What is Chi Kung

You can see from the preceding discussion that Chi is energy, and it is found in the heavens, in the earth, and in every living thing. All of these different types of energy interact with each other, and can convert into each other. In China, the word "Kung" is often used instead of "Kung Fu," which means energy and time. Any study or training which requires a lot of energy and time to learn or to accomplish is called Kung Fu. The term can be applied to any special skill or study as long as it requires time, energy, and patience. Therefore, the correct definition of Chi Kung is any training or study dealing with Chi which takes a long time and a lot of effort.

Chi exists in everything, from the largest to the smallest. Since the range of Chi is so vast, the Chinese have divided it into three categories, parallel to the Three Powers (San Tsair) of Heaven, Earth, and Man. Generally speaking, Heaven Chi is the biggest and the most powerful. This Heaven Chi contains within it the Earth Chi, and within this Heaven and Earth Chi lives man, with his own Chi. You can see that Human Chi is part of Heaven Chi and Earth Chi. However, since the human beings who research Chi are mainly interested in Human Chi, the term Chi Kung is usually used to refer only to Chi training for people.

Chi Kung research should ideally include Heaven Chi, Earth Chi, and Human Chi. Understanding Heaven Chi is very difficult, however, and it was especially so in ancient times when the science was just developing. The major rules and principles relating to Heaven Chi can be found in such books as The Five Elements and Ten Stems, Celestial Stems, and the I Ching.

Many people have become proficient in the study of Earth Chi. They are called Dih Lii Shy (Geomancy Teachers) or Feng Shoei Shy (Wind Water Teachers). These experts use the accumulated body of geomantic knowledge and the I Ching to help people make important decisions such as where and how to build a house, or even where to locate a grave. This profession is still quite common in China.

The Chinese people believe that Human Chi is affected and controlled by Heaven Chi and Earth Chi, and that they in fact determine your destiny. Some people specialize in explaining these connections; they are called Suann Ming Shy (Calculate Life Teachers), or fortune tellers.

Most Chi Kung research has focused on Human Chi. Since Chi is the source of life, if you understand how Chi functions and know how to affect it correctly, you should be able to live a long and healthy life. Many different aspects of Human Chi have been researched, including acupuncture, acupressure, massage, herbal treatment, meditation, and Chi Kung exercises. The use of acupuncture, acupressure, massage, and herbal treatment to adjust Human Chi flow has become the root of Chinese medical science. Meditation and moving Chi Kung exercises are widely used by the Chinese people to improve their health or even to cure certain illnesses. Meditation and Chi Kung exercises serve an additional role in that Taoists and Buddhists use them in their spiritual pursuit of enlightenment and Buddhahood.

You can see that the study of any of the aspects of Chi should be called Chi Kung. However, since the term is usually used today only in reference to the cultivation of Human Chi, we will use it only in this narrower sense to avoid confusion.

1-3. A Brief History of Chi Kung

The history of Chinese Chi Kung can be roughly divided into four periods. We know little about the first period, which is considered to have started when the "I Ching" (Book of Changes) was introduced sometime before 1122 B.C., and to have extended until the Han dynasty (206 B.C.) when Buddhism and its meditation methods were imported from India. This infusion brought Chi Kung practice and meditation into the second period, the religious Chi Kung era. This period lasted until the Liang dynasty (502-557 A.D.), when it was discovered that Chi Kung could be used for martial purposes. This was the beginning of the third period, that of martial Chi Kung. Many dif ferent martial Chi Kung styles were created based on the theories and principles of Buddhist and Taoist Chi Kung. This period lasted until the overthrow of the Ching dynasty in 1911, when the new era started in which Chinese Chi Kung training is being mixed with Chi Kung practices from India, Japan, and many other countries.

Before the Han Dynasty (Before 206 B.C.)

The "I Ching" (Book of Changes; 1122 B.C.) was probably the first Chinese book related to Chi. It introduced the concept of the three natural energies or powers (San Tsair): Tian (Heaven), Dih (Earth), and Ren (Man). Studying the relationship of these three natural powers was the first step in the development of Chi Kung.

In 1766-1154 B.C. (the Shang dynasty), the Chinese capital was in today's An Yang in Henan province. An archaeological dig there at a late Shang dynasty burial ground called Yin Shiu discovered more than 160,000 pieces of turtle shell and animal bone which were covered with written characters. This writing, called Jea Guu Wen' (Oracle-Bone Scripture), was the earliest evidence of the Chinese use of the written word. Most of the information recorded was of a religious nature. There was no mention of acupuncture or other medical knowledge, even though it was recorded in the Nei Ching that during the reign of the Yellow emperor (2690-2590 B.C.) Bian Shyr (Stone Probes) were already being used to adjust people's Chi circulation.

During the Jou dynasty (1122-934 B.C.), Lao Tzyy (Li Erh) mentioned certain breathing techniques in his classic "Tao Te Ching" (Classic on the Virtue of the Tao). He stressed that the way to obtain health was to "concentrate on Chi and achieve softness" (Juan Chi Jyh RouX*l). Later, "Shyy Gi" (Historical Record) in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods (770-221 B.C.) also described more complete methods of breath training. About 300 B.C. the Taoist philosopher Juang Tzyy described the relationship between health and breathing in his book "Nan Hwa Ching." It states: "The men of old breathed clear down to their heels..." This was not a figure of speech, and confirms that a breathing method for Chi circulation was being used by some Taoists at that time.

During the Chin and Han dynasties (221 B.C.-220 A.D.) there are several medical references to Chi Kung in the literature, such as the "Nan Ching" (Classic on Disorders) by the famous doctor Bian Chiueh, which describes using breathing to increase Chi circulation. "Gin Guey Yao Liueh" (Prescriptions from the Golden Chamber) by Chang Jong-Jiing discusses the use of breathing and acupuncture to maintain good Chi flow. "Jou I Tsan Torng Chih" (A Comparative Study of the Jou (dynasty) Book of Changes) by Wey Bor-Yang explains the relationship of human beings to nature's forces and Chi. You can see that during this period almost all of the Chi Kung publications were written by scholars such as Lao Tzyy and Juang Tzyy, or medical doctors such as Bian Chiueh and Wey Bor-Yang._

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