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    In China Qi-gong (Pin Yin) or Chi-kung (Wade Giles) is regarded as one of their cultural treasures.  Prized for the health restorative and life extending potential, this meditative practice synchronizes physical movements to increase brain and cognitive development to achieve a state of subjective connection of the body, mind and spirit with nature.  

Some scholars believe that Chi-kung (CK) history can be sub-divided into four periods however the accuracy of this debatable.  Although Chinese medicine can be traced back to the Neolithic era (about 3500-1500 BC) by stone needle and inscribed tortoise shell artifacts, many believe the first period started at the time when the "Yi Jing" (Book of Changes) was introduced sometime before 1122 B.C., while others associated its origin to Huang Ti, the Yellow Emperor or the first emperor of China.  Some believe that the second period started with the construction of the Han dynasty (206 B.C.) when Buddhism made its way to China from India with many meditative methods. This laid the basis for Chi-kung methods to acquire religious overtones along do’s and don’ts on spiritual virtues.

The Chi-kung in the third period, the Liang dynasty (502-557 A.D.), integrated into the martial arts, especially with the contributions an Indian priest Bodhi-Daruma, or Damo, made by integrating martial arts and Chi-kung training at the now popular Shaolin Temple.  This integrative work by Damo quickly influenced and spread to many other martial art styles in China and Asia.


The fourth period started with end of the Ching dynasty in 1911; from that point medical Chi-kung evolved beyond its’ national borders and became more international and less religious and traditional. Integrative and complementary methods soon made terms such as energy healing more popular.

           Chi-kung is a compound word.  Defining Chi can be both simplistic and complex at the same time.  We can view it as energy, which is the author’s choice word, or as an intrinsic energy value of a thing so any thing may be said to have Chi and will share another compounding word describing what that thing is.  For example “Da-Chi” means air energy while “Gu-Chi” means food energy. There are easily over a hundred of such compound words.  kung associates skill, work and training into one so both words together imply that a practitioner of energy is involved.

          The Chi-kung concepts and theories share no equivalent counterpart with western health concepts and theories.  The ancient Taoist creation theory myth of the universe and its intrinsic energy called “Chi or Chi” that permeates and animates all things with values of “Yin and Yang” has similar counterpart equivalents with theoretical physics and the “Big Bang Theory” and its binary energetic properties of the four fundamental forces but without similar vocabulary.      

          Because of Chi-kung's ancient origin, many of its concepts and theory have strong shamanistic origins that are easily recognized as subjective to skeptic minds. Since the practice of Chi-kung is intended to “train” the brain, over the years it has acquired mystical and even religious aspects.   



         This is partially due to the sensations and phenomena practitioners experience during CK training, and these personal experiences have led to associated mystical or religious terminology to explain the sensations experienced.  



      There are many methods and schools of chi-kung, but similarities far outweigh differences.  Guiding the Chi with awareness along acupuncture meridians and activating various acupoints mentally while coordinating inhalation and exhalation to the adducting and abducting body movements are basic to all styles.  To think and then to move is not Chi-kung but rather to be aware and to move at the same time is Chi-kung. These self-help exercises are what many call “medical chi-kung”; however, they share almost no resemblance to western health science or sports. 

          There are three levels or steps to mastering CK and practitioners of CK regard its methods as the practice of internal alchemy by believing they can strengthen themselves enough

 to cultivate and transform “Jing” (essence or matter) into Chi (energy) and then Chi into “Shen” (mind/consciousness/spirit). 

          Basic level training (Jing-kung) is primarily more physical than the other levels and it requires the practitioner to condition their body by coordinating their mind and breath with movement.  There are three anatomical points of the body called Dan Tien which the lower point is activated and strengthened first.  The goal is to conserve and accumulate "Kidney Jing-Chi", which is regarded as the source and foundation for the other levels to build upon.  


Intermediate level training (Chi-kung) includes the basic training methods but advances to mentally visualize this intrinsic energy, Chi, and circulate it around the center back and front meridians (Du and Ren meridians) point by point, coordinating each Chi progression with slow unlabored rhythmic breathing while maintaining minimal soft tissue tension.  This level is completed when the practitioner is able to qualitatively “feel the Chi” point-to-point around the meridians and has reached a point of qualitative increased physical vitality and awareness.  Next, extremity meridians (both center and extremity meridians are part of the 8 extra meridians) are activated until enough energy is generated to "emit" the Chi through an acupoint located on the palm called Lao-kung.  This is combined with channeling an assumed "Universal Chi" from space that enters through the practitioner's head to unite with the meridian Chi at the middle Dan Tien.  This is referred to as the “emitting Chi” method and is used to restore health to oneself or others.  The mechanism of this is not understood, however many research has been done to observe this healing event.  The intended idea of the practitioner is to reduce what is over-active and increase what is under-active. Advancement to Shen-kung is the next stage and is undertaken when the practitioner achieves a consistent state of higher body and mind energy level and transcendent awareness.


 Advanced level training (Shen-kung) is all mental and does not incorporate any breathing or intended body movement to achieve its goal of healing oneself, or others.  The practitioner, while in a transcendental state of awareness and subjective connection with the universe, simply connects and nonverbally  communicates specific corrective directives to their target in someone’s body.  For example rather than using the hand to emit Chi over a sprained ankle to disperse stagnant Chi and blood, the practitioner will directly connect and communicate directives (preferred result directives or PRD), to achieve the desired effect.  The mechanism for this is not understood.






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