An Introduction to Qi Gong

Qi Gong is the practice of improving the body’s ability to acquire and circulate energy, or "Qi", throughout the body.  Qi is actually a much broader concept than the term "energy" conveys.  Traditionally the Chinese did not assign the term "Qi" an absolute definition to encourage an open-minded approach to the concept.  Its Chinese character actually depicts steam rising off rice as it cooks.  More recently, it has been defined as "life force" or "vital-energy."  For our intents and purposes here, there are a few concepts that are important to understand.  First, although Qi may not be absolutely definable, it is tangible.  That is, an experienced Qi Gong practitioner can feel energy and its movement.  Second, blood and lymph follow Qi.  So, if we improve circulation of Qi to a particular point in the body, that means we are going to have increased circulation of blood and lymph to the affected area as well.

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A Medical and Physiological Study of the Health-Giving Effects of Ba Gua Zhang Practice

Taken from "The Art of Ba Gua Zhang" by Tom Bisio.

Ba Gua Zhang (Eight Diagram Palm) is a Wushu form with a relatively short history. Apart from its combative value, it has proved to be an effective means of preventing disease and promoting health and longevity. For this reason, it has gained widespread popularity among the Chinese people.

In order to make a medical and physiological study of the health giving effects of Ba Gua Zhang, a comprehensive research group was formed by 13 members of the teaching groups of Sports Physiology, Wushu, Sports Medicine and Anatomy at the Bejing Physical Culture Institute. Their research program involved 60 males ranging from 60 to 82 years of age who were divided into two groups: (1) the exercise group of 30 persons who practice Ba Gua Zhang regularly; and (2) the control group consisting of 30 healthy retired workers. They were given X-ray photographic examinations of the chest, waist and hips, as well as a number of medical physiological tests consisting of items such as range of movement of the spine and hip joints, breathing function, circulation function, the work capacity of muscles, eyesight, hearing, balancing ability, and circumferences of the limbs, Statistical treatments with BCMII type electronic computer of the data obtained showed clearly that the exercise group is better than the control group in all respects. This amply proves that regular practice of Ba Gua Zhang can promote health and slow down retrograde changes related to senility.

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Spring Cleaning and Reawakening

The principle of Wu Hsing describes the flow of Qi and the balance of Yin and Yang.  According to this principle, all change in the universe (macrocosm) and in your body (microcosm), occurs in five distinct phases.  Each of these phases is associated with a particular time of year, a specific phase of energy in nature, and specific organs in your body.  Change links together all aspects of nature, the seasons of the year, and your body’s organs and bodily processes. A practitioner of Ba Gua Zhang links together the state of the Qi whether stable, in excess, or in deficiency, to get an idea for physical, energetic and mental progression.  This includes specific movements, breathing and meditation practices, specific foods and herbs, acupuncture or acupressure and body work to restore and balance the state of Yin/Yang and Qi.      

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Application of San Bao (Three Treasures) to the Warm-Up Exercises

Our Warm-Up Exercises should be done before every workout and serve several crucial functions.  On the level of Jing (physical matter or essence), the Warm-Ups warm and prepare the body’s tendons and ligaments for movement, thus preventing pulled muscles and injury.  In terms of qi, these exercises directly engage not only the Zhang Fu meridians, but also activate the Qi Jing Ba Mai, or Eight Extraordinary meridians.  On the level of xin (heartmind, consciousness, or spirit) the Warm-Ups will sharpen the practitioner’s focus and direct intention where it is needed for each exercise.  All three levels of these San Bao or “Three Treasures” must be cultivated over years of practice in order to perform the Warm-Ups correctly.  While these movements may seem simple, they are in fact a very powerful set of Qigong.  When one becomes skilled in the Warm-Up set, it becomes a continuous and graceful form unto itself.  

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