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Chi Gong/Qi Gong

What is chi gong (qi gong)? Chigong is a set of practices that uses air to transform chi energy and synchronize the chi movements to achieve power, strength, health, wellness and enlightenments. For this, chigong is named "the work of air".

Chigong is all about breathing. Furthermore, it does more than just breathing. Chigong (qigong, chi kung) involves a series of standing, sitting, moving or lying down practices in coordination with specific way of breathing (chi breathing). How breathing is carried out dictates if the physical practices can transform chi energy. Transformative chi breathing takes air into the lungs, and the digestive tracts, then the stagnate chi in the digestive tracks and lungs get to breath out. More advance chi breathing involves holding the breath to give different parts of the body more time to exchange out stagnate chi, sometime even using hitting to push fresh chi further into the body. At even more advanced level, one develops the ability to tap into the Chi Universal Energy externally to move chi at will. All accomplished without meditation.

There are two categories of physical involvements in chigong practices, moving and stationary. The practice of moving chigong sets up the foundation for stationary chigong. Moving chigong gains access to different parts of the body to enhance the oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange and fresh chi/stagnate chi exchange (one type of chi movements). The moving chigong maintains and improves mobilities and flexibilities of the body and chi. Stationary chigong builds strength of chi and connection with chi. The stationary chigong is not a mental practice that imagines or visualizes chi movements; therefore, it's not any forms of meditation. It's a practice of recognizing and feeling "true physical sensations". The feeling of true physical sensation in coordination with chi breathing trains body/mind connects, so chi can be held in the body or move to the body parts that we are feeling. The connections occur naturally without imagining or visualizing.

There is a tremendous emotion component in chigong practice. Emotion energy is a major part of the energy in the air and the quality of the emotion in the air depends on the environments, just like the physical quality of the air. To gain "cleaner" air, some chigong practitioners emphasize practicing chigong in nature. This is one approach to control what to bring in to the body. Most time, we don't have the choice on the location of chigong practice and the quality of the air. Inhaling air disregarding its quality trains our bodies not to be afraid of environments. This is the great and mostly overlooked power of chigong practice: overcoming the fear towards environments, which is also a key principle of chigong practice!

The most common stagnate chi in the body are fear and panic. This arises from the inherited design of living beings, holding on to fear and panic for protection. Without intervention, they keep building up in us, eventually breaking us down. Yes, in some situations, there are lots of fear and panic in the air. Will practice chigong in this type of environment hurt us? One thing to keep in mind is that no matter how thick the fear and panic in the air, they are never more than what's built up in our body.

Chigong practice also make us face whatever emotions and physical manifestations stuck in us. As the stagnate chi gets pushed out from practicing chigong, we experience them. If we do not know what is happening and how to work with what's being pushed out, it triggers fear and panic. One essential approach for this is having a constructive emotion disposition (often time happiness, joy, love) during chigong practice. It is not a practice of replacing emotions or sensations, because whatever emotions and sensations come up are not replaceable. What feeling the emotion of our choice does it to help us practicing how to navigate among emotions and not automatically immerse ourselves in whatever shows up, emotions or sensations. There are people chose anger or their automatic disposition is anger. For it makes them feel powerful or it is the few emotions that are accessible to them. Then, they are not ready to practice chigong. Successful chigong practice requires close supervisions.

Chigong is a way to improve one's health and wellness. There are many different kinds of chigong out there, but we only teach the chigong that saved Craig's life and helped him break away $10,000/year medication cost. That was his pill bill in 1979. In 2012, the cost of CF treatments was $600,000.00/year. So one can only imagine what they would be in 2022. The chigong Craig practices takes less than five minutes to learn one of the movements, and requires at least five chi breaths a day to help mental, emotion and physical wellness. Naturally, the more you practice, the faster and stronger the chi will become. When Craig learned chigong, he practiced two hours a day, seven days a week. Practice the same thing over and over appears boring, but it is powerful. This chigong practice requires regular supervisions, because it is so powerfully transformative.

Chi, Chigong, Chi healing, Health

Chi, Human and Health

Chi is the quantum of the existence of the universe. Chi movement is the quantum of life. All aspects of an individual work together in an orchestrated manner to sustain the individual's life, therefore, the on going movements of chi. The state of chi movements reveals the conditions of where the individual is at.

Chi movement dictates the vitality of the individual. Chi is strongest when it's moving. It gets weakened when it gets stuck. Life is gone when chi moves no more. For this reason, physical movements help our health. Lack of physical activities lead to health issues. Emotions and thoughts are strong components of our chi movements. They influence how the body operates from the level of cellular molecules to the level of behaviors.

The collective of chi energy of our body gives the distinctive energy signature of an individual. Emotions and thoughts wove into human physical body as a part of human identity. We know that a human body starts with two fused cells. The two multiply to form new cells, which build into organs, systems, eventually a human being. This is how our physical bodies come about. How about our emotions and thoughts, where do they come from? Yes, emotions and thoughts are registered in a network of interconnected structures in the brain. They are not just collections of neural activities. They are energy, they are chi energy. Our experiences of them are chi phenomena.

Unattended trauma, either physical, emotional, mental or spiritual (especially emotional), lead to energy build ups, which interrupt the movements of chi. The lack of chi movements develop into ailments, even eventually death. The nature of chi movements also matters. The forward chi movements facilitates the coordination and the cooperation of events to sustain life and promote wellness. The backward chi movement leads to dis-coordination and dis-cooperation. Life goes on in this manner, but not well. Suppressing feelings and thoughts are major contributors of backward chi movements. One cannot be the best version of oneself when the primary chi movement of an individual is backwards.

Chi (Qi), Chi Movements and Health

A variety of techniques were developed in traditional Chinese medicine to treat illness by adjusting the Chi movements in the body. Acupuncture, Tui na, Cupping and Moxibustion use external stimuli to access acupuncture points (also called acupoints) along the meridians in an effort to clear blockages. Herbs are used to restore the balance of different Chi energy in the body. All these practices are to strengthen the Chi movements, which in turn also increases one’s health. Many famous Chinese physicians throughout history, for example Hua Tuo (141-208 AD), Li Shizhen (1518-1593 AD), were also Chigong practitioners.

Chi (Qi) and Chigong (Qigong or Chi Kung)

The History

Some scholars estimate that the concept of Chi might be 5000–7000 years old. Tracing the exact historical development of Chi and Chigong is difficult, because the concept of Chi probably existed many years before written language had developed. The earliest evidence of Chigong practice comes from the discovery of color pottery of the Majiayao culture of the Neolithic period found in 1975 in Northwest China’s, Qinghai Province, Ledu County Liuwan. A painted water vessel pottery pot (height 34 cm), estimated to be at least 5000 years old, was found decorated with a human portrait (see figure) posed in a posture that is identical to a posture of Chigong practice called standing post (see picture). The Chigong historian Li Zhi-yong contends that this figure represented the earliest Chigong masters, which was further corroborated by anthropologist K. C. Chang (Chang, K.C. 1999).

The earliest form of Chinese writing, known as oracle bone inscriptions (or Jia Gu Wen in Chinese Pinyin), was accomplished by carving ancient Chinese characters onto tortoise shells and animal scapulas. The oracle bone inscriptions were mainly used for divination and keeping records of events that happened during the Shang Dynasty (1766-1122 B.C.). The graphic character of Chi
was found on an oracle bone inscription, and was also discovered on bronze inscriptions of the Shang and Zhou Dynasties (1122 to 221 B.C.). The character is a pictogram (depicting the shape) symbolizing the flow of air.

By the Warring States Period of the late Zhou Dynasty (481-221 B.C.), the evidence proving the existence of the concept of Chi was quite abundant. In particular, the practice of Chi had been described in the inscription of the jade artifact “Xing Qi Ming
(see picture). It is the earliest found written evidence of Chigong. Based on the inscription, it is clear evidence showing that the concept Chi and the practice of Chigong were well established at that time.

The translation of the
inscription is as follows: “To regulate chi: When it is in depth, it will accumulate (store, collect); when it accumulates, it will spread; when it spreads, it will move downward; when it moves downward, it will settle; when it settles it will be firm; when it becomes firm, it will sprout; when it sprouts, it will grow; when it grows, it will regress; when it regresses, it will become nature (heaven, sky); heaven (sky) has roots (pounds into the ground) above; earth (ground) has its root (pounds into the ground) below; smooth flow enables life; reverse flow leads to death.”

Two other important findings discovered from the Han dynasty also demonstrate the practice of Chigong in China more than 2000 years ago. An artifact known as the Zhangjiashan Hanjian Yinshu (Literally translated as “The Han Bamboo Strip Book Yinshu”), which dates back to 186 B.C., was unearthed in Hupei Provonce Jiangling Xian Zhangjiashan in 1984. According to the studies of Peng Hao and Li Ling, Hanjian Yinshu is a detailed manuscript that includes therapeutic and illness-preventive techniques as well as movements that emphasize breathing methods as a way to attain health and longevity (Li, 2001).

The other archaeological testimony, “The Silk Book on Chigong Practices” or Daoyin tu, was unearthed from a Han Dynasty tomb (168 B. C.) in 1973 in Hunan Province, Changsha. The Daoyin tu is a color manuscript that shows forty four movements in a series of sketches accompanied by commentaries on their therapeutic features. According to Li Ling, there are two identifiable categories of sketches. The first group is the “Animal Plays,” which is divide into eight types of animal-bird movements such as bear-hanging and bird-stretching as described by Zhuangzi. The second group is the cure for illness and disease that includes eighteen ways to treat deafness, hernia, anxiety, knee pains, neck problems, abdominal bloating, sciatica, fever, and pneumonia. (Li, 2001)

The term “Chigong” (Qigong, Chi Kung, Qi gong or Chi gong) is made up of two Chinese characters, “Chi” (air) and “Gong” (accomplishment or skill that is cultivated through steady practice). Together, Chigong means cultivating energy or work through breathing. The concept of Chi and Chigong practice of utilizing breathing to strengthen health has evolved throughout Chinese history and different aspects of Chigong practice have been mentioned in the literature: tu-na (exhaling and inhaling), dao-yin (guiding the energy flow), xing-chi (promoting the circulation of chi), fu-chi (intake of chi), shi-chi (feeding chi), lian-chi (practice chi), tiao-chi (regulating chi), jing-zuo (sitting quietly), zuo-chan (meditation), zuo-chan (sitting meditation), nei-gong (internal gong), zuo-wang (sitting undisturbed), yang-shen (nourishing the spirit) and shou-shen (guarding the spirit). The commonality of all these aspects is the regulation of breathing to reach good health and a higher spirituality. The term “Chigong” summarizes the essence of all these practices, and first appeared in the Chinese literature in “Records of the Jingming ‘Clear Brightness’ Sect”, a book written by Daoist priest Xu Xun (239-374 A.D.) during the Jin dynasty (265-420 A.D.), where Chigong was mentioned in the chapter “Elucidation on Chigong”.

In the early 20th century, Chigong was the topic of several books. The term “Chigong” appeared in two Wushu training books, “Secrets of Shaolin practice” published in 1915 by Zhonghua Book Company and “Collections of Wushu Practices”, now a classic martial arts text, written by the famous kung fu master Wan Lai-shen published in 1929 by Commercial Press Ltd. In the book written by Zhang Qing-lin “The Secrets of Regulating and Practicing Chi” published in 1929, it mentions about taiji tai chi) founder Zhang San-feng’s emphasis on the practice of Chigong, cites the lyrics (rhymes) used in Chigong practice and also credits Zhang as the originator of dian xue (Dim Mak), a method of training used to strike acupuncture points to interfere with proper Chi flow. Famous Chinese general and outstanding kung fu practitioner, Zhang Xue-liang, wrote a brief description of the importance of Chigong in the book’s preface.

In the 1930’s, Chigong had become a treatment method used in some hospitals. The health aspects of Chigong became the emphasis of two books, “Chigong Treatment Method for Tuberculosis (TB)“ by Dong Hao, published in 1934 by the Xiang Lin hospital in Hangzhou, and “Records of Chigong Treatment Methods” published in 1938 by the Gong Bo Chigong Treatment Institute in Shanghai.

The clinical results of Chigong in Hebei Province in the 1950’s led to the official use of the term “Chigong” in the study reports. Liu Gui-zhen summarized his clinical experience of Chigong treatment in his “Chigong Treatment Experimentation”. The term “Chigong” became widely used after the publication of this book in 1957.

The sporadic appearance of the term “Chigong” in classical literature does not reflect the popularity of the term in common language. Chigong has not only been a common term in the spoken language, it has also been often used in the kung fu novels and marital arts films.


Chang, K.C. 1999. Collected Treatises on Chinese Archaeology, Zhongguo kaoguxue lunwenji. Beijing: Shenghuo Dushu Xinzhi Press.

Gao, Ming. 1996. Commentaries on the Silk Scroll Book of Laozi, Boshu Laozi Xiaozhu. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju.

Guo, Qing-pan. 1997. An Elucidation on Zhuangzi, Zhuangzi Jishi. Beijing: Zhonghua Shuju.

Li Ling. 2001. A Study on Chinese Occult Arts, Zhongguo fangshu kao. Beijing: Eastern Press.

Peng, Hao. 1990. “A Primary Study on the Han Bamboo Strip Gymnastic Book from the Han Bamboo Strips of Zhangjiashan,” in Wenwu: 10. Beijing.

Summarized Results of Scientific Studies on Chigong Exercise

Biophysical Measures

·Generate magnetic field (Japan)

·Balance electrodermal measurements (USA)

Physiological Effects

·Influence brain wave (China) (Austria)

·Change the blood flow of the brain (Austria)

·Reduce level of stress hormones, increase pain suppression neurotransmitter, and balance growth hormone and testosterone (Korea)

·Influence the immune cells towards anti-inflammation response in favor of a rapid resolution of inflammation (Hong Kong) (USA) (Spain), and increase the resistance against common infection and inflammation (Korea). Tai Chi and Qigong practice improve the antibody response to influenza vaccine (USA)

·Improve organ functions: Reduce the level of liver disease markers and renal disease marker (Spain)

·Improve functional capacities (exercise) of patients with heart problems (Italy)

·Improve respiratory function by increasing oxygen, reducing carbon dioxide in the blood (Korea) and increasing efficiency in gas exchange (USA)

·Improve the health of asthma patients (Germany)

·Stabilize heart function (Korea)

·Reduce pain (Sweden) (USA)

·Improve motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease (Germany)

·Tai Chi and Qigong improve body mass index, waist circumference, and glucose control measures (Australia)

·Improve global quality of life, and reduce side effects of cancer treatments and inflammation biomarkers (Australia), but it does not provide cure for cancer (Review UK)

·Tai Chi and Qigong reduce blood pressure, stress hormones, cholesterol and symptom score of heart failure just as good as conventional exercise (Korea) (Taiwan) (UK) (China) (Hong Kong)

·Qigong exercise reduce stress at computerised work (Sweden) and hospital staffs (USA)

Psychological Measures

·Alleviate clinical depression (Hong Kong)

·Improve Vitality, Sleep, Social Activity, Health Distress, Mental Health and Psychological Well-being of females of Chronic Fatigue syndrome (UK)
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