QA: Qigong and Neigong

Dear Sifu Mancuso,
Is the difference between qigong and neigong simply a matter of intention, so for example, could many qigong routines become neigong ones by simply a change of focus or mental attitude, and vice versa?
Thank you,
Thomas Kiefer

A great question, Thomas, if for no other reason than I am sure my answer will satisfy only a small percentage of people. It’s a bit complicated because these names can be thought of generically and specifically at the same time. The term Qigong is a catch-all. It’s pretty much whatever anyone wants to call Qigong. The term Nei Gong is more specific but covers a lot of things we think of as Qigong but also things we think of as exercise.

Correct Qigong is built upon the Three Pillars: posture, mind and qi. The intent can be general like relaxing or specific such as focusing on a acupuncture channel. In general Qigong does not simultaneously challenge such things as strength and coordination. It removes all distractions but the three pillars. Qigong that is meditative, with little technical and mostly internal adjustment is not Nei Gong, because it transforms your state almost entirely through energetics. Most practitioners would not call this Nei Gong.

Nei Gong focuses its intent inward. It doesn’t just imagine the internal organs effected by the exercise; it MAKES postures and breathing methods work by actually torquing and controlling the body to enhance not only the movement of energy but also the actual physical mechanics. Nei Gong is Physical Therapy turned inside out. So, as you say, the intent is different, but so is the technique. Where Qigong is often a stroll, Nei Gong is jogging. Nei Gong strengthens, and refines with very precise and sometimes difficult actions. Nei Gong always has a focused purpose. One way to gauge them is that Qigong is often used for restoration of normal health while Nei Gong goes beyond  to high level skill and strength. In this sense it is more preventative than therapeutic.

Hope this helps.


One Response to “QA: Qigong and Neigong”

  1. Thomas Kiefer says:

    Dear Sifu Mancuso–
    Thank you so much for your answer. There is much to ponder therein, and I am still getting more out of it, even after reading it several times.
    Thomas K.

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