The phrase comes from ancient Helbrennian and means, loosely, “Nothingness from everything” or “Nothing out of everything”. It is not a martial art at all, only a martial philosophy.
It is a philosophy devised by the Helbrennian Faeshir Lokirtha Pokjara. She had been watching several other Faeshir sparring, and later that korva been to a tournament and realised that she could just about predict the moves of each combatant. She meditated on the matter and realised that the reason was that styles were predictable. If she had seen one Ruvellian fencer, she surmised, she had in essence seen them all. If two of them faced off the winner was, inevitably, either the more experienced or the faster and nothing more. They would move into positions just mere moments before the opponent’s attack out of the sure knowledge that, having just done thus, then this would be the next move. Pokjara found this abhorrent, even though she had great respect for the power and fluidity of the Ruvellian sword forms.
She set out to find the key to true martial superiority. A pure art that could not be predicted that levelled the field by allowing speed or skill to be equally useful. Experience and knowledge to be tools and aids, not advantages – that an apprentice could defeat the master because they could know only themselves and fought purely within the moment of the battle. Skills, speed and experience would come together and the fighter with the most of all three would be the victor.
Pokjara meditated long on the matter and came up with Nento Exaoni Gach. She felt that to become a pure warrior, and unbeatable then one must be able to fight their own shadow and win. NenEG, she would explain to her students, first means to look at yourself and see your weaknesses. Then you must see that your weaknesses are strengths. She would teach that, for example, if you are slow then an opponent will try to use speed against you, if you are already aware that you are slow then you will be prepared to counter speed – and if your opponent is slow too then it is neither weakness nor strength, but that is no matter that which is neutral is that which can do no harm. In short a NenEG practitioner learns first to fight themselves and then use what they learn to defend themselves.
After learning to beat their shadows her students would learn to use their minds. Pokjara would say that an Ilzwokie could beat an Urslich if the Ilzwokie can out think the Urslich – size matters for nothing. The Ilzwokie’s weaknesses of size and lesser strength of arm can be turned against the Urslich if the Ilzwokie learns to See the opponent in the moment of the fight and instantly know the weaknesses of the other fighter and then attack them without mercy and without thought.
The latter, she would say, is the greatest importance. Instinct, and the random chaos of the moment. Do not plan. Use your mind to See, but then let your body and your senses fight the battle. The opponent may do something unpredictable by design or accident, if you are thinking of the future you cannot know the present.
Because of this NenEG practitioners are known to be avid students, both formally and informally, of all martial arts styles. It is not unheard of for one to hold an Aslith blade in a Ruvellian stance while engaging in a distinctly Junillian feint. The NenEG philosopher revels in fluidity and chaos.
Between origins among the Faeshir, popular entertainment depictions, and some truly remarkable practitioners throughout its two Standard Centuries of existence there are many legends and expectations about NenEG. That its philosophers learn to fly, or to stand back casually as their opponents beat themselves senseless and numerous other mystical powers gained from their martial introspection. While they do make for exciting tales there have been no confirmed reports of any such (except the flying, technically, but as the practitioner in question was a Vriltorin this clearly had nothing to do with NenEG and everything to do with her possession of a stout pair of wings along with the balance of her race).