What is chi kung?
Chi kung is the art of developing vital energy particularly for health, vitality, mind expansion and spiritual cultivation.
Is chi kung the same as qigong?
Yes, they are the same. "Chi kung" is the usual English spelling, whereas "qigong" is the Romanized Chinese spelling. In Romanized Chinese, q is pronounced like the English ch'; and o like the English u. Hence, both "chi kung" and qigong" should be pronounced like the English "ch'i gung".
Are there many types of chi kung?
Depending on how we would define "types", there are two, three, four, five, six, hundreds of or thousands of types of chi kung. Some people divide chi kung into two types: quiescent and dynamic, or internal and external. Some into three types: quiescent, dynamic, and quiescent- cum-dynamic. Others into four types: standing, sitting, lying down, and moving. Still others into five types: Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, medical, and martial. Some add populace chi kung to the five to make six types. There are various schools of chi kung, such as Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung, Shaolin Damo Chi Kung, Taiji Eighteen Steps Chi Kung, Flying Crane Chi Kung, Fragrance Chi Kung and so on. Sometimes, people may refer to different chi kung techniques as different types of chi kung, in which case there are thousands of them. Hence, it is understandable that there are also different levels of attainment in the various types of chi kung.
Is chi kung the same as Taijiquan?
They are different, although Taijiquan (if it is practised the way traditional masters practised it) makes extensive use of chi kung. Basically, Taijiquan is a martial art, whereas chi kung is a collective term for various arts of energy, which may or may not be used for martial art purposes. The movements of some chi kung types resemble those of Taijiquan, whereas many other chi kung movements are totally different from typical Taijiquan movements.
What are the benefits of practising chi kung?
There are many wonderful benefits derived from practising chi kung, and they may be generalized into the following five categories:
Curing illness and promoting health.
Enhancing vitality and developing internal force.
Promoting youthfulness and longevity.
Expanding the mind and the intellect.
Many chi kung types focus on only one or two of the above categories, but a few cover all the five. For example, most types of medical chi kung aim mainly at curing illness, virtually all sexual types of chi kung emphasize solely on youthfulness, whereas Shaolin Cosmos Chi Kung touches on all the above five categories of benefits.
What kinds of illness can practising chi kung overcome?
According to Chinese medical thought, practising chi kung can cure as well as prevent all kinds of illness, including diseases like asthma, diabetes, hypertension and cancer which are generally considered "incurable" by conventional medicine. Practising chi kung is also very effective for overcoming psychological problems. (Please see the following section.)
How does practising chi kung cure so-called incurable diseases?
One must, first of all, realise that the conventional medical paradigm is only one of many ways to look at health and illness, and it is not necessarily the only correct way. According to the Chinese medical paradigm, there is no such a thing as an incurable disease, although a patient may be incurable if his disease, even a simple one, has done damage beyond a certain threshold. No disease is incurable because it is our natural birth-right to overcome all types of diseases -- if our psychological and physiological systems are working the way they should work. Illness occurs only if one or more of these natural systems fail in their functions. When all our systems are functioning naturally, the Chinese figuratively describe this condition as harmonious chi flow, i.e. the energy flow that supplies the right information to every part of our body (and mind), that provides the right defence or immunity when needed, that repairs all our wear and tear, that channels away toxic waste and negative emotions, and that performs other countless things to keep as alive and healthy, is functioning the way it should. If this harmonious chi flow is disrupted, illness occurs. The forte of chi kung is to restore and enhance this harmonious chi flow, thus overcoming illness, irrespective of the labels one may use to define its symptoms, and promoting health, which the Chinese have always considered to be more important than curing diseases. It is significant to note that the claim of chi kung to overcome illness and promote health is not based just on the above philosophical explanation, but on thousands and thousands of practical cases.
How is chi kung related to kungfu?
All great kungfu makes use of energy training (which is chi kung) to develop internal force, without which it remains at its external, mechanical level, considered by Chinese martial artists as rough and low-class. Hence, a kungfu master may look, and actually is, gentle, yet with his internal force he can cause much damage to his opponent if he wishes. Moreover, his internal force does not diminish with age, and he can apply it for peaceful use in his daily living. Unlike in many other systems of martial arts where the training itself often results in physical as well as emotional injuries, kungfu training with chi kung enhances harmonious chi flow, thus promotes health, vitality and longevity.
How is chi kung related to Zen or meditation?
There are three aspects in all types of chi kung, namely form, energy and mind. If you practise only the form, without the energy and the mind dimensions, then you are merely performing physical exercise, strictly speaking not chi kung, for there is no training of energy. For an effective control of energy, you have to enter what is called in modern terms "a chi kung state of mind". In the past, this was called "entering Zen" or "entering silence". When you are in Zen or a meditative state of mind, you can, among other things, tap energy from the cosmos and direct the energy to flow to wherever you want in your body. It is this mind aspect of chi kung, even more than its energy aspect, that enables chi kung masters to perform what lay people would call miracles, or, depending on their attitude, fakery.