Qi or "chi" in general means energy or life force** and "gong" refers to any skill which is highly developed through dedicated practice. Qigong is a method of building, balancing, and refining your energy and awareness. There are thousands of forms of Qigong which may focus on health, martial power, inner alchemy, spirituality and ethical development or can be a synthesis of these. Qigong often includes still meditation and self-massage/acupressure as well.
Qigong exercises are generally performed with relaxation and focus. In some instances, tension is consciously used for a specific purpose. These meditative movements gently stretch and open the body and meridian system to promote a balanced flow of qi. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, qi and blood are said to be inextricably connected. Scientific studies in China have shown that Qigong can catalyze increased blood flow right down to the capillary level. Practitioners know that consistent Qigong practice can build harmonious energy and a deep sense of centeredness.
Qigong Resources and Videos
Qigong warm up and 8 pieces of the Brocade Qigong:
(the knee exercises require supervision to perform properly and may be contraindicated for some).
A quick and simple style of Qigong:
More on Qigong self-healing-one approach:
Another version of 8 pieces of the Brocade:
Spring is Liver Season in TCM which says it is a very good time to stretch. Remember
to listen to your own body and explore your range sensitively using the 70 percent rule.
Recommended Books on Qigong:
Heal Yourself with Qigong: Gentle Practices to Increase Energy, Restore Health, and Relax the Mind by Suzanne Friedman LaC
Restoring Your Life Energy by Waysun Liao
The Master Key by Robert Peng
Meridian Massage by Cindy Black M
Qi Magazine free download:
Comprehensive site about Traditional Chinese Medicine:
Acupressure points: Locations, uses and charts, http://www.yinyanghouse.com/
What is Yiquan?
Yiquan is a powerful martial art which uses standing meditation for its foundation. These practices were found to rapidly build total well being, proper structure and internal power. Our classes feature these standing meditations for well-being, known as "Zhan Zhuang" or "post standing", along with slow motion drills or "shili" and stepping methods. A primary aim is the expansion and realization of Awareness creating the integration of body and mind with deeper levels of intention. These skills can be used in martial arts or other life pursuits. Yiquan can reveal how to be natural in an unatural world, how to stop fighting yourself on all levels and how to liberate your intrinsic power and talent. As a martial art, Yiquan training requires great perserverance, deep understanding and careful step by step cultivation of mind, body and spirit.
“Yi” (pronounced “ee”), refers to the concentration of mind and intention but in Yiquan it refers to a deeper level of "intention". “Quan” (pronounced “chwen”), means fist or force in martial arts. Yiquan is a profound and unique art because of its focus on mind, intention and Zen like “emptiness” awareness combined with detailed physical training. Wang Xiangzhai created Yiquan and quickly estabilished it as a formitable martial art. Later in life, he turned his attention to the use of Yiquan for health and conducted systematic research on Yiquan’s application for a variety of ailments with great success.This aspect of Yiquan, known as Zhan Zhuang, soon gained widespread use as a form of medical Qigong. Numerous scientific studies in China attest to its amazing health building abilities without creating any negative side effects. This research contributed to the widespread acceptance and practice of Qigong in China.
English translation of Wang Xiangzhai's "The Correct Path of Yiquan"
Short Yiquan overview-with English subtitles
Yiquan "Zhan Zhuang" program by Master Lam
Master Yao Zongxun demonstrates Yiquan and Zhan Zhuang in the videos below:
Yiquan's Jianwu or "Health Dance" by Yao Zongxun:
Mr. Bao Yong Gang trained as an indoor student with Yao Zongxun from 1958 until Master Yao’s passing in 1985. Master Bao is a third generation Yiquan practitioner who has a profound understanding of Yiquan.
Dr. James Kan has been an indoor student of Master Bao for 20 years. Gary began studying with Dr. Kan in 2005 and continues to this day. He has authorized Gary McCabe to teach Yiquan for Health (Zhan Zhuang). Dr. Kan and his wife, Dr. Teng are also amazing Doctors of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncturists. To learn more about them, please visit:
Dr. Kan demonstrating Yiquan Shili http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4dg1xEjHYI
Yiquan: Health, Martial Arts and Beyond
by Gary McCabe
A variety of dynamic standing postures are the foundation of Yiquan. The health oriented aspect of Yiquan is also known as Zhan Zhuang, which is translated as “standing posts” , "pile standing" or "standing like a tree". Standing like a tree reflects the very alive nature of this practice. These unique postures heal, realign and strengthen body and mind. Yiquan requires precise physical alignment and deep mind-body relaxation as a vehicle for training intention, visualization, energy and feeling to develop an integrated ability. Standing properly is like putting an energy deposit in your bank of well being. Once your health and mind-body-spirit development is adequate, you have the foundation for the martial dimension in Yiquan.
Yiquan has been extensively used for rehabilitation in China since the 1950’s and has been shown to accelerate recovery from a wide array of ailments. Scientific studies in China have demonstrated that circulation in the capillaries and oxygen uptake is improved significantly.
Yiquan is an excellent form of stress reduction which improves overall well being. A dynamic form of standing meditation, holding stationary postures is a mild form of stress which increases circulation without straining the heart. Training to relax in the midst of that challenge centers and focuses the mind while transforming the experience of your body and mind in a "grounded" way.
Originally, Yiquan was developed to rapidly build martial arts power and skill. Its creator, the martial arts legend, Wang Xiangzhai, created innovative methods of actualizing the limitless power of the mind. His ability to discern subtle nuances of the mind's effect on the body resulted in a radical new approach; distilling the essence of martial arts and discarding all superfluous elements, including forms. His realization was not just a scholarly dissertation but honed from a lifetime of challenges and exchanges with accomplished martial arts Masters in the crucible of real combat. Master Wang's level of ability and character resulted in being able to defeat others without hurting them. As a result, many of his challengers became students.
Wang Xiangzhai , like some “Renaissance men” of the west, cultivated an interdisciplinary range of knowledge and interaction. He conferred with leading artists, poets, engineers, and other outstanding thinkers of his time. Master Wang never stopped researching Yiquan or learning from his experiences, which was reflected in the evolution of Yiquan during his life. He lived during "interesting times" and witnessed many upheavals in society. Wang Xiangzhai ultimately discovered underlying principles of the human condition and changed the way he taught Yiquan in his later years.
Yiquan has the essence of diverse elements of traditional Chinese culture within it including the philosophy of Zen Buddhism (Emptiness), Taoism (being natural) and Confucianism (being ethical ), without any "isms".
If you are fortunate to have a wise teacher, Yiquan can take you beyond the martial arts to a life of freedom. Like Zen, Dzogchen and Advaita Vedanta, it can help you realize your true nature and actualize dormant potential. You can discover that the physical body is like the tip of an enormous iceberg. Learning what each layer of the iceberg is and how to make it function is part of the training process. Layers of tension melt in both your body and mind with dedicated practice. You feel entirely different, alive in a new way. Circulation increases. Everything is better. You stop blocking your natural power and abilities. Perhaps it can be seen as incarnating more of your spiritual dimension into your body and life, merging the insubstantial with substantial. You may notice that Awareness always is. This natural, inherent Awareness requires absolutely no effort on your part. When you recognize, open up to it and feel into it, you may understand that you are Free right now. The expression of that freedom is the joy of living. More of you is fully "present" and you can learn to have a sense of "being" while "doing".
Since Yiquan can unleash extraordinary power, the cultivation of ethics is required for personal balance and relational harmony. This is not just because some ancient way dictates it, but is part of the science of living. “Don’t injure yourself and don’t injure others” is one of the core guidelines in Yiquan. The ethical application of this guideline is pervasive and requires the recognition of one’s deeper motives. It is not easy to tame the "martial arts ego" especially in the heat of combative exchanges. Yiquan's philosophy is that there is no number 1, if you win you may be wrong and if you lose you are wrong, but seek to understand and learn. Be happy for the opportunity.
Those who desperately grasp for power may be destroyed by it like someone holding on to a surfboard in the pounding surf. Yiquan says that true power is inherent and realized by those who know how to let go and open to life with awareness. It is only available to those who know how to be humble, which is one of the paradoxes of internal power. Humble does not mean weak but includes the traditional wisdom, “open your heart/ open your mind”. Practicing "Buddha heart" calms the mind and can allow your body to function more naturally. It allows you to appreciate your life and that of others. Humility is feeling and knowing that you are not above or below anyone or anything life brings ; you are equal. A related traditional idea is, " empty your cup, but also lower it!" If you are holding an empty cup above your head, no one can fill it. It's saying," look everyone, I have an empty cup". The reality of Emptiness- with no projection, expectations or judgement- seems to grow out of your natural state.
The art of letting go yet paying attention is another subtle element which is often overlooked. This fine line is developed in the stillness of practice. Can we discern when and where to cooperate or what degree and kind of control is appropriate? All this takes time, self-study and honest practice. Discovery, exploration and experimentation keeps the practice (and life) alive and rewarding. Applying the fruits of practice in drills, (shili, push hands etc.), is a reality check and feedback mechanism. This interaction can be fun and interesting on many levels. It leads to endless expansion.
Master Yao Zongxun
was Wang Xiangzhai's formal successor and
Mr. Bao Yong Gang's teacher.
Mr. Bao Yong Gang's teacher.
Tai Chi Chuan or Taijquan?
Chi Kung or Qigong?
Chi or Qi?
Hsing-I Chuan or Xingyiquan?
These are the same words but are spelled differently because initially Chinese words where romanized according to the Wades-Giles system. In the 1980's the transliteration was switched to the Pinyin system. Today you may see a combination which may vary from author to author. Hence, the confusion.
What is Taijiquan? "Taiji" refers to the duality of the universe depicted by the famous symbol of yin and yang. That symbol is called the Taiji symbol. It's half black with a white dot and half white with a black dot. It symbolizes a dynamic state of interdependence, transformation, and balance. Taiji refers to the primal condition of the universe after it split into two from the primordial Oneness. It is often translated as the "grand ultimate or grand terminus". "Quan" refers to fist or force and martial arts. Taijiquan was originally known as Cotton fist.One story is that the originator of Yang style Taijiquan, Yang Lu Chan, was an unbeaten pugilist who employed the principles of yin and yang. His embodiment of Taiji philosophy in his art gave rise to the name, Taijiquan.
The vast majority of people who practice Taijiquan today do not use it as a martial art. Most practice it as a flowing set of mindful movements which reduce stress, increase well-being and balance.It has a long list of scientifically verified benefits including, increasing grey matter in the brain, helping with diabetes, improving bone density, reducing blood pressure and more..
To study the martial aspects of Taijiquan is becoming a little more popular in America than it once was.To actually
use it effectively in real martial arts contests is rare and would require very intensive mental, physical and energy training for years.
Taijiquan is a masterpiece. Woven within it is Qigong, the physics of effortless movement, a through and gentle exercise system, Meditation, Inner Alchemy and the study of Yin and Yang within oneself as well as with others.
It is deeply influenced by Taoist philosophy, i.e. the philosophy of being natural and harmonizing with Nature.
What is Qigong or Chi Kung? Qi or "chi" basically means energy or life force** and "gong" refers to any skill which is highly developed through dedicated practice. Qigong is a method of building, balancing, and refining your energy and awareness. There are thousands of forms of Qigong which may focus on health, martial power, inner alchemy, spirituality and ethical development or can be a synthesis of these. Qigong often includes still meditation and self-massage/acupressure as well.
Qigong movements are done mindfully with different focuses depending on the goal. Generally, there is regulation of breathing,mind,movement and posture with deeper alignments of energetic structures (dantein's, meridians, energy gates) all done in an integrated fashion.
Most Qigong sets are separate movements which are easy to learn. Taijiquan, in contrast, is a series of linked movements which some find more challenging. There are also some Qigong forms, like Wild Goose Qigong, which have a long series of linked movements.
** Qi meaning life force is very simplistic and limited. To begin a deeper understanding of "Qi", please read this: http://jaybulloch.com/articles/what-is-qi/ and start practicing Qigong or Taijiquan.
Understanding the philosophy of Yin and Yang