Qi Gong and Nei Gong are somewhat interchangeable terms for “internal exercises” that focus on the internal dynamics of the body, the breath, body alignment and the circulation of the channels and collaterals (meridians). These exercises are important tools for maintaining health and nourishing life. They also function as the “physical therapy” of traditional Chinese medicine because specific exercises can be prescribed for specific medical conditions. Internal exercises form the foundational training of the internal martial arts.
Specific Qi Gong and Nei Gong practices that develop inner strength and correct body structure prepare the body simultaneously form the core of the more specific martial training that follows. In Tai Ji Quan and Xing Yi Quan, standing exercises, stance holding and Tu Na (breathing exercises) serve this purpose while Ba Gua Nei Gong primarily involves turning and circular walking while holding fixed postures that stimulate and open the meridians.