Qigong is defined as the skill of physical and mental training which integrates the functions of the body, breathing and the mind. (Zhou 2009:4). A qigong practitioner trains the mind, vital energy and body to keep healthy and to prevent sickness.
Qigong has a very long history. It has been called tuna (adjustment of breathing), daoyin (physical and breathing exercise), zuochan (sitting in meditation), or neigong (internal exercise) (Zhou 2009:4). A long history implies that qigong has been practiced by large number of practitioners and suggests that the practice of the art may vary slightly between different styles of wushu practitioners. Variation may also have been influenced by the practitioner’s association with prominent religions like Daoism and Buddhism. Wushu exercises like Shaolin kungfu’s internal exercises are closely related to neigong (internal work) training for tai chi and with tai chi movements performed in the practice of qigong.
In 2003, the Chinese Health Qigong Association officially recognized four health qigong forms:
1. Eight Pieces of Brocade (Ba Duan Jin)
2. Muscle-Tendon Change Classic (Yi Jin Jing)
3. Five Animals (Wu Qin Xi)
4. Six Healing Sounds (Lui Zi Jue)
In 2010, the Chinese Health Qigong Association officially recognised five additional qigong forms:
1. Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang: a tai chi form
2. Shi Er Duan Jin: seated exercises for the neck, shoulders, waist and legs.
3. Daoyin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa: 12 routines of guiding and pulling Qi.
4. Mawangdui Daoyin: Guiding Qi along the meridians with synchronous movement and awareness.
5. Da Wu: Choreographed exercises to lubricate joints and guide Qi
Other commonly practiced Qigong forms include Soaring Crane Qigong, Pan Gu Mystical Qigong, Wild Goose Qigong, Dragon and Tiger Qigong, and Primordial Qigong.
The principles governing the practice of qigong include:
1. Intentional Movement
2. Rhythmic breathing
6. Solid Stance
8. Balance and counterbalance
The goals governing qigong include:
1. Equanimity – more fluid, more relaxed.
2. Tranquillity – empty mind, high awareness.
3. Stillness – diminishing movements eventuating in stillness.
Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming introduced qigong massage as a highly effective healing therapy that can be utilised to improve health, slow the aging process and treat illness and stress.
Qigong is an important component in Chinese medicine. Professor Lu Ming, Emeritus Professor Martin Schweizer and Hu Jun in their book Qigong in Chinese Medicine give a thorough account of qigong history, theories, exercises and treatments.
As a health concept, qigong professes to help people become healthy, calm and harmonious. Benefits of practicing qigong include:
1. Preventing illness
2. Improving the state of mind.
3. Improving the cardiovascular system and respiratory system.
4. Improving the digestive system.
Zhou, Qingjie, 2009. 10 Minute Primer QIGONG. Foreign Language Press, China.
Ming Lui, Schweizer Martin, Jun Hu, 2011. QiGong in Chinese Medicine. People’s Medical Publishing House, China.
Yang,Jwing-Ming 2005. Qigong Massage. YMAA Publication Centre , USA.
Qigong. viewed 21March 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qigong
Chinese Health Qigong Association. Qigong. Viewed 21March 2012,. http://jsqg.sport.org.cn/en/index.html