Introduction to Taichi and Qigong

What is Qi Gong?

Qi Gong is the practice of learning to control the movement of the life force (“qi” or “chi”) internally by using the mind to direct energy in the body. Some Qi Gong exercises coordinate the breath with simple movement, while some involve no movement. Qi Gong, which literally translates as “working with the energy of life force”, is an integrated body-mind-spirit healing method that has been practiced with remarkable results in China for more than two thousand years. It has long been treasured for its effectiveness both in spiritual cultivation, healing and preventing disease. The fundamental value of Qi Gong is to increase the body’s life-force or qi, and to improve its circulation throughout the system. Once the qi flows freely and evenly, the body heals and restores itself naturally, efficiently, and consistently. Thus, emotional balance and physical health are improved and maintained.

More recently Qi Gong has been used in conjunction with modern medicine to cure cancer, immune system disorders, and other life-threatening conditions. The benefits of Qi Gong are obvious in those who practice it correctly. These exuberant individuals sleep more soundly; feel increased strength and heightened sexuality, and in their mind-body-spirit they achieve the harmony of true health.

What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi is actually a type of Qi Gong because it involves using the mind and breath to control the movement of energy in the body. It is different from the “meditative” Qi Gong described above in the sense that it involves more complicated movements that also have applications in the martial arts. Hence it is classified as a “dynamic” type of Qi Gong. The movements of Tai Chi can be done slowly for health purposes, or quickly for self defense. Tai Chi can be done safely by people of all
ages, and regular practice of it promotes mental tranquility, as well as physical strength and flexibility well into old age.

Tai Chi is an abridged name of Tai Ji Quan. Tai Chi translates literally as “the Great Polarities of Yin and Yang,”
while Quan means “fist,” “balance.” Tai Chi belongs to the “dynamic” Qi Gong category vs. “meditative” Qi Gong category. It is comprised of three components: (1) the I Ching and Yin Yang Five-phase theories, (2) Taoist healing, breathing techniques and Chinese medicine as its internal means, and (3) the best of Chinese combat techniques as its external means.

Tai Chi is one of the most advanced Chinese martial art forms. Its fundamental structure is based on combat and self-defense moves. Since Tai Chi belongs to the “Qi Gong category,” the emphasis on the “internal energy circulation” often gives Tai Chi a meditative appeal. However, the slow form practice could be deceiving. Tai Chi’s essential approach to a better qi circulation, or removing qi blockage in order to heal and restore emotional balance and physical health, like that of Qi Gong, is still just one side of the story.

How do Qi Gong and Tai Chi help or improve one’s well-being?

Three blocks lay the theoretic foundation of Qi Gong: the Taoist philosophy, the Chinese cosmology including the Yin and Yang and Five-phase theory, and Chinese medicine. However, the essential Qi Gong techniques combine focused visualization and mental concentration with balanced breathing in a controlled way. Some Qi Gong exercises involve coordinating the breathing and concentration with simple movements. Others involve no movement at all.

The idea of qi is a very ancient Chinese discovery. The close and explicit modern account for qi could be the idea of “field” that we find in modern physics. As Einstein remarks: “Regard matter as being constituted by the regions of space in which the field is extremely intense… there is no place in this new kind of physics for both the field and matter, for the field is the only reality.” All living beings survive and prosper by this field, or qi, the energy or force of life. There is no “good” or “bad” field, by any moral standard, in the same way that there is no absolute “good” or “bad” qi. Rather, there is only the harmonized qi that circulates in a living body and supports life. Thus, the human body requires a harmonized circulation of qi.

When qi is blocked within the body system, according to Chinese thought, then the body manifests emotional imbalance or physical sickness. When the qi is blocked, it builds up where it may not be needed or wanted, much like too much water will overflow a riverbed and flood into surrounding areas. Because of this build-up in the wrong area, other parts of the body do not receive sufficient qi. Once there is an imbalance of qi flow, the entire body will be affected and disease will result and then, ultimately, illness and death.

The fundamental value of Qi Gong is to improve qi circulation, and help the body to remove the qi blockages and increase the flow of qi throughout the system. Once the qi flows freely and evenly, the body heals and restores itself naturally, efficiently, and consistently. Thus, emotional balance and physical health are maintained.

How may one learn Qi Gong or Tai Chi?

One may learn Qi Gong and Tai qi any number of ways, through courses and classes. However, to save your time and energy, or get the maximum benefits within minimum time, it would always be better to find a Lineage-Master or Sifu, not just any skillful, or recognized Master or Shifu. Working with a Lineage Master can assist you in learning the essential and accurate exercises in the shortest amount of time and with the highest rate of success.

Many cultural practices of China have long been veiled in a tradition of secrecy. The practice of Qi Gong and Tai Chi was one of them. The essential principles and rational were often omitted from public teaching and were known only to the Lineage Masters of the various styles and their lineage disciples. A rubric of the oral tradition of Tai Chi illustrates the traditional secrecy of the cultural bias: “I will teach you Quan (external form, movements and techniques), but not Gong (the essential foundation and principles).”

Grandmaster YeYoung is a teacher and scholar on China and Tibet. Born into the Royal Family of the Ming Dynasty, he was raised in the Literati Tradition of literature and poetry, painting and calligraphy, and the Chinese esoteric practices of I Ching, Feng
Shui, divination, and Qi Gong meditation by his grandfather, a revered Taoist Sage and I Ching Master, and his father, a Taoist
Master and Chinese medical doctor. Master YeYoung received the exclusive Chen Family Tai Chi teaching from Kong Tong Master Chi Youren, and the grand master, and the tenth lineage holder Chen Zhaokui of Chen Family. He also received the lineage teachings and transmissions of the high Tantra practice from the Tibetan Sakya Khon Family, and the Confucian Nei Gong medicine school. He is now the Patriarch of YeYoung tradition and the lineage holder of Kong Tong school, the Eleventh Generation Master of the internal transmission of Chen family Tai Chi, the lineage carried on and taught by Chen Changxin, Chen Fake, and Chen Zhaokui. After the 1989 Tianamen Square Massacre, Master YeYoung resigned his job as a university professor in Asian Humanities in China. He and his wife, Pema, spent nine years taking long retreats in Tibet and China before they settled in Sacramento, California, three years ago. His mission is to make the knowledge he has acquired accessible to his students.

Notes:

Qi Gong: Qi Gong (also spelled “chi gong” or “chi gung”, and pronounced “chee kung”) is also called Nei Gong (internal breathing work), Tu Nai (breathing in-and-out work), Dao Yin (directing the internal energy), Xing Qi (circulating qi), and Zuo Chan (sitting meditation).

“Qi” is the Chinese word for “life energy” and for the energy one senses in the universe. A living being survives by “qi”. Hence, human health requires that qi in the body be clear, rather than polluted and turbid, and flowing smoothly, like a stream—not blocked or stagnant. “Gong” means work or reimbursements acquired through perseverance and practice. Therefore, Qi Gong is working with the life energy, and energy in the universe; learning how to control the flow and distribution of qi to improve the health and harmony of the body, mind, and spirit, both within and with one’s surroundings.

Qi Gong techniques are divided into two general categories: Dong Gong, the dynamic Qi Gong, and Jing Gong, the meditative Qi Gong. Dynamic Qi Gong includes physical movements; the entire body moves from one posture to another, or a posture is held while the four limbs move through various positions. Tai Chi is an example of a dynamic Qi Gong. In meditative Qi Gong, the entire body is still. The qi is controlled by mental concentration, visualization, and precise methods of breathing. There is not one style or school of Qi Gong, but many
hundreds. All are based on common principles of balance (yin yang and the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal, and water),
relaxation, breathing, and posture. Their names range from animals to legendary figures, mountains to plants, and philosophies to human organs. The YeYoung Qi Gong method adheres to the traditional Chinese methods, focusing on the teachings of unbroken lineages through physical empowerments and oral transmissions. The techniques of Ye Young Qi Gong are now available to Westerners for the first time. It is taught in detailed postures, and is coordinated with breathing techniques to enable you to focus on the working of your inner world and subtle body.

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Tai Chi: an abridged name of Tai Ji Quan. Tai Chi was established by Chen Wangting of the Chen family in Chen Jia Gou village of Wen county, Henan province, China in the early 1600. Not until the fourteenth generation Tai Chi lineage holder Chen Changxin (1771-1853) taught the Tai Chi techniques to the first non-Chen family student Yang Luchan (the founder of the Yang Style Tai Chi), then the Chen lineage holder Chen Qingping (1795-1868) taught Wu Yuxiang (the founder of the Wu Style Tai Chi), Tai Chi had always been practiced and passed on inside of the Chen family. Yang Luchan made to the first lineage holder of the Yang Style Tai Chi. The Tai Chi Styles of He, Wu, and Sun were also branched out of the original Chen Style Tai Chi. The 48 position Chen Style Tai Chi taught by Master YeYoung emphasizes the lineage teaching of the 83 original positions from the revered seventeenth generation, the ninth Chen family style lineage holder and Grand Master Chen Fake (1887-1957), and his son, Grand Master Chen Zhaokui (1928-1980), the eighteenth generation, tenth lineage holder. This Tai Chi technique embodies the best method to enhance both of the internal and external energy flows.

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