So many people practice Chi Kung or are looking to practice Chi Kung today. Here are some of the experiences I had when first introduced to Chi Kung.
When I first started learning a martial art my choice was Kung Fu. At that time I had not heard of Tai Chi or Chi Kung. I am talking of the mid 70’s. At that time Bruce Lee was the only name talked about regarding Kung Fu.
Having found a suitable Master, I was soon hooked. One of the first things we were taught was an exercise our teacher called Isometrics. He called it that because at the time no-one knew what Chi Kung or Qi Gong meant. The exercise was a standing form of movements, of a traditional kind, closely linked to the Kung Fu style he taught, with the focus on using its internal development.
It was designed to stretch muscle, tendon, sinew and ligament. We were told how the Chi would permeate into the bone marrow which would help prevent serious illness. The breath was a very subtle yet important aspect. The development process of breathing progressed with time.
After many years of practice I not only found I was healthier and more relaxed, I also had gained an understanding of what this feeling of Chi was, and, that it was very important for progress in the Kung Fu style I was learning.
As the years passed I became aware that our teacher was also a Tai Chi Master, so I decided to start learning the art. His style was an old version of the Yang Style. He used the same Chi Kung (Isometrics) at the beginning of a Kung Fu session and at the end of the Tai Chi lesson.
Over a decade passed and still nothing much was mentioned by our teacher about the name ‘Chi Kung’; only, to do the exercise this way or breathe that way, stretch, relax, hold, and so on. After some time he told us the name of the form; it was called ‘Huang Kung’. As Tai Chi became more popular Chi Kung also became known. Then I realised while I was learning Tai Chi that I had been doing Chi Kung all along. Yet, it had only ever been called ‘isometrics’ ‘warm-ups’ or ‘basics’.
Around 1990, a few long-term students were taught another training form that would develop many aspects of our Tai Chi style. Even then it was not called Chi Kung, yet it was. It was not that our teacher was keeping us in the dark, it was just that chi kung was not yet clearly identified. I find it interesting however that we can gain as much from something by just doing it without really knowing all about it, at the same time doing it correctly is most important.
China has a rich history in Chi Kung; some forms are for increasing internal power for martial arts, some purely for better health and to aid in curing disease, some focus on flexibility and some styles can incorporate all in one.
There are so many different styles of Chi Kung that can serve this purpose or that, and it can make it a difficult choice of what style to do. Most styles of Chi Kung available today are safe and great for most people. There are also some styles that need special guidance because of their more complicated exploits such as ‘packing chi around the organs’ and more involved breathing techniques that require a master trainer in that field. Chi kung can come under many different names, depending mainly on its origins or its techniques.
My experience with Chi Kung practice is that it has been very beneficial to me with it being compatible with all the other practices that I did. Knowing what is suitable can be another issue, but I have found that choice usually depends on the individual preference or purpose. Chi kung practice today generally speaking, compliments Tai chi practice and has become very popular.
Chi Kung is an intrinsic part of Tai Chi and Kung Fu, has much depth, and very much worth the effort. Most forms are quite easy to do, yet at the same time need time to master. Philosophically speaking, it is not just what you know about your practice, it is important what you feel when you practice and what you gain from it. It is my hope that this article will give a perspective on Chi Kung practice and to help people who practice it or wish to, understand a little more about it.
Yours in Chi Kung,
Head Instructor :
Yueh Fei School of Kung fu &Tai Chi