Lesson 5 – The types and methods of Qi Gong
Soft and hard, internal and external Qi Gong
A note By Master Kongling – Until recently (as for many Kung Fu styles) the practice of Qi Gong was generally kept secret (especially in the field of martial arts or religions such as Buddhism and Taoism): the general public knew “only” notions about acupuncture and some basic body health exercise. The history of this art is very ancient but only in 1953, when Liu Gui-zheng published “Practice on Qi Gong therapy”, the term Qi Gong (or Chi Kung) was adopted. Prior to that date, there were a lot of names given to those practices (Daoyin, Xinggon, Liandan, Xuangong, Jinggon, Xingqi, Dinggong, Neigong, Xiudao, Neiyangong, Yangshengong, Zhoshan and so on) but only a few people had a clear vision of what it really was.
In many cases, Qi Gong is divided into 3 categories (medical, martial and spiritual) but the most practical distinction is instead between:
- Soft Qi Gong (for a wellness / health purpose) – It is made to enhance spiritual, mental and physical health through meditation and light controlled movements
- Hard Qi Gong (for a martial purpose) – It is made for martial arts, it enhances body conditioning (strengthening, fighting capabilities, etc.)
As for the exercises they can instead be divided in:
- Internal – Quiet, motionless meditation trough internal concentration and regulation of breathing
- External – Movements of the limbs / body under the conscious direction of the mind
A note by Master Kongling – Of course, the external exercises, if performed with the correct internal predisposition lead to a higher quality result: let’s see how.
The main Qi Gong methods
The commonality of all types of Qi Gong is in their purposes:
- Regulating the body (through correct and balanced postures)
- Regulating the mind (through quiet, relaxation and focus)
- Regulating the breath (through self-massage and movement of the limbs)
A note by Master Kongling – The mind must be completely free and open to incorporate everything without distortion or anxiety. There is no thought of self or other, there is no emotional state of fear or desire. The mind and body, internal and external, are in such complete harmony, to include struggle and death.
- How to start to regulate the body – If on one side is true that perfect motion, stances (etc.) are totally out of the range of a beginner practitioner, it is also true that the posture should be (at least) natural and relaxed (even from the first moment); as for meditation, if you force yourself in stances that are not suitable to your preparation level, you will focus on the discomfort instead of reaching a quiet state (only at an advanced level, you will benefit from a more correct practice and reach higher results)
- How to start to regulate the mind – To learn how to focus and regulate your mind you have to start avoiding to get disturbed by unwanted thoughts (initially it is very difficult); to help yourself, you can concentrate on your lower dan tien (that point about one inch below the navel, read The 10 principles of Tai Chi) or on the act of breathing itself (read Meditation method 1); with the time, you have to gradually reduce the normal awareness to the external stimuli (read Avert dangers: the concept of constant attention); at an advanced level you should lose the sense of spatial dislocation and even of your own weight (until reaching a state in which you are conscious and not conscious, aware and not aware)
- How to start to regulate the breath – We have already spoken about breathing in Chapter 4 and what we said remains valid; the first thing is to change our breathing method from thoracic to abdominal (and then to diaphragmatic, read Lesson 4.4); in addition to this your respiration should gradually become deeper, longer (in terms of time) and slower (in terms of speed) but without forcing you to a condition of disease
Try to perform the exercise proposed in the past lesson (read Lesson 8.4) following these tips: the more you become able to follow these indications, the more your cerebral cortex will enter in the necessary quiet state and the better you will be able to work on your Qi.
Later, in this course, we will have other chances of deepening the Qi Gong topic (for now, we have limited to start mentioning).
- Diaphragmatic breathing – How diaphragmatic breathing works and why it is effective
- Become the absolute zero – The higher level of mental detachment in combat
Reply in the comments and share your experience:
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Author: Master Kongling
Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.