Because many Han emperors were intelligent and wise, the Han dynasty was a glorious and peaceful period. It was during the Eastern Han dynasty (c. 58 A.D.) that Buddhism was imported to China from India. The Han emperor became a sincere Buddhist, and Buddhism soon spread and became very popular. Many Buddhist meditation and Chi Kung practices, which had been used in India for thousands of years, were absorbed into the Chinese culture. The Buddhist temples taught many Chi Kung practices, especially the still meditation of Charn (Zen), which marked a new era of Chinese Chi Kung. Much of the deeper Chi Kung theory and practices which had been developed in India were brought to China. Unfortunately, since the training was directed at attaining Buddhahood, the training practices and theory were recorded in the Buddhist bibles and kept secret. For hundreds of years the religious Chi Kung training was never taught to laymen. Only in this century has it been available to the general populace.
Not long after Buddhism was imported into China, a Taoist by the name of Chang Tao-Ling combined the traditional Taoist principles with Buddhism and created a religion called Tao Jiaw. Many of the meditation methods were a combination of the principles and training methods of both sources.
Since Tibet had its own branch of Buddhism with its own training system and methods of attaining Buddhahood, Tibetan Buddhists were also invited to China to preach. In time, their practices were also absorbed.
It was in this period that the traditional Chinese Chi Kung practitioners finally had a chance to compare their arts with the religious Chi Kung practices imported mainly from India. While the scholarly and medical Chi Kung had been concerned with maintaining and improving health, the newly imported religious Chi Kung was concerned with far more. Contemporary documents and Chi Kung styles show clearly that the religious practitioners trained their Chi to a much deeper level, working with many internal functions of the body, and strove to have control of their bodies, minds, and spirits with the goal of escaping from the cycle of reincarnation.
While the Chi Kung practices and meditations were being passed down secretly within the monasteries, traditional scholars and physicians continued their Chi Kung research. During the Gin dynasty in the 3rd century A.D., a famous physician named Hwa Tor used acupuncture for anesthesia in surgery. The Taoist Jiun Chiam used the movements of animals to create the Wuu Chyn Shih (Five Animal Sports), which taught people how to increase their Chi circulation through specific movements. Also, in this period a physician named Ger Horng mentioned using the mind to lead and increase Chi in his book Baw Poh Tzyy. Sometime in the period of 420 to 581 A.D. Taur Horng-Jiing compiled the "Yeang Shenn Yan Ming Luh"
Records of Nourishing the Body and Extending Life), which showed many Chi Kung techniques.
From the Liang Dynasty to the End of the Ching Dynasty (502-1911 A.D.)
During the Liang dynasty (502-557 A.D.) the emperor invited a Buddhist monk named Da Mo, who was once an Indian prince, to preach Buddhism in China. When the emperor decided he did not like Da Mo's Buddhist theory, the monk withdrew to the Shaolin Temple. When Da Mo arrived, he saw that the priests were weak and sickly, so he shut himself away to ponder the problem. He emerged after nine years of seclusion and wrote two classics: "Yi Gin Ching" (Muscle/-Tendon Changing Classic) and "Shii Soei Ching" (Marrow/Brain Washing Classic). The Muscle/Tendon Changing Classic taught the priests how to gain health and change their physical bodies from weak to strong. The Marrow/Brain Washing Classic taught the priests how to use Chi to clean the bone marrow and strengthen the blood and immune systems, as well as how to energize the brain and attain enlightenment. Because the Marrow/Brain Washing Classic was harder to understand and practice, the training methods were passed down secretly to only a very few disciples in each generation.
After the priests practiced the Muscle/Tendon Changing exercises, they found that not only did they improve their health, but they also greatly increased their strength. When this training was integrated into the martial arts forms, it increased the effectiveness of their techniques. In addition to this martial Chi Kung training, the Shaolin priests also created five animal styles of Kung Fu which imitated the way different animals fight. The animals imitated were the tiger, leopard, dragon, snake, and crane.
Outside of the monastery, the development of Chi Kung continued during the Swei and Tarng dynasties (581-907 A.D.). Chaur Yuan-Fang compiled the "Ju Bing Yuan Hou Luenn" (Thesis on the Origins and Symptoms of Various Diseases), which is a veritable encyclopedia of Chi Kung methods listing 260 different ways of increasing the Chi flow. The "Chian Gin Fang" (Thousand Gold Prescriptions) by Suen Sy-Meau described the method of leading Chi, and also described the use of the Six Sounds. The use of the Six Sounds to regulate Chi in the internal organs had already been used by the Buddhists and Taoists for some time. Suen Sy-Meau also introduced a massage system called Lao Tzyy's 49 Massage Techniques. "Wai Tai Mih Yao" (The Extra Important Secret) by Wang Tour discussed the "use of breathing and herbal therapies for disorders of Chi circulation.
During the Song, Gin, and Yuan dynasties (960-1368 A.D.), Teang Shenn Jyue" (Life Nourishing Secrets) by Chang An-Tao discussed several Chi Kung practices. "Ru Men Shyh Shyh" (The Confucian Point of View) by Chang Tzyy-Her describes the use of Chi Kung to cure external injuries such as cuts and sprains. "Lan Shyh Mih Tsarng" (Secret Library of the Orchid Room) by Li Guoo describes using Chi Kung and herbal remedies for internal disorders. "Ger Jyh Yu Luenn" (A Further Thesis of Complete Study) by Ju Dan-Shi provided a theoretical explanation for the use of Chi Kung in curing disease.
During the Song dynasty (960-1279 A.D.), Chang San-Feng is believed to have created Tai Chi Chuan. Tai Chi followed a different approach in its use of Chi Kung than did Shaolin. While Shaolin emphasized Wai Dan (External Elixir) Chi Kung exercises, Tai Chi emphasized Nei Dan (Internal Elixir) Chi Kung training.
In 1026 A.D. the famous brass man of acupuncture was designed and built by Dr. Wang Wei-Yi. Before this time, although there were many publications which discussed acupuncture theory, principles, and treatment techniques, there were many disagreements among them, and many points which were unclear. When Dr. Wang built his brass man, he also wrote a book called "Torng Ren Yu Shiuh Jen Jeou Twu" (Illustration of the Brass Man Acupuncture and Moxibustion). He explained the relationship of the 12 organs and the 12 Chi channels, clarified many of the points of confusion, and, for the first time, systematically organized acupuncture theory and principles.
In 1034 A.D. Dr. Wang used acupuncture to cure the emperor Ren Tzong. With the support of the emperor, acupuncture flourished. In order to encourage acupuncture medical research, the emperor built a temple to Bian Chiueh, who wrote the Nan Ching, and worshiped him as the ancestor of acupuncture. Acupuncture technology developed so much that even the Gin race in the North requested the brass man and other acupuncture technology as a condition for peace. Between 1102 to 1106 A.D. Dr. Wang dissected the bodies of prisoners and added more information to the Nan Ching. His work contributed greatly to the advancement of Chi Kung and Chinese medicine by giving a clear and systematic idea of the circulation of Chi in the human body.
Later, in the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279 A.D.), Marshal Yeuh Fei was credited with creating several internal Chi Kung exercises and martial arts. It is said that he created the Eight Pieces of Brocade to improve the health of his soldiers. He is also known as the creator of the internal martial style Hsing Yi. Eagle style martial artists also claim that Yeuh Fei was the creator of their style.
From then until the end of the Ching dynasty (1911 A.D.), many other Chi Kung styles were founded. The well known ones include Hwu Buh Kung (Tiger Step Kung), Shyr Er Juang (Twelve Postures) and Jiaw Huah Kung (Beggar Kung). Also in this period, many documents related to Chi Kung were published, such as "Bao Shenn Mih Yao" (The Secret Important Document of Body Protection) by Tsaur Yuan-Bair, which described moving and stationary Chi Kung practices; and 'Yeang Shenn Fu Yeu" (Brief Introduction to Nourishing the Body) by Chen Jih-Ru, about the three treasures: Jieng (Essence), Chi (Internal Energy), and Shen (Spirit). Also, "Yi Fang Jyi Jieh" (The Total Introduction to Medical Prescriptions) by Uang Fann-An reviewed and summarized the previously published materials; and
"Nei Kung Twu Shwo" (Illustrated Explanation of Nei Kung) by Wang Tzuu-Yuan presented the Twelve Pieces of Brocade and explained the idea of combining both moving and stationary Chi Kung.
In the late Ming dynasty (around 1640 A.D.), a martial Chi Kung style, Huoo Long Kung (Fire Dragon Kung) was created by the Tai Yang martial stylists. The well known internal martial art style Ba Kua Chang (Eight Trigrams Palm) is believed to have been created by Doong Hae-Chuan late in the Ching dynasty (1644-1911 A.D.). This style is now gaining in popularity throughout the world.
During the Ching dynasty, Tibetan meditation and martial techniques became widespread in China for the first time. This was due to the encouragement and interest of the Manchurian Emperors in the royal palace, as well as others of high rank in society.
Before 1911 A.D., Chinese society was still very conservative and old fashioned. Even though China had been expanding its contact with the outside world for the previous hundred years, the outside world had little influence beyond the coastal regions. With the overthrow of the Ching dynasty in 1911 and the founding of the Chinese Republic, the nation started changing as never before. Since this time Chi Kung practice has entered a new era. Because of the ease of communication in the modern world, Western culture is having a great influence on the Orient. Many Chinese have opened their minds and changed their traditional ideas, especially in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Various Chi Kung styles are now being taught openly, and many formerly secret documents have been published. Modern methods of communication have opened up Chi Kung to a much wider audience than ever before, and people now have the chance to study and understand many different styles. In addition, people are now able to compare Chinese Chi Kung to similar arts from other countries such as India, Japan, Korea, and the Middle East.
I believe that in the near future Chi Kung will be considered the most exciting and challenging field of research. It is an ancient science just waiting to be investigated with the help of the new technologies now being developed at an almost explosive rate. Anything we can do to speed up this research will greatly help humanity to understand and improve itself.
Generally speaking, all Chi Kung practices can be divided according to their training theory and methods into two general categories: Wai Dan (External Elixir) and Nei Dan (Internal Elixir). Understanding the differences between them will give you an overview of most Chinese Chi Kung practices.
L Wai Dan (External Elixir)
"Wai" means "external or outside," and "Dan" means "elixir." External here means the limbs, as opposed to the torso, which includes all of the vital organs. Elixir is a hypothetical, life-prolong ing substance for which Chinese Taoists have been searching for millennia. They originally thought that the elixir was something physical which could be prepared from herbs or chemicals purified in a furnace. After thousands of years of study and experimentation, they found that the elixir is in the body. In other words, if you want to prolong your life, you must find the elixir in your body, and then learn to protect and nourish it.
In Wai Dan Chi Kung practice, you concentrate your attention on your limbs. As you exercise, the Chi builds up in your arms and legs. When the Chi potential in your limbs builds to a high enough level, the Chi will flow through the channels, clearing any obstructions and nourishing the organs. This is the main reason that a person who works out, or has a physical job, is generally healthier than someone who sits around all day.
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