What is Qigong

Highlight: Qi represents the “vital-energy that flows through all things in the universe.” and Gong refers to any kind of physical or mental practice. 

 

What is Qigong?

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According to the National Qigong Association, “Qigong is an ancient Chinese healthcare system that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention”.  Qi, which is pronounced as “chee” in mandarin, represents the “vital-energy that flows through all things in the universe.” and Gong refers to any kind of physical or mental practice. From a traditional Chinese medicine point of view, Qigong is a way of healing the human body through self-training and adjustment. As Qigong became mainstream, a lot of medical research was carried out to study its benefits, and it has been proven that practicing Qigong can be beneficial to both mental and physical health.

 

History of Qigong

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Qigong is a type of traditional exercise in China for keeping health and fitness. It was first recognized as “Tu Na” around 3000 years ago in ancient China. Tu Na means breathing and the famous philosopher Zhuang  Zi explained in his book Nan Hua Jing that breathing until it reaches down to your heel is the secret of being immortal. Later, the Six Healing Sounds of Qigong was invented by Taoism, an ancient religious belief in China.  It is a breathing technique that can improve healing and longevity. Another important practice in Qigong is meditation. Meditation was brought to China by Da Mo, the first Buddhist Patriarch Bodhidharma, during the Liang dynasty and it aims to balance the Qi that flows through our body. Meditation can be beneficial to both our minds and bodies. On top of breathing exercises, martial Qigong was created based on the theories and principles of both Taoist and Buddhist. Today, Qigong has developed into a range of exercises that help to heal and energize people and create balance in our body.

 

Types of Qigong and Benefits

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Qigong can be divided into four categories, namely health, medical, spiritual and martial. Health Qigong, which normally involves supine or seated meditation, breathing exercises and gentle movements, can help to ease stress and raise confidence. Medical Qigong refers to the way to treat patients by using energy manipulation, herbal remedies and Chinese massage techniques. It needs to be done by a qualified Qigong practitioner and is proven to strengthen the immune system, nervous system and internal organs. Other benefits of medical Qigong are regulating hormones, reducing pain and relieving stress. Spiritual Qigong is religion-based and combines seated or moving meditation and prayer. The purpose of Spiritual Qigong differs in religions but it is often to achieve harmony and self-awareness. The last type is martial qigong, which is practiced to strengthen skills in martial arts such as speed, power, flexibility, balance and coordination. It can also help to improve performance in other sports like football or swimming.

 

 

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The Five Elements of Taijiquan

Highlight: Taijiquan practice has gained worldwide popularity and has been compared to the “yoga of China”, in that many health benefits for both the mind and body are gained through the practice. 

Taijiquan is commonly referred to in the Western world as the practice of “tai chi”, which translates into “supreme ultimate boxing” in the martial arts realm. It is seen as an art for defence training, and holds many health benefits for those who practice it. The conceptual practice links to both Taoist and Confucian backgrounds, and the popular taijitu symbol of the fusion of the yin and yang.

 

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The 5 elements of Taijiquan

Though it is characterized for its slow movements, there are several traditions of Taijiquan that involve faster and medium paces, and all involve a total of five elements: taolu, neigong, qigong, tuishou, and sanshou. Taolu refers to hand and weapon routines, neigong to breathing and movement, qigong to awareness and meditation, tuishou to response and reactions, and sanshou to self-defence. The practice has gained worldwide popularity and has been compared to the “yoga of China”, in that many health benefits for both the mind and body are gained through the practice.

 

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Derived movement from Taijiquan

Various martial arts styles are derived from the original Taijiquan (born in Chen Village of China), including the slow-movement version coined “needle in cotton” that has been adopted by a branch of Lama Pai. Taijiquan popularity trends have led to thecreation of books, movies, and pamphlets that disseminate knowledge and expertise on the practice, even when several of the techniques or adaptations deviate from original historic routes. One thing is for sure, though: Taijiquan is one of China’s biggest cultural exports to the Western world, and it is continuously propagated both as a martial art and as a vehicle for mental and physical health alike.

 

 

 

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Tai Chi

Tai Chi Chuan (literally “Supreme Ultimate Fist”), often shortened to Taichi or Tai Chi in the West, is a type of internal Chinese martial art practiced for both its defense training and its health benefits. It is also believed that focusing the mind solely on the movements of the form helps to bring about a state of mental calm and clarity.

 
 Chinese Kungfu

Style

There are five major styles of tai chi chuan, each named after the Chinese family from which it originated. Most modern styles of Tai chi chuan trace their development to at least one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu, and Sun. Later dozens of new styles, hybrid styles, and offshoots of the main styles appear, but the five family schools are the groups recognized by the international community as being the orthodox styles.

Chen-style tai chi
 Chinese Kungfu
Yang-style tai chi
 Chinese Kungfu

Training and Techniques

The core training involves two primary features: the first being the solo form, a slow sequence of movements which emphasize a straight spine, abdominal breathing and a natural range of motion; the second being different styles of pushing hands with a partner and in a more practical manner.

 
 Chinese Kungfu

Study of Tai Chi Chuan

The study of tai chi chuan primarily involves three aspects:

Health: Tai chi’s health training concentrates on relieving the physical effects of stress on the body and mind. For those focused on tai chi’s martial application, good physical fitness is an important step towards effective self-defense.

Meditation: The focus and calmness cultivated by the meditative aspect of tai chi is seen as necessary in relieving stress and maintaining homeostasis.

Martial art: The ability to use tai chi as a form of self-defense in combat is the test of a student’s understanding of the art. Tai chi chuan is the study of appropriate change in response to outside forces, the study of yielding and “sticking” to an incoming attack rather than attempting to meet it with opposing force. The use of tai chi as a martial art is quite challenging and requires a great deal of training.

Modern Tai chi

Outdoor practice in Beijing
 Chinese Kungfu

With purely a health emphasis, tai chi classes have become popular in hospitals, clinics, and community and senior centers in the last twenty years and the art’s reputation as a low-stress training for seniors became better known.

Tai chi chuan in popular culture

 
 Chinese Culture

Tai chi chuan plays an important role in many martial arts and fighting action films and series, novels, as well as video games, trading cards games, etc. For example, Tai chi chuan have been featured in popular movies starring or choreographed by well-known martial arts competitors, such as Jet Li and Donnie Yen. Fictional portrayals often refer to Zhang San Feng, who is believed by these schools that Tai chi’s theories and practice was formulated by the Taoist monk in the 12th century.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

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We co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

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Qigong

Qigong or chi kung is a practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and meditation. With roots in Chinese medicine, martial arts, and philosophy, qigong is traditionally viewed as a practice to balance qi (chi) or intrinsic life energy.

 

Etymology

Chinese Kungfu

Qi (or chi) is usually translated as life energy, life force, or energy flow. It is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts. In Chinese philosophy, a person is believed to become ill or die when qi becomes diminished or unbalanced. Health is believed to be returned by rebuilding qi, eliminating qi blockages, and correcting qi imbalances.

Gong (or kung) is often translated as work or practice. The two words are combined to describe systems to cultivate and balance life energy, especially for health.

 

Training

 

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Qigong is not just a set of breathing exercises, but rather comprises a large variety of physical and mental training methods based on Chinese philosophy.

Typically a qigong practice involves rhythmic breathing, coordinated with slow stylized repetition of fluid movement, and a calm mindful state.

 

Application

 

With roots in ancient Chinese culture dating back more than 5,000 years, a wide variety of qigong forms have developed within different segments of Chinese society: in traditional Chinese medicine for preventive and curative functions, in Confucianism to promote longevity and improve moral character, in Taoism and Buddhism as part of meditative practice, and in Chinese martial arts to enhance fighting abilities.

Chinese Kungfu

Qigong is now practiced throughout China and worldwide. People practice qigong for many different reasons, including for exercise and recreation, prevention and self-healing, meditation and self-cultivation, and training for martial arts.

 

Health Benefits

 

Chinese Kungfu

As a form of gentle exercise, qigong is composed of movements that are typically repeated, strengthening and stretching the body, increasing fluid movement (blood, synovial, and lymph), enhancing balance and proprioception, and building awareness of how the body moves through space. In recent years a large number of books and videos have been published that focus primarily on qigong as exercise and associated health benefits.

As a healing art, qigong practitioners focus on prevention and self-healing traditionally viewed as balancing the body’s energy meridians and enhancing the intrinsic capacity of the body to heal. Qigong has been used extensively in China as part of traditional Chinese medicine, and is included in the curriculum of Chinese Universities. Throughout the world qigong is now recognized as a form of complementary and alternative medicine, with positive effects on diverse ailments.

Chinese Kungfu

Qigong is practiced for meditation and self-cultivation as part of various philosophical and spiritual traditions. As meditation, qigong is a means to still the mind and enter a state of consciousness that brings serenity, clarity, and bliss. Many practitioners find qigong, with its gentle focused movement, to be more accessible than seated meditation.

 

Martial arts training

 

The practice of qigong is an important component in Chinese martial arts. Focus on qi is considered to be a source of power as well as the foundation of the internal style of martial arts. Tai chi chuan, Xing yi, and Baguazhang are representative of the types of Chinese martial arts that rely on the concept of qi as the foundation. Extraordinary feats of martial arts prowess, such as the ability to withstand heavy strikes (Iron Shirt) and the ability to break hard objects (Iron Palm) are abilities attributed to qigong training.

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