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What is qigong?

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Post time: 2009-04-27 14:20:24
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Qigong (氣功 - pinyin: qì gōng, Wade-Giles: ch'i kung) is an increasingly popular aspect of Chinese medicine. Qigong is mostly taught for health maintenance purposes, but there are also some who teach it, especially in China, for therapeutic interventions. Various forms of traditional qigong are also widely taught in conjunction with Chinese martial arts.

There are many hundreds, if not thousands, of different styles and schools of qigong. In general, qigong schools teach their own variations of physical training routines based on coordinating different patterns of breathing with different physical motions of the body. Qigong relies on the traditional Chinese belief that the body has an energy field, known as Qi. Qi means breath or to breathe in Mandarin Chinese, and by extension the energy produced by breathing that keeps us alive; gong means work or technique. Qigong is then "breath work" or the art of managing the breath to achieve and maintain good health, and especially in the martial arts, to enhance the leverage and stamina of the body in coordination with the physical process of respiration.

Attitudes toward the basis of qigong vary markedly. One view which is one taken by most Western medical practitioners, many practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, as well as the Chinese government views qigong simply as a set of breathing and movement exercises, with many possible benefits to health through stress reduction and exercise. Others see qigong in more metaphysical terms, claiming that breathing and movement exercises can influence the fundamental forces of the universe. An extreme form of the latter view was advocated by some participants in the Boxer Rebellion of the late 19th century who believed that breathing and movement exercises would allow them to ward off bullets.

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