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In the first days of March this year I visited Mr.Feng Zhiqiang at his home in Beijing. Because of annoying traffic jams I came to a place near his home quite late and we did not have much time for the conversation. Since he and his family were afraid that I would not find the place, Mr.Feng's daughter came out to meet me and then Mr.Feng also came out to greet me and we all went to his apartment. Mr.Feng was very friendly, full of energy, often joking (he complained about being too short because "it was so easy for a tall person to fetch things that are put on a high shelf..."), open during the conversation. He answered all the question I was asking and it is a real pity the time was so short...

The questions for this interview were sent by persons who subscribed to the updates notifications of this site as well as by some members of Internet discussion lists.

Jarek Szymanski: Mr.Feng, it is known that you studied Shaolin Standing Post methods in your youth. How would you compare it to Neijia practice?

 
MR.FENG ZHIQIANG: Yes, I learnt and practised Standing Post exercises of Shaolin school. The main difference between them and the methods of Neijia school is that Neijia emphasizes relaxation to greater degree. For this I think there is certain reason in dividing martial arts into External and Internal Families. It is also related to the methods of using Qi - External Family (Waijia) uses physical strength (Li) to drive Qi, while Internal Family (Neijia) uses Intention (Yi) to move Qi. Anyway, I had to give up all my external practise after I started practising Neijia.
JS: What is Qi?

Feng Zhiqiang performing one of his Neigong (internal) exercises
 

MR.FENG: Qi is a kind of driving force (Dong Li). For example blood circulation can be explained with the term "Qi". Internal styles say: "exercise Intention (Yi), not Qi", "when you use Intention, your channels will not be blocked", "exercise Qi, not physical strength (Li); when you exercise physical strength, it will easily break"; "Intention should be focused on Spirit (Shen), not Qi; when it is focused on Qi, then Qi will become stagnant". There is also another saying "Where Intention arrives, Qi also arrives". However one has to build Qi to reach this level. Qi comes from food, from breathing, it is also given to us by our parents and stored in the body as "Original Qi" (Yuan Qi).
JS: You are well known as Chen style Taijiquan expert, but you also learnt Liuhe Xinyiquan. Could you tell more about your studies of this style?

MR.FENG: My Xinyiquan teacher, Hu Yaozhen, was from Yuci in Shanxi Province. His style was of Wang Fuyuan's and Peng Tingjuan's lineage. I was studying under Hu's guidance for nine years. Hu Yaozhen put great emphasis on standing post exercises (Zhan Zhuang). I learnt many standing methods from him, not only San Ti Shi, but also Embrasing Post (Bao Zhuang), Closing Post (He Zhuang), Even Post (Ping Zhuang) and others. Each method had to be practised for three years, and while outside form did not really change, the Intention was changing. The teacher was teaching different Intentions to different students, it was very individual, and the Intentions were changing with the level of the practitioner.

JS: Was it then something similar to Yi Quan (Intention Boxing)?

MR.FENG: I do not know enough about Yi Quan to be able to compare the methods. Hu Yaozhen did not teach standing methods where palms were turned outwards because in his opinion this made Qi flow away.

JS: Is Qi related to Dantian?

MR.FENG: Dantian is closely related to movements of the waist. In microscale it is the center of the body - point between belly button and Mingmen, where Qi originates from. In macroscale it covers whole body. In order to develop Dantian one should start from standing exercises and collect and nourish Qi - first focus Intention on the center of the body. Once the Qi in the body becomes abundant, one feels warm and movement inside. Then Dantian breathing should be used to induce the outside movement of the body with internal movement. When Intention and Qi are coordinated, Dantian turns and Qi flows freely in the whole body. All parts of the body move in a round way. This is Hunyuan.

JS: "Hunyuan" seems to be very important idea as you decided to add it to the name of your system...

 
 
Feng Zhiqiang performing Low Circle Hunyuan Post (Xiahuan Hunyuan Zhuang)

MR.FENG: Heaven and Earth are continuously revolving, stars, the Sun, all of the heavenly bodies spin and rotate. This round, circular, coordinated movement is called "Hunyuan". This movement should also be reflected in martial arts practice. I learnt many martial arts and walked a very crooked path before I understood the core of Neijia arts. I want to show other people a straight, direct path to achieve high skill. For this reason I emphasize "Hunyuan" and the function of Xinyi (Mind and Intention).

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