Saturday, January 30, 2010

Exploring Qigong

This is the first of in-depth series of entries exploring Qigong. For those of us practicing the Internal Martial Arts, Qigong serves as a foundation. However, I want to clarify what Qigong is, at least to some degree. Qigong is not Taiji. Although we often write Taiji as Tai Chi, that does not signify that Tai Chi is another form of Qigong. Taiji is translated as grand extreme. Therefore, Taijiquan is also known as grand extreme boxing, or grand extreme fist. The grand extreme of Taiji is yin and yang. Quan is translated as boxing or fist. So, Taijiquan is a martial art based on the extremes of slow and fast. The popular Yang styles of Taiji that are slow and meditative that most people are familiar with are fairly recent modifications of Taijiquan. True Taijiquan of the Chen variety, or the original Yang style of Yang Luchuan have a mix of slow meditative movements and rapid fast discharges of energy know as fajing. In its original intent the slow of Taijiquan compliments the fast, and vice versa. Taijiquan was primarily developed as a martial art. That being said, it is also a healing art and a meditative art, among many other things. But, my point here is that Tai Chi is not just another form of Qigong. It is much more. But given that, Qigong is a part of what Taiji is, and is not only a foundation for Taijiquan, but a foundation for many martial arts, and an art in and of itself.

Qigong may be the most complete natural healing art known to man. And while it may be mysterious to many, it is actually quite simple and very effective. The types and forms of Qigong range from static sitting and standing meditation to very intricate choreographed forms, and yes even Taiji when practiced with healing intention. Ironically, the simplest Qigong, standing meditation, can be the hardest, especially for beginners. But it can also be the most rewarding once one is comfortable with it. Conversely, the more complicated forms can also be very enjoyable to the more experienced practitioner, but are probably no more effective for healing than the simple movement forms. The key to Qigong is not necessarily in the complexity or simplicity of the various approaches as much as it is in the intention and deliberate practice.

While Qigong has been often presented as something mysterious, mystical, or possibly dubious, it is in reality a very practical and effective healing art grounded in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and subjected to Evidence Based Trials in the West that have proven its efficacy to the skeptical Western mind. Qigong is physical exercise, breath control, meditation, and Qi management techniques all rolled up in one system. Beyond the medical field of application, Qigong has spiritual applications or forms, practices that enhance martial training, and techniques that serve to assist the elderly and physically challenged with balance and coordination.

While Qigong is a part of a total training system for me and many others, it is a system in and of itself. There are people who only train in Qigong, who only practice Qigong, and people who daily use Qigong as a tool to heal others. It is a very broad and very deep system. And one that is worthy of serious attention and study

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