General Introduction

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Qigong a^so called Nei Gong (Internal Gongfu, rtifr), is a practice that has been used by the Chinese people for thousands of years—both to improve and maintain their health and to develop greater power for the martial arts. Gong (iii) means work in Chinese, and Qi ( is the energy that circulates within the body, so Qigong means the cultivation of the body's energy to increase and control its circulation.

Although it has been widely practiced for a very long time, many people are confused about Qigong, even in China, and many doubt the possibility of internal energy development, or even the existence of Qi. There are several reasons for this:

1. Until as recently as fifty years ago, most Qigong experts would only teach family members or trusted students, so Qigong knowledge was not widespread.

2. Many of the techniques were developed and cultivated by Buddhist or Daoist monks who would not spread their teachings outside their own temples.

3. Because most people were ignorant of Qigong, it was superstitiously regarded as magic.

4. Lastly, some people learned incorrect methods and experienced no effects from the training, or even injured themselves. This resulted in people either being scornful or fearful of Qigong.

You should understand that Qigong has a scientific foundation and theory. It is part of the body of Chinese medicine with a history that goes back thousands of years. The most important books describing Qi and its actions are the Qi Hua Lun (Theory ofQi Variations, which explains the relationship between Qi and nature, and the Jing Luo Lun (Theory of Qi Channels and Branches, tk which describes Qi circulation throughout the human body. ("Jing," means primary Qi channel or meridian. "Luo," & refers to the subchannels that branch out from them). A channel, or meridian, is a major connector of the internal organs with the rest of the body. These channels frequently are co-located with major nerves or arteries, but the correspondence is not complete, and it seems that they are neither nerves nor blood vessels, but simply the main routes for Qi. There are twelve main channels and two major vessels (Mai, in the body. Along these channels are found the "cavities" (Xue, k), sometimes known as acupuncture points, which can be used to stimulate the entire Qi system.

Qigong is also based upon the theory of Yin (£) and Yang which describes the relationship of complementary qualities such as soft and hard, female and male, dark and light, or slow and fast. According to Yin/Yang theory, nature strives for harmony, so that all things are neutral or balanced. Since people are part of nature, they should also strive for balance.

Included in Yin/Yang theory is the theory of the five elements or phases. The five elements are Jin (metal, & ), Mu (wood, ), Shui (water, fc ), Huo (fire, and Tu (earth, £). These elements are somewhat different from the old European elements of fire, air, water, earth. Again, because people are part of nature, they participate in and are affected by the interplay of the elements.

According to Chinese medicine, there are two ways to study health and illness. The first way is externally, called "Wai Xiang Jie Pou" ). The second is internally, called "Nei Shi Gongfu" ( ^ $L*J] k ). Wai Xiang Jie Pou is a way to understand the human body by dissection or by acting physically on the body and observing the results, as in modern laboratory experiments. In Nei Shi Gongfu the researcher learns by introspection. He observes his own body and sensations and develops medical knowledge this way.

The Western world has specialized almost exclusively in Wai Xiang and has viewed Nei Shi (¿1$.) as "unscientific," although in recent years this attitude has been changing among the general populace, if not within the medical profession.

Nei Shi Gongfu developed from observations of the correspondence between changes in nature and the way people felt, and the discovery of Qi variations. "Nature" here includes periodic cycles (Tian Shi, such as time of day, the seasons, air pressure, wind direction, and humidity. It also includes geographical features (Di Li, such as altitude, distance from the equator, and distance from large bodies of water, such as an ocean or a lake. These empirical observations led to the conclusion that Qi circulation is related to nature, and led to a search for ways for people to harmonize with natural variations.

In addition, Qi was also observed to be closely related to human affairs (Ren Shi, A?). This includes the relationship of Qi to sound, emotion, and food. Because Qi flow is controlled by the brain, agitation of the brain by emotion will affect Qi circulation. The sounds people made in various situations were also observed. For example, in cold weather the sound "Si" (sit) is used in combination with breathing deeply and keeping the limbs close to the body to help keep warm. The pain from cuts can be relieved by making the sound "Xu" (■£) and blowing air into the cut. The "Xu" sound helps to stop the bleeding and calm the liver, and the relaxation of this organ in turn relieves the pain. The sound "Hei" (!?)is used to increase a person's working strength. The sound "Ha" ("S") will help to relieve fevers the same way a dog's panting helps it to bear the heat. From all these observations it was concluded that different sounds can relieve the pressure or strain on different organs, and since inner organs were related to the channels, the Qi circulation was affected as well.

The relationship of Qi and food is illustrated by the fact that drinking too much alcohol or eating too much deep fried food will strain the liver and thus affect the Qi circulation in the liver channel.

After a long period of observation people began to understand that Qi circulation affected their health, and they began to investigate ways to improve this circulation. Methods were found and forms were created that proved effective, and this was the beginning of Qigong.

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