Origins of Qi Gong

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Tao Symbol Dragons

Tao is considered to mean "guiding the breath" (Tao Qi), and yin means "to induce the breath" (Yin Qi). The premise of Daoyin is physical movement in conjunction with the breath to mobilize the Qi throughout the body. But there is much more meaning to it than just those ideas.

At Mawangdui, near Changsha in Hunan Province, a large length of silk from the early Han Dynasty was discovered in an unearthed tomb. Painted on this silk were forty-four figures clearly performing Daoyin exercises. Thus it was named the Tao Yin Tu (Chart). A series of the drawings were prefixed with the word Yin, but here the meaning is to "induce a cure." So the early meaning of Daoyin appears to have been "leading the breath to induce a cure."

In his discourses on Chuang Tzu, Li Yi, an early Han Dynasty Taoist, describes Tao as the process of "guiding the breath to make it harmonious" and yin as "leading the body to become soft." Soft carries many meanings such as flexible, pliable, open, relaxed, sensitive, alert, and so on. It is through softness, the elimination of tension and so forth, that Qi is able to freely move about the body through the meridians and collaterals, which is to say Xing Qi.

The term Xing Qi first appeared on the handle of a staff unearthed in

Shantung Province, dated

Hsing Staff Inlaid Jade Inscriptions

circa 380 b.c. The inlaid jade inscriptions refer to the purpose and ensuing sensations of Pi Qi (closing the breath), which, again, is the mobilization of breath-energy (Xing Qi).

The earliest physiological semblances of Xing Qi developed from the Huang Ti Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor's Internal Classic), an attributed medical record of the emperor Huang Ti (2697-2597 b.c.), but the work didn't appear until sometime during the third orfirst century b.c. In the chapter on "Plain Questions," we find the instructions for what Taoists came to call "tortoise breathing" (Kuei Xi, swallowing the breath):

"Breathe deeply seven times, each time 'closing up the breath' [Pi Qi], extending the neck and swallowing the breath as one does so. It should be as if one is swallowing something hard. Having done this seven times, move the tongue around and swallow the saliva produced several times."

Almost six hundred years later, Ko Hung, a fourth century a.d. Taoist alchemist adept and writer, reports that his uncle, Ko Hsuan, would sit at the bottom of a pool holding his breath for almost an entire day when the summer heat was too unbearable. This is an indication that Ko Hsuan was very adept at this type of Pi Qi breathing.

In many instances in Ko Hung's work, the Pao P'u Tzu, he advocates these types of breathing for the attainment of longevity and immortality

True breathing (Zhen Qi) comes not from pushing out the stomach and filling it with air, but rather from focusing your attention and allowing the breath to follow the mind-intent (Yi). Anyone can accomplish this. Just close your eyes momentarily and focus your attention into your lower stomach. Within moments you can feel the breath activated there. From this seemingly simple effort comes a wide range of Qi development and experience. In the Pao P'u Tzu, Ko Hung states:

"Man exists within his breath, and breath is within man. Throughout Heaven, Earth, and the ten-thousand things there is nothing which does not require breath [Qi] to live. The man yy

"It is through softness that Qi is able to freely move about the body who knows how to circulate his breath can guard his own person and banish any evil which would attack him."

Numerous books, from yoga and martial arts to healing and meditation, have been written on the subject of breathing. It is rare, however, to find one that speaks about how the breath can really become natural and effective. Mostly, these books speak about slowing the breath down, making it deep, long, continuous, and even. Anyone who tries this soon discovers that their breath rises into the solar plexus and lung area and becomes pensive. This happens because the breath is being forced to do something that it is not doing. The breath cannot be made to do anything other than what it is doing.

Another problem with the breath stems from how the abdomen itself is thought to function. Most people think that somehow just pushing out the front of the stomach is abdominal breathing. This is only half breathing. The stomach should be thought of as a balloon or bellows, with the entire abdomen breathing, not just the front part.

Trying to make your breath slow, deep, continuous, and even is like stirring up a dirty glass of water to get the debris to settle, it will just continue to be muddled and agitated. If, however, the glass were set aside and left alone the debris would settle to the bottom of the glass of its own accord.

As stated in the Mental Elucidation of the Thirteen Kinetic Postures (a Taijiquan treatise attributed to the Immortal Ancestor Wang Chung-yueh):

"If you give all your attention to your mind-intent [Yi] and ignore your breath [Qi], your strength will be like pure steel. If, however, you only pay attention to the breath, the blood circulation will be obstructed and your strength weakened."

All you need to do in applying mind-intent is to focus your attention on the Dantian (or whatever area you are working with) and the breath will follow. Sense and feel that area with all your attention. From this practice your breathing will naturally become slow, deep, continuous, and even because you are not trying to make it so—the breath is just acting in accord with the intent. This is true "sinking the Qi into the Dantian." Breath is like the debris in the glass of water; if you leave it alone it will sink by Stuart Olson

Swimming DragonErle Montaigue Teachers

Teaching is very challenging. Being a teacher comes with a great responsibility. It is not enough to just teach the skill, you also have to educate your students how to behave, to respect the skill they are learning and to understand where it originates from. Some students may say they respect it, but when they are put to the test they fall short of the mark.

ecently I heard that a person was teaching Dayan I Qigong in the North of the UK. It made me sad as this person, a former student of mine, was not qualified to teach Dayan Qigong. In fact he had not Leven finished studying the form with me. I wrote him a letter telling him to stop teaching but he did not reply, so I asked Darryl Moy to call him, as they used to get on quite well together, however, he was abusive on the phone.

I felt very sad as my teacher Grandmaster Yang Meijun passed this skill to me and told me to develop it in the West. I was about to move to England and she told me to use Dayan Qigong to help other people and I promised her that I would.

My teacher had kept this skill for over 70 years before she taught it to anyone. She learned it from her Grandfather, and he told her not to teach anyone until she was 70 years old and that even then she was only allowed to teach one person. This rule of the Dayan Qigong had been passed down over 1800 years since the Jin Dynasty.

My teacher decided to open Dayan Qigong to the public because she wanted to help the Chinese people who had suffered during the Cultural Revolution. In opening her skill to the public, her main reason was to help all the sick people who had suffered so much. These people needed help, and although she taught them, she did not mean for them to go and teach the skill for themselves. However some did do this, and worse still some did it just to make money and did not consider what result their teaching would have on other people. People who learn incorrectly will make themselves ill. If you do not do Qigong properly, you may cause yourself problems which might be more or less severe depending on the quality of the teacher.

Dayan Qigong is a very profound system of Qigong. It has a very long history and has been proven to be good for health and longevity. The 27th generation inheritor, Grandmaster Yang Meijun is 105 years old and is still healthy. She is living proof of the benefits of Dayan Qigong, however there are many other people who have learned it properly who also have gained a lot of health benefits from it. Grandmaster Yang Meijun's longevity is not just a result of her skill. It is also her heart. The skill she has developed helps her heart and her heart helps her skill.

However, to teach Qigong properly is a different story. Anyone who teaches it must have a lot of knowledge about it. They should know about all the movements, how they make the Qi work and how they relate to the internal organs, acupuncture points, channels, how different directions affect the body, breathing, relaxation, mind, correct posture and how to avoid causing any health problems.

Sometimes, a person may think they can pick up my book, or my teacher's book and learn the skill from it. However, you cannot learn Qigong from a book, particularly a form like Dayan Qigong. I once met a person who had bought my book, "Qigong for Health and Vitality" who had been following the movements of the Taiji Qigong and Balancing Gong, as they looked easy enough to do. But, so far, I have never met anyone who has not studied with me or one of my students, who has been able to do the movements right. Either they do them too fast or too slow, usually the posture is wrong and they are not able to move with the Qi.

Other people will say that leaning from a video is better. Learning from a video is better, but it is still very limited. You will still make mistakes as internal detail cannot be described properly on video. Also you should remember that although his movement on the video might be perfect at that moment,

"A// the results of your wrong actions wi// come back to you sooner or later

Michael Tse and his Teacher, Grandmaster Yang Meijun
Swimming Dragon Gong

after a few years, the master will move differently from the way he moved on the video. Why is this? Movement is external and the video is illustrating what the master knew and understood of the skill at that moment. However, he will continue to develop his skill and so the movement will reflect this over time. After another five or ten years, if the master is still doing the movements exactly the same then it means he has not improved.

Actually, I should not just talk about movement, I should say the Qi and movement become one: mind, movement and Qi all come together. This is a very high level and there is no limit to this. Why do I say this? For instance, imagine one day you are sitting at home relaxed, doing nothing. You just relax and you feel good. This might last for 20 minutes.

Another time you try and do the same, but this time you do not get that feeling back, because you have a lot of distractions and your mind is thinking too much. It is impossible to concentrate on being peaceful. Even though you cannot do it, if you keep trying, keep practising, then you will be able to do 20 minutes again, and even 30 minutes to an hour the next time.

Practising Qigong movements is the same. The more you practise the more it will flow and the better you will be. In the beginning, after you have followed the video, you think that you have got it and you think you are doing the same, but if an expert sees you, or just someone who has learnt it properly, then they can immediately point out any mistakes that you make.

All beginners have gone through this process. At first you find learning the movements difficult, then after a while

you think you have got it because you have gone from not knowing anything to knowing some of the movement. The next step you find that although you know the movement, you find you are doing it wrong. At this time you can see things more clearly, you can see more detail. Actually you are now improving. When you find that you feel you are good, then it means you are not good. When you find you are not improving, then you are actually improving. When you keep practising, you find that you are good, but you know that you are not good enough. You know what your weak points are, know what your good points are and how to keep them, and you also know how to improve yourself. Now you are on the right track, and if you can keep going, then you will only get better.

I have been studying Dayan Qigong for almost 20 years. I still go back to see my teacher every year and listen to what she tells me. She points out my mistakes and leads me right direction.

During the last 11 years of teaching over 80% students have been Westerners and only a few Chinese people. Maybe most Chinese people in the West are too busy working or studying and Western people are keener to learn Chinese skill.

I have a lot of good students who have been with me for over 10 years and are still studying. It is like one big family. Those who have been with me long enough have been to visit my teacher, their Grandteacher (Sigong) Yang Meijun. They have seen the source and even her family, they have met her children and grandchildren. Some close students of my teacher are my students' uncles and aunts.

They all understand that learning Dayan Qigong is not just about learning the movements and some skill. This means they have graduated, because they know there is more to learning Dayan Qigong. First they respect the skill and their teacher, because without the teacher where would they have gotten the skill? Your teacher is your guide, giving you the right direction, pointing out the right way so you can

"If you do n Qigongprop then you may yourself pro develop the right skill. You cannot just take the skill and ignore your teacher. You should not treat your teacher as your friend. Friends and teachers have different positions. Teachers are equal to your parents. Teachers educate you, show you how to be a good person and give you the skill and help you develop your talents to survive in society. Parents give you maintenance and without this you would already be dead. They spend most of their time with you and love you. Of course there are always in the bad parents, but maybe they are not that bad, it is just your own opinion of them. In any case, you should not be a bad of my child to them as this is not right.

This is the same as you teacher. If your have learned some skill from them and have benefited, then you should respect them and respect the skill.

I have come across some students who just wanted my skill and who did not want to know anything else about me. Some did not even tell other people they studied with me. After they had learned something, they went away and tried to make money from it. This is a completely wrong way of thinking. Dayan Qigong is a very spiritual skill.

Although my teacher, myself and some of my students make a living from teaching the Dayan Qigong skill, we do not sell the s kill a n d n o on e teaches anything they do not have permission to teach. This is against Chinese custom and is out of respect for the teacher.

Anyone who teaches the skill without permission will upset the teacher and is a bad student. People have said to me, "Everyone in the West does that." Personally, I do not think so. I do not think that just because some bad students do it, everyone does it. There are lots of good students who like to listen to their teacher, and respect their teacher's skill greatly, unlike those who do not think about the consequences.

When you teach Dayan Qigong without being qualified, then it means your skill is not good enough and your heart is not ready and therefore your teacher will not let you teach because you might cause other people a problem. In the beginning people might start to study with you, but after awhile ^^ when they want more information, and they will check around and they will find out the truth.

Once they find out, they will have to go back to the source and find a qualified teacher and learn properly. They will also be very upset that they have been deceived by a unqualified teacher and will say bad things about that teacher. Some might even want their money back.

On the other side, the teacher will be unable to tell people the truth because he knows that he is not qualified. Every time he teaches someone it damages his heart, just like a thief who steals from everyone. One day the guilt will come and it will damage his health.

When you are not doing things properly it will damage your heart. All the results of you wrong actions will come back to you sooner or later. That is nature.

We have all heard about the Chinese teachers who will not teach their skill properly to Western people. Do now why they do this? Some people thi nk that they want to keep the skill only for Chinese people so Western people will never be better. However, the main reason is that some bad students are very selfish. They just want to take the skill and run away and then they betray their teacher. These students also make up bad stories about their teacher to make themselves appear a good person. This is the only way they can face their students. The way they behave is very bad and you can say they are traitors. It does not matter whether they are Chinese or not.

Sifu Michael Tse and a group of his students visiting Grandmaster Yang Meijun

Generally a good teacher will like to find some good students to pass their skill on to. Because of all these bad students, the teacher will be very cautious with all the students and will be very strict. Some teachers will even not pass on the skill fully.

I have seen all these things happening in my teaching.

So I have set up some rules for my students and my students will pass on these rules as well as the skill.

The first thing people must do when studying with me is sign a form in which they agree not to teach any of the skill they learn without permission. All instructors must take part in an instructor's course and can only teach what exercises they have been tested and passed on the course. If an instructor misses more than two years of the instructors' course their qualification will be revoked.

This is in accordance with Grandmasters Yang Meijun's wishes inorder to protect the student and preserve the propper and correct form of tuition H

by Michael Tse

Yang Mei Jun Qigong

Sifu Michael Tse and a group of his students visiting Grandmaster Yang Meijun

Swimming Dragon

"Generally a good teacher will like to find some good students to pass their skill onto."

Everyone likes to be praised and complemented, but compliments and praise are not everything. Although they make you feel good and you might like them, they may be no help to you at all. Always remember no praise is better than false praise.

Chan had finished his chores for the day and was strolling back to the house when he came across Ma sitting on a rock. It was obvious he was not very happy from the way he sat staring at the ground..

"What's wrong Ma? Can I help?" offered Chan.

"I don't think I'm getting any better. When Sifu teaches me he might just say "good" or "getting better", but then points out more mistakes and tells me to practise more. So I don't think I am really improving." Ma sighed. "Its OK for you, people say you are good all the time."

Chan sat down next to Ma and looked up at the blue sky. "I remember a story I was told when I was very young, do you want to hear it?" he asked Ma. Ma nodded but did not look up.

"There was a young bird who was learning to fly. His mother told him to practise hard so that he would be strong enough to fly to the moon. However, the young bird knew that it was impossible to fly to the moon so he preferred to play and liked to skim the ground and show off to the other animals. "

"The other animals were so impressed and all told him how good he was. After a while he really thought he was good, and refused to practise when his mother told him to. Then one day a big storm came and of course, the young bird was not strong enough to handle the wind and so did not survive."

"That did not cheer me up." said

Chan laughed, "I guess I am not as good at telling stories as Sifu. But what

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  • Bernd
    Does anyone do the swimming dragon qigong Does it help you feel better?
    7 years ago

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