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A Lecture Note, recorded in 1996, by Ginnie Chu during qigong training session in Stanford Research Institute, co-sponsored by Qigong Institute                     


Taught By: Joe H. K Chu   Recorded by: Ginnie Kit Wah Chu 


      Qigong (also written as chi kung, and more commonly known as nei gong before the term qigong became the widely used) refers to a type of training that manages the health of the mind and body. Qigong consists of two Chinese words: qi and gong. Qi, as used in the context of the phrase, qi gong, refers to both the signal that controls the functioning of the body and the actual functions of the body. However, the common everyday usage of the word 'qi' has several meanings, such as: air, breath, gas, anger, angry, to make angry, natural force, smell, spirit and mental status. The word 'gong' is the short form for 'gong fu' (kung fu), which means 'training with time and effort.' The phrase 'gong fu' translates into: 'effort, skill, and time.'  In addition, as it is widely used today, gong fu is a Cantonese slang for martial arts, a usage widely adapted and coined in America to mean Chinese Martial Arts.

        What is qigong? This seemingly simple question, when asked today amidst the plethora of self-taught qigong videos and instruction books available on the market, will solicit answers that are more often than not far from being accurate. These responses to 'What is qigong,' distorted to a great degree by the amount of mixed media coverage and publicity by self- proclaimed 'masters of the art of qigong,' fail to present qigong in its scientific context and instead, if with any accuracy at all, present qigong mainly in its spiritual or religious context. While qigong has its spiritual and religious applications, it is imperative to understand qigong from all points of view.  As we define qigong, we will also cover its applications, origins, relationship with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), medical qigong, how qigong works, and finally qigong training techniques and programs.

    After understanding what qigong is, it is important to understand what the applications of qigong are. Qigong has spiritual, religious, and health applications. Spiritual and religious applications are found in religious Taoism, Fang Shi, Buddhism, Polytheism, Shamanism (original religion of Manchuria), Bonism (original religion of Tibet), Confucianism, as well as several others. The health applications of qigong are for both mental and physical health maintenance.

  Qigong originated from several areas of study including philosophy, religion, letters, the general public, and to a limited degree martial arts.  In philosophy, qigong came from Dao Jia, which is the Daoist school of philosophy. In religion, qigong is found in Daoist necromancers as well as Buddhism. In the letters, it is found in Confucianism, which is the study of traditional scholars.  In addition, qigong is found in fang shi, which is a type of Daoist alchemy.  It would be a mistake to say qigong originated from the organized religion of Daoism.

  The relationship between qigong and traditional Chinese medicine is often misperceived as being of the same founding.  In actuality, classical medical texts, which are the primary learning tools of traditional Chinese medical practitioners, rarely mentioned qigong. Some of the more noteworthy traditional medical texts that do mention qigong are the Huang Ti Su Wen, Li Shi Zhen, and text written by Bao Pu Zi. None of the classical Chinese medical texts mentioned how to train in qigong except books written by Bao Pu Zi, who happened to be a fang shi (Daoist alchemist) and a medical scholar.  Furthermore, qigong was not traditionally part of the TCM school curriculum. Only in the last decade, starting in 1982, did traditional Chinese medical schools start to conduct research in qigong. However, Western type of medical schools in China began to study the effects of qigong on various illnesses as early as the beginning of the nineteen-sixties. These schools began the study of medical qigong, which is the application of qigong for medical purposes. 

Qigong works by affecting several systems of the body. These systems are the nervous system (including the autonomic nervous system), endocrine system, circulatory system, and immune system.  In order to apply qigong to these body systems, numerous training techniques are used, such as meditation, conscious breathing, chanting, visualization, stances, acupoint massage, movements and stretches, and qi allocations and movements. There are various qigong programs, ranging from simple to complex, that are tailored to specific individual needs.  Some programs can incorporate techniques such as simple stances, movements, chanting and stretches (calisthenics), while other programs can include a variety of simple and complicated techniques such as qi distribution, acupoint triggering and visualization (self-hypnosis).

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