”Qi gong” (pronounced chee-GONG) is an ancient Chinese healing art, philosophy and spiritual belief that combines gentle movements, deep breathing, self-massage, mediation and variety of other practices. “Qi “means "vital energy" (See Below) and “gong” means "cultivate."
Qi gong forms the basis of traditional Chinese medicine, several martial arts, and unexplained powers. The force behind qi gong is qi. Considered a “national treasure,”' qi gong is supported by the government. It is sometimes thought of as a kind of faith healing.
Qi gong has many supernatural associations. Qi gong masters perform healing massages without touching the body, ignite fires with forces generated by their hands and claim they can fill entire lecture halls with uplifting positive energy particles. There is a story of kung fu master in the early 1900s who was harassed by a foreigner on a horse and killed the horse by laying his hands on the animal and disrupting its internal organs with qi.
Qi gong has been credited with improving scores on university entrance exams and locating victims under collapsed buildings. Some qigong masters attribute their powers to black holes, gamma rays, and antimatter. In China, qi gong was nearly wiped out during the Cultural Revolution. Many skilled practitioners failed to pass their secrets on to the next generation before they died.
Good Websites and Sources on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM): National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) /nccam.nih.gov/health ; National Center for Biotechnology Information resources on Chinese Medicine ncbi.nlm.nih.gov ; Skepticism of Chinese Medicine quackwatch.org ; Chinese Medicine Chinese Text Project ; Wikipedia article on Traditional Chinese Medicine Wikipedia ; American Journal for Chinese Medicine ejournals.worldscientific.com ; On Qi Gong ikipedia article Wikipedia ; Classical text sources neigong.net ; Qi Gong Institute qigonginstitute.org ; Qi Gong association of America /www.qi.org ; Skeptic’s Dictionary on Qi Gong skepdic.com More Skepticism of Qi Gong quackwatch.org
”Qi” (or “chi” or “ki”) is a mystical material force described using terms like “cosmic energy,” “life force,” "vital energy," "the Breath of Heaven," and "the Breath of Nature." Said to be generated by yin and yang, it is regarded as the fundamental life force in the universe, and the force that gives life to living things. Sometimes associated with Confucianism and Taoism, it is harnessed by acupuncturists to cure patients, by monks to achieve oneness with nature and by businessmen to achieve success. It is a force possessed by every individual but some people take the time to master it and cultivate and use its special powers.
There are two kinds of qi: "hard" ki, which is associated with martial arts like kung fu and karate, and "soft" ki, which is associated with meditation, health and concentration. One qi gong instructor told the Korea Times, qi gong "is very systematic and even scientific. Step by step, you can learn how to absorb the ki scattered around, and you not only become healthy but also achieve a wholeness with the universe, the source of the unlimited energy or ki."
Qi gong practitioners are taught to control ki by controlling their breathing, their mind and their body and learn how to harmonize these three things to live long, healthy lives and heighten their mental and spiritual powers. They are also taught to perform exercises that focus qi to different parts of the body. In one series of movements called the Bear, intended to stimulate the kidneys and lower back, practitioners stand upright, hold their palms upwards near their ears and twist their bodies back and forth at the waist. In the old days, some people believed that belching and farting caused a person to lose qi and hastened their death. For this reason monks don't eat root food that make them fart and belch.
Qi Gong and Health
Some people have claimed they were treated successfully for serious diseases by qi gong after Western medical techniques failed. There are also old stories of miraculous recoveries by mutilated warriors, presumed to be dead, who suddenly jump to life after being treated with qi gong.
Qi is manipulated by Chinese doctors with acupuncture and herbs. Individuals who treat themselves take qi classes to increase the circulation of their blood, cure disease and improve their respiratory systems.
There are 2,000 different variations of qi gong, most of which are concerned with individual realization. Fulan Dafa, a cult-like branch of qi gong also known as the Truth, Compassion and Tolerance Universal Law, practices faith healing and other forms of quackery. Members believe that they have a pod of energy in their stomachs that is powerful enough to move mountains and raise the dead. One member once said he didn't eat, drink or talk because he feared the energy source in his abdomen would leak. Falun Gong is another qi gong cult. See Falun Gong, Religion.
Qigong pyschotic reaction is a mental disorder defined in medical literature defined as mental symptoms that occur for a brief period after someone has undergone qi-gong.
Theories About Qi, Disease and Health
Disease is believed to be caused when a patient's qi is too weak, out of balance or blocked. The task of a Chinese doctor is make the qi strong by restoring its balance with he universe and harmonizing the internal rhythms of he patients with the rhythms of his or her environment.
In his paper “Traditional Vietnamese Medicine: Historical Perspective and Current Usage,” Hue Chan Thai wrote: “The cornerstone of Dong Y (Traditional Vietnamese Medicine) theories is based on the observed effects of Qi (energy). Although there are as many different forms of Qi (Digestive, Immune, Mental state), they are all related to the original Source or Essence and Food Qi. The Essence is inherited from our parents, while Food Qi is extracted from food. So Qi represents both the potential or stored energy as well as the kinetic energy. It is both matter and energy. The counterpart of Qi is Blood. It is thought of as a nourishing substance that carries Qi to every part of the body. However, in practice Blood and Qi are just of one entity, like two faces of the same coin. [Source: Hue Chan Thai, ND, MSA, University of Washington, August 1, 2003. Last Reviewed: September 20, 2011 \=]
The functions of Qi can be summarized as 1) providing movement, 2) defending the body from pathological factors, and 3)supporting/promoting growth and development. The functions of Blood can be summarized as nourishment and moistening. Blood nourishes Qi and Qi moves Blood. As in physics, the concept of Qi is also universal — our energy and that of the universe is transferable. One can deplete one’s Qi by strenuous work, poor diet and lifestyle. It is believed that one can also harvest energy from the universe by maintaining optimal health and by exercises like Qi-gong and Tai-Chi. \=\
Qi Gong Doctors and Treatments
Lee Kang-won, a Korean practitioner of Qi gong, told the Korean Herald, "Many of the illnesses people suffer today are the result of worsening environmental pollution, consumption of too much instant food, harmful electro-magnetic waves, stress and bad habits acquired in the course of living in this modern high-tech society that throw the yin and yang out of balance...Since most of the causes of ailments can be attributed to the breakdown of harmony between yin and yang, my treatment entails reestablishment of the equilibrium between the two primal forces that make up the vital energy of a person."
Lee treats various kinds of ailments by holding his hands above the hands of his patients to stimulate the flow off chi (qi), using a gold ring to reinforce positive energy and a silver ring to extract negative energy. The treatment also incorporates the concept that qi flows through the five finger to five organs in the body.
Qi has been claimed to help people lose weight, grow hair and lower high blood pressure. Doctors attribute the success of qi gong to something called the "Relaxation Response," which increases oxygen consumption, white blood cell dilation, blood circulation and decreases muscle tension by slowing the body down.
One study at Columbia University showed that one group of adults with hypertension were able to lower their blood pressure by an average of 10 percent by performing a series of qi gong exercises twice a week for eight weeks. A study performed a medical school in New Jersey involving 20 suffers of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy found that qi gong sessions helped relieve pain but didn't halt the progression of the disease. One 374-pound Chinese woman said she tried qi gong breathing exercises to help her loose weight but the treatment failed.
Image Sources: Wellington Physiotherapy; Wedgeweeod Acupuncture; Acupuncture Products; Qi Gong Foundation; Micheal Moon at Lotus Space; Wikipedia; BBC
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Last updated September 2022