What is Chi Kung?
Chi Kung are sets of exercises dating back thousands of years. Early references date back to the time of the Yellow Emperor Chin Shih Huang Ti (2690-2590BC). He commanded that exercises be taught to the people to strengthen and protect them from illness.
Chinese culture has three main philosophies as its base; Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. Each of these has it’s own way or path to enlightenment and uses various “exercises and practices” to achieve this.
In the 6th century BC Lao Tzu, The Old Man, describes breathing techniques in the Tao Te Ching. In the third century AD, the famous physician Hua To created the five Animal Frolics or Wu Chin Si. These exercises were based on the movements of the tiger, deer, monkey, bear and bird. In 300BC Chuang Tzu talked of the men of old who breathed through their heels. The Indian Ta Mo, a Buddhist monk arrived at the Shaolin Temple in Henan Province circa 530 AD and seeing that the monks were in poor physical and mental condition, so he retired to a cave in the mountain above the temple and meditated for nine years. He emerged with two books he had written, the Yi Jin Jing or Muscle and Tendon Changing Classic and the Yi Gin Ching or Marrow Washing Classic. The Shaolin Monks used these methods to strengthen themselves and incorporated them into martial arts systems. The Shaolin Monks developed these methods into five martial systems based on the movements of the tiger, leopard, dragon, snake and crane. Over the centuries many other methods of chi kung practice were developed, many of them for medical or health purposes such as curing injuries and guiding the chi for better health. In the Sung Dynasty, General Yueh Fai created what is today known as the Ba Duan Jin or Eight Pieces of Brocade and the Martial system Hsing I. In the Ching Dynasty (1644-1911) an internal system called Ba Gua Zhang which uses the circular movement of the chi came into being.
The Ba Duan Jin set is the simplest and easiest to begin with and helps to balance the body and maintain health.
Shaolin Chi Kung is for martial ability and creates strength and flexibility and is more difficult to do. There are twelve positions. This may be called intermediate Chi Kung.
Advanced chi kung is using the mind to move the chi while sitting mainly in the Lotus posture. This may be called advanced Chi Kung.
When starting to practice Chi Kung, one must begin with the basics such as correct stance, body alignment and breathing. In the beginning the practitioner must use muscular effort and energy, but after a while that will begin to change. When we first start to practice it takes a lot of effort and diligence. To achieve a level of mastery may take many years, but it all depends on the ability and dedication of the practitioner.
How does it work?
Chi is the interface between the consciousness and the physical body. The material body and its functions come from chi. Chi is not energy but a product of chi function. In physics, energy is a product of a process not a thing.
Chi Kung is a method to bypass or close off the use of energy in the body. The reason for doing this is so that the consciousness may appear and allow the chi to function in the body without energy. Energy and matter are linked by light to produce the material form. Energy functions in matter, whereas chi flows in the consciousness. Sensation cheats the consciousness, but by using the consciousness we can understand that sensation is not real. The consciousness and the material work together to produce energy which functions in matter. The physical body is the manifestation of chi. Working with the chi to correct and balance, will give correct material manifestation and function.
The above is the ideal we must aspire to.