We call this “the heart of GiCheon” because it tells everything about GiCheon and also has every study in it.
At the heart of GiCheon is NaeGa ShinJang, a difficult stance that trainees lovingly and deploringly call "The Hardship" as well as a way of discipline of keeping one’s spirit inside the body or becoming spiritually independent against all odds.
It's an awkward looking position that resembles the form a phoenix (a symbol of Korea in ancient times and that of Korean president today) hatches her eggs - a metaphor of metamorphosis or transformation of one's physical, mental, and spiritual entity.
In the mean time, it clearly shows general conditions of one's equilibrium throughout the entire body, such as flexibility & strength of all the muscles and joints, energy flow between left and right, & upper and lower limb, concentration on the body and mind, etc.
NaeGa ShinJang (Nae: inner or myself, Ga: structure, Shin: God or spirit, Jang: palm) indicates an inner spirit palm position or that of one's spirit growing near the heavens or being equal to it).
However, other names include “GiCheon TaeYang YeokGeun NaeGa ShinJang (TaeYang: the sun - This pose is conducted, originally facing to the rising Sun in the East for sun gazing)” or “MahBeop NaeGa ShinJang" or “Mah Beop (horse riding position).” The latter referring to a method Korean ancestors used to mount a horse. Many of the basic taichi, kungfu, and other martial arts positions are assumed to have been traced back to NaeGa ShinJang.
Consider three-dimensional space as four main directions: east, west, north, south, up, and down. The divine spirit, or 'Shin' (for NaeGa ShinJang) in Korean, is understood to perceive all of these directions equally at all times and to their fullest extent. GiCheon practitioner must therefore focus on conceiving of mind and body in this way, ie. in relation to all directions at infinite distance.
How to Do
From sunrise to sunset
Originally, it is said that the nameless GiCheon sages practiced NaeGa ShinJang from sunrise to sunset, while facing the Sun on the East Sea. And they didn’t allow applicants to learn GiCheon unless they could do NaeGa ShinJang for two hours (an hour in ancient Korean time) before they started.
When DaeYang JinIhn began to teach GiCheon in the late 1960’s, he also required people to do it for two hours for training. And he was surprised at finding out they couldn’t stand even for a few minutes. Then he shortened the time limit for an hour, later, tens of minutes and today 5 minutes for being minimum requirement.
Acupuntural & Internal benefits
NaeGaShinJang has also verifiable healing powers. It stimulates all of the major acupunctural points on the body and opens the energy channels, making it possible for many ailments and diseases to heal naturally. People suffering from serious ailments such as scoliosis or slipped discs, shoulder pain, cancer, heart diseases, hypertension, arthritis, apoplexy, aging problems, diabetes, chronic headaches, skin ailments and even obesity have all experienced dramatic improvement after practicing GiCheon regularly for six months (100 days - a minimum cycle of change for transformation) or more.
It also intensifies abdominal power by accumulating energy in the body, expands and develops three abdomens (the lower, middle and upper abdomen) simultaneously. So students are recommended to invest a lot of time to practice it.
Physiological benefits - ideal stretching
NaeGaShinJang is an ideal stretching pose that conditions all the muscles and joints of the entire body simultaneously. And so, it not only develops both of the Eum and Yang muscles together, strengthens the bones and ligaments but also improves flexibility of the muscles and joints in the entire body. One can improve strength as well as flexibility of the muscles and joints simultaneously, which is very unique to other stretching methods.
One can also have benefits as follow: Stress-relief, Lowered-blood pressure in individuals with moderate hypertension, Muscle relaxation, Relief from arthritis, joint pains, and spinal problems like scoliosis, partial paralysis, sleep disorders, chronic aches and pains, etc.
When one gets stressed emotionally, psychologically and spiritually, one becomes tense or nervous with the muscles and ligaments in order to reduce the impacts brought by the different kinds of stress. Then one has those impacts accumulated throughout the entire body gradually. unless they are treated throughout the entire body.
By conditioning muscles and ligaments throughout the entire body with abdominal breathing in the meditative status, one can reduce or relieve chronic tension and stress brought by different kinds of stress in life. Thus, one can have benefits as follow: Stronger focus and concentration, Reduced tension, anxiety, and stress, Clearer thinking, Support in kicking addictions and other self-destructive behavior, Greater creativity and enhanced performance in work and play, More joy, love, spontaneity, and greater intimacy with friends and family, Deeper sense of meaning and purpose; a glimpse of the spiritual dimension of being, Increase in alpha rhythms, the high-amplitude brain waves that are linked to relaxation and so on.
The TahTong and its Benefits
One of the reasons NaeGa ShinJang is so effective in treating illnesses is that it incorporates one of the therapies used in oriental medicine to treat patients suffering from paralysis, a treatment called "Tah Tong (Tah: beat, Tong: flow)". Using bamboo rods, oriental doctors of the long distant past would literally beat patients suffering from paralysis or apoplexy to help stimulate the affected part of the body.
In GiCheon too, TahTong is used to treat a kind of paralysis -- paralytic or stagnant energy. In the NaeGa ShinJang position, a GiCheon teacher will beat students on the back, arms, and legs with a set of thin bamboo sticks, or for more power, one large bamboo rod, wooden stick, wooden sword, and even iron stick. It means that when a strike of the weapon,for example, a stick or wooden sword can be less outstandingly damaged to an experienced practitioner.
To the uninitiated, it sounds masochistic, but the pain of TahTong is really quite mild, especially when compared to its benefits. The stimulation on the skin and muscles breaks through the blocked energy channels, causing a tingling sensation throughout the body. And in areas where there is a pre-existing injury, TahTong creates a greater feeling of strength and stability -- less hardship, in effect, than before the treatment. It’s importantly used for self healing or healing others.
This is also one of the few instances in which the GiCheon master comes into physical contact with trainees during practice and it's believed that the master passes on some portion of his power, some of his Gi, to his students through TahTong. It is said that TahTong would have been performed to only a selected student when GiCheon passed down in the mountains because of its enormous outcome.
NaeGa ShinJang is one of the greatest contributions of GiCheon, offering trainees extraordinary benefits. Through it, students learn the virtues of patience and perseverance, and can experience mental catharsis and unimaginable physical and mental empowerment -- something that cannot be expressed in words alone.