Qigong

The history of qigong, the Chinese practice of aligning breath, movement, and awareness for exercise, healing, and martial arts training, extends back more than 4,000 years. Contemporary qigong is a complex accretion of the ancient Chinese meditative practice xing qi (行氣) or "circulating qi" and the gymnastic breathing exercise tao yin (導引) or "guiding and pulling", with roots in the I Ching and occult arts; philosophical traditions of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts; along with influences of contemporary concepts of health, science, meditation, and exercise.

Archeological evidence suggests that the first forms of qigong can be linked to ancient shamanic meditative practice and gymnastic exercises.
For example, a nearly 7000-year-old Neolithic vessel depicts a priest-shaman (wu xi 巫覡) in the essential posture of meditative practice and gymnastic exercise of early qigong.
Shamanic rituals and ideas eventually evolved and formalized into Taoist beliefs and were incorporated into the field of traditional Chinese medicine.

Origins and development

According to the traditional Chinese medical community, the origin of qigong is commonly attributed to the legendary Yellow Emperor (2696–2598 BCE) and the classic Huangdi Neijing book of internal medicine.
Chinese scholars acknowledge Kǒngzǐ ("Confucius", 551–479 BCE) and Mèngzǐ ("Mencius", 385–302 BCE) as the founders of the Scholar qigong tradition. In their writings, they alluded to the concepts of qi training as methods of moral training.

In the Taoist tradition, the writings of Lǎozǐ ("Lao Tzu", ca. 400 BCE) and Zhuāngzǐ; ("Chuang Tzu", ca. 300 BCE) both describe meditative cultivation and physical exercises as means to extend one's lifespan, and to access higher realms of existence.

The Taoist inner alchemical cultivation around the Song Dynasty ( 宋朝;  Sòng Cháo] ) between 960 and 1279, continued those Taoist traditions.

The Mawangdui Silk Texts (168 BCE) shows a series of Tao Yin (導引) exercises that bears physical resemblance to some of the health exercises being practiced today.

Buddhism, originating in India and having its source in the Hindu culture, developed an extensive system of meditation and physical cultivation similar to yoga to help the practitioner achieve enlightenment, awakening one to one's true self.
When Buddhism was transmitted to China, some of those practices were assimilated and eventually modified by the indigenous culture. 
The resulting transformation was the start of the Chinese Buddhist qigong tradition.
Chinese Buddhist practice reaches a climax with the emergence of Chán (禪) Buddhism in the 7th century AD.
Meditative practice was emphasized and a series of qigong exercises known as the Yijin Jing ("Muscle/Tendon Change Classic") was attributed to Bodhidharma.

The Chinese martial arts community eventually identify this Yijing Jing as one of the secret training methods in Shaolin martial arts.

Chinese martial arts practitioners, influenced by all the different elements within Chinese society, adapted and modified qigong theory with the goal of improving their fighting abilities.
Many Chinese martial arts paid homage to Taoism or Buddhism by claiming them as their original source. For example, Tai chi chuan is often described as being Taoist in origin.
Shaolin martial arts is named after the famous Buddhist Shaolin temple.

The exchange of ideas between those different segments within Chinese society created rich, complex, and sometimes contradictory theory and methods of training.
The difficulty in determining the correct training method, the traditional master-student method of transmission, and the belief that qigong represents a special and valuable knowledge limited the research and development of qigong to small but elite elements within Chinese society.
Specialized texts were available, but were secretive and cryptic, and therefore limited to a selective few.
For the general population, qigong practice was a component of traditional Chinese medicine.
This medical system was developed based on experience, along with philosophical and folk practices.


Schools

According to some sources, the roots of qigong can be traced back to the dawn of written history, or over 5,000 years ago.
The art of qigong took cohesive shape and became recognized sometime before 2,500 BC, during the rule of the Yellow Emperor Huang Di.
Since then, numerous branches of qigong have emerged, distinguished by their goals and practice methods.
By the mid-twentieth century, most schools of qigong fell into five major branches: Confucian, Taoist, Buddhist, Medical (Healing), and Martial Arts (Boxing).

The Confucian branch is based on the ethics-centered philosophy of Confucius (551-479 BC).
Its goal is to regulate the mind, purge one’s emotions, cultivate ethical values, heighten one’s creative abilities, and seek perfection for the sake of society.
The practitioner seeks peace and tranquility. Confucian temples exist all over China.
The most important one houses Confucius’ remains. It is located in the center of Qufu in the Shandong province (picture IX). Government officials of all dynasties have carried out rituals in the philosopher’s honor there.
The Taoist branch gained prominence in the third century BC although some scholars believe that Taoism appeared about 5,000 years ago.

Dao Simbol
Yin and Yang unification

The school incorporates various ancient sects, beliefs and philosophies.
Its key concept is “Tao” (“way” or “path”), and it emphasizes living and acting naturally, without premeditation.
Concepts from indigenous ancient cultures rarely translate precisely into the language of contemporary culture.
Cultures in different historical periods have different ways of thinking, different worldviews, and modes passing on knowledge.
Because of this, a more extensive analysis is necessary to arrive at the original meaning of “Tao.”
Based on this, “Dao” delivers the following philosophical message: Each human is part of the Universe from birth. Human development takes place in accordance with universal laws. In the course of one’s life, one must change and progress with the understanding that everything in the Universe is interconnected. 
There are universal, fundamental laws governing nature and human society
.
These must become clear and obvious to all of us and people must observe them individually and as a society.
When the we accept the “Tao” into our hearts, we will achieve harmony and wholeness, like the Universe.
This will allow us to work anywhere in the Universe, at any point in time and space, fulfilling our human and universal purposes. Hence, T
Dao is the path of human development, from simply existing, to seeing and understanding the world.

The term Taoism appeared 2,000 years ago, when the philosophy of Dao merged with the philosophies of De (a good force), Yin-Yang, the spirit of Chen, and the doctrine of immortality.
Daoist practice is the art of “inner alchemy,” and it trains the body and the mind simultaneously.
The mental training includes the “Daoin mind,” a method of practice that facilitates stillness of the mind, or the qigong state.
This method equally emphasizes exercising and observing nature in an effort to integrate one’s “Ya” into the flow of Dao.
The oldest Taoist shrine is the White Cloud Temple in Beijing, also called the Temple of Lao Zi..

The Buddhist and the Taoist schools of qigong share many elements.
Buddhism is the oldest of the world religions, preceding Christianity by five centuries and Islam by twelve centuries. Its founder was Prince Siddhartha Gautama from the Sakya warrior caste, who lived in the Ganges valley twenty-five centuries ago.
He chose to abandon the comforts of his palace for the life of a wandering mendicant.
Eventually, he became known as Sakyamuni (Sage of the Sakyas) and as Buddha (Enlightened One).
He journeyed throughout the Ganges valley, teaching his philosophy, performing miracles, and “planted the seeds” of students and followers for forty years.
Buddha departed this world when he was eighty years old, an event known as “the great passage to Nirvana.
” It is believed that Buddha returned to Earth in infinite reincarnations in order to continue his mission of showing humanity how to end suffering.

The path to deliverance in Buddhism is open to anyone, regardless of social or economic status, race, or level of education.
Scholars say that its inclusiveness allowed Buddhism to become a world religion and to spread so effectively in India and to other countries.
Buddhism spread to China from India in the first century AD.
There are many Buddhist temples in China. Among the best-known are the Longmen (Dragon Gate) Caves in Henan province..
The construction of this cave monastery took over 400 years, starting at the end of the fifth century AD.
The sandstone is carved into 2,100 natural and artificial grottos, over 100,000 Buddhist statues, 2,000 high reliefs, pictures and texts, including healing instructions.
Today the shrine is a treasury of traditional Chinese medicine, a tourist center, and a pilgrimage site.

Unlike the Daoists, Buddhists perceive life as a chain of suffering and endless reincarnations in the “cycle of rebirths".
The continuous striving towards perfection is the only way to overcome one’s karma, achieve enlightenment, and experience the Buddha state.
Most phenomena are considered illusionary, and the method of education is directed at “containing the mind,” controlling the emotional state, reflecting, and opening the psyche to “absolute truth.” In terms of mental training,
Buddhism provides more structure than Daoism, such as the practice of mandala observation and visualization, as well as chanting mantras and dharanis (certain phrases and sounds).
One needs a strong and healthy body in order to open to the Universe, to unite with nature, and to acquire inner peace, tranquility, and spirituality.
Therefore, all qigong schools teach the art of self-regulation and healing. Medical (or Healing) qigong has borrowed selected elements from various other schools and from traditional Chinese medicine.
The main goal of this sub-system is self-regulation, disease prevention, healing, prolonging life, and reaching old age with a healthy body and a clear mind.

The name of the Martial Arts school purpose is to strengthen the body and the spirit so that the practitioner can defeat enemies and defend oneself.
Martial arts practice enables instant, yet composed, reactions in any situation.
Self-regulation and healing are also emphasized.
After all, a warrior must be in shape and able to recover fast.
However, in terms of healing methodology, the Martial Arts school differs significantly from the rest. It includes a few styles of Wushu-qigong.
Among them are the well-known hard qigong and the less-known soft qigong.

In general, qigong methods fall into two categories: hard and soft.
The hard methods develop the capacity to activate instantaneously the body’s functional systems at full power in order to trigger psychological and physical abilities.
It desensitizes the body to physical impact and cultivates the skill to concentrate qi in any part of the body very fast.
This explains some practitioners’ ability to break cement blocks, bricks, and wooden slabs with their heads or hands; to carry heavy weights (like a car on one’s chest, for example); or to prevent sharp objects (knives, swords, sabers, etc.) from breaking the skin.
Soft qigong promotes healing and allows the practitioner to control one’s body, to move fast for many hours without needing rest, and to climb steep mountains incredibly fast, as if flying. Messengers and warriors used to be trained in light qigong.
Soft qigong Masters can be observed walking over eggs without breaking them, or along a paper ribbon between two poles without tearing it.
It should be noted, however, that this is a somewhat simplistic distinction. In reality, the border between hard and soft qigong is not so easy to draw.

Apart from this, the exercises in all schools are divided into three types: static (sometimes called quiet, calm, or motionless), dynamic, and static-dynamic (combination of still poses and movements).
Each exercise within these categories has a specific purpose: to regulate the body, the breath, and the mind, or a combination of the three.

This classification of qigong as 5 branches was created at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The separation of schools remains somewhat superficial, though, since many of the premises and philosophical principles upon which they are based are intertwined.
For example, the term Tao is common to all qigong schools in China; the term qigong appeared only in the third or the fourth century AD, when it applied to a very few schools with a rather narrow specialization. The term acquired its broader application (describing anything related to psycho-physical training) as late as the 1960s.

When the People’s Republic of China was formed in 1949, the new government championed systematic research into the effect of qigong on people.
The investigations were halted during the “cultural revolution” and picked up again in the 1970s.
Qigong was introduced to clinics, sanatoriums, educational institutions, and even the National Academy of Science.
Today, qigong training is part of the university curriculum. It is taught by well-known qigong Masters from different schools, including some monks.

It is important to realize that life in Chinese monasteries differs fundamentally from that in Christian monasteries.
Being a monk does not necessitate spending one’s life in isolation.
People go to monasteries to perfect a skill they intend to practice in the future, such as medicine or martial arts.
Their education could take years or decades. Sometimes a monk becomes a Master in his field and returns to society to use his skills helping and training others.
He might wander for many years, finding and coaching the most talented students.
As a rule, however, training takes place in designated monastic schools. Currently, many monasteries are open to tourists and visitors.

Recently, qigong has gained the recognition of the public and the scientific and medical communities.
Many styles of qigong have merged, which is affecting the traditional classification system. A more contemporary classification places all religious schools in a separate, religious block.

The healing, preventive, and medical methods have become the focus of increased attention.
The medical-healing branch has become especially popular outside China, where numerous Masters (of various nationalities) practice and teach. International recognition and acceptance of the healing power of qigong has led to the establishment of the World Academic Society of Medical Qigong.
In the fall of 1996, Beijing hosted the Third International Conference on Medical Qigong.
The Fourth Conference was held there as well in 1998. The conferences provide a forum for theoretical and research work on the ways qigong affects brain activity and physiological processes.
Emphasis is placed on practical applications, such as healing a wide spectrum of diseases that are often considered incurable by other medical disciplines.

The new classification system still retains a separate category for “sports-oriented” qigong schools, including different styles of Wushu, Sanda (a Chinese, and other kinds of martial arts.
A new member of the qigong family is the school of Scientific qigong. This school studies the human body’s abilities and the physical changes that take place inside qigong Masters and/or their patients. It also investigates such phenomena as telekinesis and teleportation. (i.e., work with space and time).
Finally, Scientific qigong explores methods that help practitioners to acquire knowledge such as clairvoyance and telepathy.


Qigong Theory

Theory of Yin-Yang and five elements

The  five elements Qigong exercises are also known as “Qigong of the 5 Phases” or “5 Elements Harmony”.
The 5 elements (or 5 changes) are rooted in Daoist philosophy and aim to explain natural developments in the nature surrounding us as well as in human life itself.
This old Chinese thought system puts the earth in the middle and refers the remaining 4 elements onto two rectangular axes:

Vertical:
Water at the bottom (big Yin)
Fire at the top (big Yang)

Horizontal:
Wood left (small Yang)
Metal right (small Yin)

In the cycle of seasons, a phase of 73 days is attributed to each outer element: WOOD – FIRE – METAL – WATER.
After each of these 4 phases, there are 18 days of earth time, which correspond to the periods before the spring and autumnal equinoxes and the summer and winter solstices.
The earth – as planet that we live on – thus provides the link between the elements.
Using the five elements as a reference, almost every phenomenon can be understood in a new way as an expression of the five elements: the phases of life, the compass directions, the different types of food, the parts of the human body, emotions, colours, forms, therapies etc.
This provides a link of the 5 element theory to Traditional Chinese Medicine and Qigong practice.

WOOD (small Yang)

Is associated with birth and growth, new beginning, the morning, the spring and the East.
In the human body, the wooden element is connected to liver and gall bladder, eyes, muscles, sinews and finger nails.
Patience, tolerance, flexibility and creativity are signs of a positive energy flow, whereas rage, anger, jealousy and frustration point towards a blockade of the energy flow.
The movement of wood is upward.


FIRE (big Yang)

Is associated with formation and development, midday, summer and the South.
In the human body, the heart, the perikardium, the small intestine, the triple warmer, the blood vessels and the tongue are attributed to the fire element.
Mental clarity, a peace-loving temper, curiosity and enthusiasm are the positive characteristics of fire, whereas desire, confusion, excessive excitement and hysterical behaviour rate among its negative characteristics.
The movement of fire is directed outwards.


)EARTH (Middle)

Is associated with maturity, adulthood, afternoon and late summer.
In the human body, the element is connected to the spleen, the pancreas, the stomach, the connective tissue, the flesh and the mouth.
Rationality, Caring, readiness to help and concentration indicate a harmonic energy flow, whereas fanaticism, doubt and brooding are symptoms of a disharmonic energy flow.
Being centred is attributed to the element earth.


METAL (small Yin)

Is associated with post-ripening, harvest, evening, autumn and the West.
In the human body, metal is connected to the lungs, the large intestine, the skin, the body hair and the nose.
Selfless and just actions as well as generosity are the positive, grief, hopelessness, dependency and egoism are the negative properties of metal.
The movement of metal is directed inwards.


WATER (big Yin)

Is linked to the enjoyment of the harvest, old age, night, winter and the North.
In the human body, the element is associated with the kidney and the bladder, the bones, the hair and the ears.
Fearlessness, strength of will and wisdom show the harmonic energy flow, whereas fear and obsession with power hint at energy blockades.
The movement of water is directed downwards.


Qigong Program

The Qigong for Health sector of the International Longzhao Gongfu Association is a sure reference point for schools and practitioners all over the world.
Already a point of reference for many aspiring professionals of the Qigong, it is internationally recognized for its didactic rigor, based on traditional teachings, for a classical learning according to Chinese tradition.
We are also part of the TCFE (Tai Chi & Qigong Federation Europe), and the course is part of the complete training programs for the issuance of the National Teachers Certificate of Qigong UISP.
The technical program of the Qigong sector is as follows :..

1 General introduction
Definition of Qigong
The figure of the Qigong Teacher
2 Basic theories
Origin of Qigong and major schools
Ying-Yang and Five elements
Zang-Fu and meridian theory
The three treasures: Jing, Qi, Shen
Taoist Qigong theory
Buddhist Qigong theory
Confucian Qigong theory
Martial Qigong theory
3 Practical Qigong methods
站桩功
八段錦
易筋经
五禽戏
六字诀
养生坐势八段錦
導引養生功
大舞氣功
马王堆导引术
太极养生杖
放柔功
松柔功
六合功
逍遥功
天柱導引功
洗髓经
十八罗汉功
五行掌
导引保健氣功
内养功
强壮功
Zhangzhuangong
Baduanjin
Yijingjin
Wuxingqi
Liuzijue
Yang sheng zuo shi Baduanjin
Daoyin Yangsheng Gong
Da Wu Qigong
Mawangdui Daoyin Shu
Taiji Yang Sheng Zhang
Fang Song Gong
Song Rou Gong
Liuhe Gong
Xiao Yao Gong
Tian Zhu Dao Yin Gong
Xi Sui Jin
Shíbā Lóhàn Gōng
Wu Xing Zhang
Daoyin Bao Jian Qigong
Nei Yang Gong
Qiang Zhuang Gong
Exercise of the erected pole
Eight pieces of brocade
Classic of changes in tendons and muscles
Game of the Five Animals
Six secret sounds
Eight pieces of brocade sitting to nourish life
Exercises to lead the nourishment of life
Great Qigong dance
Mawangdui's art of conducting (the Qi)
Taiji stick to nurture life
Relaxation and stretching exercises
Soft and relaxed exercises
Exercises of the Six Harmonies
Free and wide exercises
Exercises to lead the Pillar of Heaven
Classic marrow wash
Exercise of the 18 Buddhas
Palms of the Five Elements
Medical Qigong for health
Qigong to nourish the interior
Qigong for strengthening
4 Clinical applications of Qigong
Features and indications of Qigong therapy
Principles and treatment of syndromes
Clinical procedures and routines of Qigong therapy

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