Internal Martial Arts (Q&A)
According to Chinese medicine, the body contains jing (essence, or internal energy), qi (intrinsic energy), and shen (spirit).—Robert, USA
To be exact, the statement should read as follows. According to Chinese medicine every person is made up of jing, qi and shen. Jing is the physical body. Qi is the energy that keeps the body functioning. Shen is the spirit, soul, mind or consciousness. The body is alive because of qi and shen.
Western medicine would benefit tremendously from this Chinese wisdom. From the perspective of Chinese medicine, chronic, degenerative diseases like asthma, diabetes, heart failure and kidney problems are disorders of qi, whereas psychiatric diseases are disorders of shen. But qi and shen are not in the conceptual framework of Western medicine. Western medicine only treats the physical body. Hence, Western treatment for chronic, degenerative diseases and psychiatric diseases has not been satisfactory.
What should one’s qigong training environment be like?
Open air with a lot of trees, preferably with a waterfall behind and a rippling stream in front.
I started doing Yang style Taijiquan for about 6 months until I met a friend who taught me a qigong style. I practice qigong everyday, but there are times when I feel like I’d rather do Taiji exercises. —Sid, USA
Qigong is the art of cultivating energy. There are two main dimensions in energy cultivation, namely circulating energy which is called “xing qi” in Chinese, and accumulating energy which is called “yang qi”.
There are many different ways to cultivate energy. Practicing dynamic patterns like “Lifting the Sky” and “Carrying the Moon” is one way. Practicing exercises like Small Universe and Dan Tian Breathing is another way. All these are different methods or styles of qigong, and all of them involve circulating energy and accumulating energy.
When one practices Taijiquan correctly, he also circulates energy and accumulates energy. Therefore, taijiquan is also qigong.
Within Taijiquan itself, there are patterns like “Wild Horse Spreads Mane” and “Single Whip”, and training methods like “Three-Circle Stance” and “Pushing Hands”. Each one of these patterns or methods, when practiced correctly, can be used to circulate energy and accumulate energy. Hence, all these patterns and methods are also qigong exercises.
However, as words are usually used provisionally, most people differentiate between Taijiquan and qigong. When they say “Taijiquan”, they usually refer to a performance of Taiji patterns. When they say “qigong”, they usually refer to specific qigong exercises like “Lifting the Sky” and “Abdominal Breathing”, or to qigong styles like Soaring Crane Qigong and Yan Xin Qigong.
Whether you should practice the style of qigong your friend taught you or practice Taiji exercises depends on a few factors, such as your needs and aspirations, the benefits these different practices will give you, as well as your whims and fancies. If you do not have any specific objectives for your training but merely practice for fun, then you can choose whatever exercises you feel like doing.
I love to understand the truth of qi. Is this a physical energy like other energy types, or something mental and spiritual?
Qi, or energy, is physical as well as mental and spiritual. Scientists have discovered that qi consists of electro-magnetic waves, subsonic waves as well as flows of sub-atomic particles.
Qi is also mental. It consists of flows of conscious impulses. A very high level qigong master can transmit his qi to influence the behavior of others– although for moral reasons he would not do so.
Qi is also spiritual. At low levels qi can uplift a person’s spirit, making him cheerful and hopeful. At high levels, it enables a person to have cosmic experiences. At the highest level, it unites a person’s spirit with the Universal Spirit, called God, Dao, the Buddha or other names by different peoples.
These explanations are just empty words to the uninitiated. They may know the meaning of all the words in the explanations, but still do not really know what the explanations mean. It is like someone who has not eaten a durian (which is a popular fruit in Southeast Asia). He may read all the explanations on the taste of a durian, but still will not know how a durian tastes.
The best way for you to understand the truth of qi is to learn qigong from a genuine master. If you attend my Intensive Qigong Course, you will experience qi and its many benefits the very first day of your training.
Sifu Wong Kiew Kit, a Grandmaster of Shaolin Wahnam Chi Kung and Kungfu, teaches throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Website: http://www.shaolin.org
© Qi Journal (Summer 2005)
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