chinese teaching it is that certain things are timeless no matter the person, culture, or place in history it is being taught, and Internal Boxing is one of those teachings. It is beyond comprehension to those who merely look at it from an outside perspective, and even to those that make the journey themselves with sweat, bruised bodies, and bruised egos, still search for the Secrets of this most mystical art form.
“The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.” -Dhammapada-