Chi Kung is the ancient art of energy cultivation, perhaps the easiest way to think of it, is as energy management. The key hallmarks of Chi Kung are that it uses breath, movement and mind training to deliver the benefits of health vitality and mental clarity.
Developed in China over thousands of years, it has been advanced for all manner of applications and by all three of the major philosophies prevalent in China, namely Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.
Some of the applications are as follows:
- Overcoming illness
- Developing health
- Building longevity
- Improving intellectual ability
- Enhancing martial ability
- Improving sexual performance
- Deepening spiritual practice
So it’s not surprising that over the centuries many different styles of Chi Kung have flourished. Below I’m going to list some of the most famous to help broaden our understanding of this incredible art.
1- The 18 Lohans
Bodhidarma was an Indian monk who travelled to China to spread Chan buddhism around 1,500 years ago. Upon arriving at the Shaolin temple he found the monks had pursued meditation to the detriment of their bodies, they’d simply become weak. Bodhidarma informed the monks that if they had strong bodies they’d meditate better and so he taught them the 18 Lohans for health and strength. These movement later added the development of Shalin Kung Fu.
2- Sinew Metamorphosis- Yi Jin Jing
Bodhidarma had two other arts that he brought to Shaolin. One was sinew metamorphosis, and the other was bone marrow cleansing which is incredibly rare. Sinew metamorphosis however is incredibly well known in China, this is a subtle art that requires muscular contractions and effects the nervous system. The benefits include nurturing the bones, tendons and muscles, building internal force and clearing emotional blockages. It is has also been historically very popular with Shaolin monks for developing martial power.
3- Eight Pieces of Brocade
Thought to be of Taoist origin there are many similarities with the movements of the 18 Lohans, though also some notable differences. These exercise are so named because of the silken quality the give to the practitioner over the time, delivering gracefulness of movement, flexibility and agility. These movement are also incredibly popular in China and worldwide and are often used by many martial artists to improve their performance.
4- Wild Goose
Wild goose Chi Kung is a popular and comprehensive system that was brought to the public in 1978 by Grandmaster Yang Meijun, at a time when she was already 80 years old. She would incidentally go onto to live to 106 years of age. It’s a roughly 1,800 year old system that takes inspiration from the graceful flight and movement of wild geese. It also has strong connections to Taoist philosophy and aims to imbue flexibility, agility, gracefulness and longevity to its practitioners. Interestingly, it’s considered a movement based style of Chi Kung which prefers beautiful flowing movement, over conciseness and breath breath work to stimulate Chi flow through the body.
5- Shibashi- 18 movements
Created in 1982 by Tai Chi Master He Weiqi and Chi Kung Master and healer Lin Hou Sheng this set of exercises is hugely popular and combines movements of Yang style Tai Chi Chuan with traditional Chi Kung movements. The 18 movements are trained by millions of people world wide and are particularly popular in Indonesia and Malaysia. All though the movements were compiled relatively recently, the origin of the movements are in fact centuries old.
6- Five Animals
The legendary Chinese doctor and Chi Kung Master known as Hua Tuo created the Five Animal Play many centuries ago in ancient China. Hua Tuo was an exp
ert in the fields of Acupuncture, Moxibustion Herbal Medicine and even surgery. This was over 1,000 years before the West began developing in depth surgical practices.
Hua Tuo developed the 5 Animal Play to aid in his patients recovery from a host of medical issues. However, the movements are not just powerful from the perspective of healing, if you train them “on the daily” you can also build vibrant health and vitality as well as becoming a calmer and more happier dude or dudette.
The 5 Animals are as follows: Bird, Deer, Monkey, Tiger and Bear, each animal is said to correspond to the function of a specific internal organ.
7- Six Healing Sounds
The first person to write about the size healing sounds was renowned Taoist and Traditional Chinese medical expert Tao Honjing, 420-589 A.D. who wrote: “One has only one way for inhalation but six for exhalation.” It wasn’t until much later that Hu Wenhuan and Gao Lian wrote books on the subject this time combining movements with the six healing sounds, the exercise were developed for overcoming illness and for developing longevity.
Today there are a range of disciplines from China that also make use of sounds in their training, including various Chi kung styles and even some martial arts. Each of the sounds is said to correspond and therefore stimulate a specific internal organ, and practitioners may even feel these areas stimulated or gently vibrating when training.
8- Dragon and Tiger
Figuratively the Tiger represents strength and power and signifies strong liver function, the dragon signifies the ability of flight which is connected to strong lung function. Thus Dragon Tiger is said to give strong liver and lungs, as well as health and vitality generally.
This style became immensely popular due to the teachings of Zhang Jia Hua, who was famed for skill in using Chi Kung for healing purposes.It is said that she taught of 20,000 instructors who go to spread the style to over 20 million people in China. This in itself must have had a profound effect on the state of health for the country taking a tremendous strain of the countries health system. one of the reason for the systems popularity is it’s relative simplicity with just seven simple moves. Even though the movements are simple, Dragon Tiger it is said to deliver impressive results in health and vitality.
9- Daoyin yangsheng gong 12 method
Created by the Beijing Sport University, these movements are actually a selection of more than 50 sets of Daoyin exercises. No doubt the streamlining of the movements has made them much easier to spread and teach. Based on the meridian system it’s to be effective for three aspects of health. First, curative, it is said to be effective for curing various maladies. Second preventative, healthy people can use the movements and avoid possible future illness by improving the flexibility, blood flow and nervous system function. Third is recuperative, for example in aiding recovery from illness.
Is apparently one of the most popular forms of Chi Kung in China and grew in popularity because of it’s ability help seriously sick people recover and regain health. The style was first taught in Beijing by Master Zhao Jin-Xiang who later trained instructors to spread the art. This style obviously has movements that resemble the gracefulness of a crane and that are also relatively easy to learn. The system includes standing routines, moving and also lying down meditations. Said to instigate positive changes in the practitioner relatively quickly it thought to be one of the most effective forms of medical Chi Kung around today.
I hope this helps to broaden you knowledge and perspective on Chi Kung,