(AKA Qigong, Chi Kung, or Tai Chi)
Traditional Chinese Medicine, Part VI
The History of Qi Gong goes back into the shadows of antiquity. Archaeological evidence provides us with a system that was already well established nearly 3000 years ago. The “Jade Pendant Inscription on Qigong” is an engraving that explains qigong theory and practice, dating from the Zhou dynasty (600 BC). This shows that the practices of qigong were already one of the four branches of traditional Chinese Medicine by then.
Another well-known discovery is the “Dao Yin Illustrations” dating from the Han dynasty around 200 BC. This is a silk painting that shows a series of qigong postures with short descriptions of using the system therapeutically for illness.
Qi gong practices and exercises were mostly handed down through families or through monasteries where they were an integral practice of Taoist and Buddhist monks. Some of the most famous physicians in Chinese history were also qigong masters.
Tai Chi is probably the most well-known in the West of all the forms of qigong practice, and is possibly the most complicated of all the forms, requiring a teacher to learn it. However there are many other forms of qi gong that can be more easily learned and practiced almost immediately.
Today qigong research societies, hospitals and departments have been established to research, teach and use Qigong. Millions of people in China fill the city parks at 5:45 a.m., practicing together in groups the flowing movements of Taiji (Tai Chi); the stillness of other qi gong postures; or the peaceful practice of meditation and breathing techniques. By 7:30 a.m. the parks are again empty as the citizens head off to work or home, leaving only groups of the elderly playing chess or young mothers playing with their children.
They come together in this way pursue the elusive goal that is made possible through the practice of Chinese medicine: healthy old age.
Return from the History of Qi Gong to Introduction to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Part V: Asian Diet