The Qigong You are Already Practicing…

art_standing4I seem to be getting lots of questions about qigong from our readers. Some of these questions are pretty sophisticated and others ask more about beginning practice. I thought it might help people to discuss a really broad view of qigong from the martial arts perspective that, classically, is one of the three main divisions of qigong practice. The other two are religious and what might best be called “scholarly” practice. And I should note right now that the term “Qigong” is pretty new, being created in the fifties. It covers a huge range of possibilities. It would be like saying the word “math” and meaning anything from arithmetic to vector calculus.

As I said, one of the three major forms of qigong is martial. There are two methods martial artists use to practice qigong. The first is within a system where the other practices like forms, basics and sparring are kept mostly separate from the qigong practice. For instance you might practice a form at full speed and power but then practice the qigong off to the side. This is generally more common in the older styles.

art_hidden6The second method is where the art and the qigong are blended. A good example of this is Tai Chi, where the normal martial movements have been culled to be the kinds of moves that are martial and qigong both. This means that a lot has to be thrown out, like jump kicks and rolling. This makes every movement a hybrid of martial and qigong goals.

art_survivors2My personal belief is that the real breakthrough started with styles like Xing Yi, where the martial actions and qigong were brought so close together that the blending period began.  For instance, in Xing  Yi you may do a martial movement and then stop and practice a qigong-ike stationary moment. At that moment you are, in essence,  doing something like qigong. On the next move you return to martial action.

Think of that as a string of alternating black and white pearls strung alternately.

Almost every martial art in China has some kind of qigong. If it doesn’t have a specific qigong, then it’s not really a Chinese martial art. And, of course, there is personality. The Qigong for Pigua consists, in part, of slapping-like actions; the Northern Shaolin Nei Gong has multiple “lock downs” and hard self-directed strikes. The Baji Qigong is recognizably Baji.

To understand martial vs. other qigongs you have to think of a waterline.

Presently, most of the qigong taught is pretty low level. It is under the waterline because it is, at best, health maintenance qigong.  In other words people recuperating from illness who are more or less aiming to regain their normal health.

art_predator1With qigong in martial arts it is assumed that you are at least normal or above normal. Otherwise, you would not be training. This qigong brings you to a higher level of skill and strength and, of course, some standard of health a little higher than normal.

If you are a martial artist and practicing a two-part method or the blended method, you should understand that you are already doing a sophisticated qigong. Many people ask, “Should I take Tai Chi and qigong?” I generally tell them that if they study or practice Tai Chi they don’t need to take qigong because they are already learning a higher level qigong than most teachers show.

The Tai Chi Classics remind us not to fixate on the far so much that we forget the near. You may already be practicing a Qigong in the movements and actions of your Kung Fu studies.

3 Responses to “The Qigong You are Already Practicing…”

  1. Charles Thompson Jr. says:

    Dear Shirfu, I am interested in the Xing Yi Qigong. I have never heard of the Xing Yi qigong, other than stationary Santishi posture.

    Can you expose any further Xing yi qigong. forgive me for my ignorance.

    Thank you


  2. David Langford says:

    Hello all! Just thought I’d chime in with my own experiences on this subject.

    My lineage of Southern Shaolin blends Qi Gong intrinsically into everything we do, so everything we do is Qi Gong. If we throw a punch as in the pattern Black Tiger Steals Heart we use Qi Gong skills. We are relaxed with a meditative state of mind, channeling our chi from our dantian into the strike itself for fa jing. This is not done in most systems and styles these days even at the higher levels. Too many secrets held too closely for too long.

    I’ve found that the Qi Gong most people practice today isn’t even Qi Gong but gentle physical exercise, they practice the techniques but do not practice the skills, the differentiation between skills and techniques is an important one. The mental clarity, radiant health and vitality, and tremendous power genuine Qi Gong cultivates is sadly absent in many practitioners I have met. At best they get some small health benefits, and a measure of relaxation.

    Besides our Kung fu itself being Qi Gong we have many other methods of cultivating jing, chi, and shen in various expressions including Zhan Zhuang, 18 Lohan Hands, 12 Sinew Metamorphosis, the skill of Bone Marrow Cleansing, Iron Wire, Yi Zhi Chan, Cosmos Palm or Cinnabar Palm, Golden Bell, Tiger Claws, and several others. Too much for any one person to specialize in really.

  3. This is something that I never understood concerning martial arts practice. Thanks once again for great information, Sifu Mancuso.

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