INTERNAL DAOIST ALCHEMY & THE WAYWARD ADVENTURES OF A SHAOLIN DISCIPLE are the subjects of some recent reading matter….as the holiday approaches and new years resolutions are made savour some alternative lifestyle runnings!
Despite having practiced “internal” martial arts with several different teachers not one of them introduced Nei Dan – Daoist internal alchemy – as an essential part of the curriculum. However, in recent times there has been an opening up, in terms of writings and therefore teaching, of the more esoteric energy cultivation techniques that have been practiced for centuries by Daoists.
In one of my recent reviews I was most fired up by Serge Augier’s lucid and engaging workbook on Shen Gong and Nei Dan in DA Xuan which covers the Daoist practices for developing mind, emotions and internal energy and provides specific exercises for cultivating and transforming the Jing (body energy), Qi (life force) and Shen (mind or spirit) on the path to enlightenment. Serge Augier’s book was published by Singing Dragon publications who have also published numerous books on internal Daoist practices by Mater Zhongxian Wu and UK based practitioner Damo Mitchell.
White Moon On The Mountain Peak is Damo’s fourth and most recent book for Swimming Dragon and this weighty 380 page tome provides an accessible insight, for practitioners on all levels, into the “Alchemical firing process of Nei Dan”. Drawing on his own experiences, he explains the practice, the process and energetics of Daoist internal alchemy which until very recently been a closely guarded secret.
In the book he succeeds in drawing together a huge amount of esoteric material with the aim of presenting the underlining theories while systematically fleshing out a guide for practice that offers important insights into the different stages of attainment. He describes the tangible results that should appear through practice while warning of the potential pitfalls of alchemical training.
In the end I suppose it’s down to what you want out your training. There’a a lot more information available today that makes me wonder where I’d be today had I known about certain practices a couple of decades ago. That said, to focus on that would be a waste of energy. Right now, it seems more sensible to seek guidance as to what I should be focussed on and then get on it. A book like White Moon On The Mountain Peak is a guide to practice but it also hits home as a call to find a genuine teacher who can help you on a journey which, I sense, will be seriously demanding in terms of discipline and one’s mental state.
For those who are happy to ignore all this deep, esoteric Nei Dan stuff and just work on your taijiquan forms (if that’s your bag!) I recommend having a shufti at Wang Fengming’s – The Essence Of Taijiquan Push Hands and fighting Technique. I believe Master Wang is the son in law of the late Hunyuan taijiquan grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang, who was an inner door disciple of Chen taijiquan legend Chen Fake, and this book is rooted in Feng’s teachings.
If you practice Chen village taijiquan and their push hands you will definitely find this book useful. I first came across Wang Fengming when I was researching the neigong exercise of Feng Zhiqiang and grandmaster Hu Yaozhen which I have long enjoyed practicing. back then, I sought out his book, The Essence Of Daoism Qigong. Unfortunately, for me, that book suffered from on the translation tip but there’s no such problem with this chunky large format book which features:
– Effective ways of cultivating Taiji internal power
– Variety of joint-locking techniques and counter techniques
– 13 postures of Taiji explained
– Leg work, including stances and kicking techniques
– unique silk-reeling exercises
– Rarely revealed vital point striking
– 7 styles of push-hands training
– 20 kinds of Taiji energy explained and demonstrated.
ABOVE: Feng Zhiqiang demonstrates on a young Wang Fengming in Japan
So, for all who are interested in push hands and the martial applications of taijiquan this could proved be a well thumbed book in a few years time.
Finally on the Shaolin Kung Fu vibe is a book that I discovered via Alex Kozma and Steve Benitez’s Flying Monk Youtube vids. The book is called Sugong, it’s about the life of Shaolin master Qwek and Grand Master Sek Koh Sum and it written by Nick Hurst of the Nam Pai Chuan school in London. As my godson and his sister had trained at the Nam Pai Chuan school in London and as much of the book is located Malaysia – which was the focus of anther book I’d recently reviewed – Wisdom Of Taiji Masters: Insights Into Cheng Man Ching’s Art – I thought , “Yeah, I need to read this!”. Essentially, it’s a highly enjoyable, entertaining, warts ‘n’ all biographical tale of a relatively modern master. Good holiday read… check the vid…
Sugong is published by Sportsbooks (2012)
The Essence Of Taijiquan Push Hands and fighting Technique</em is published by Singing Dragon