History of Chinese Qigong
The History of Chinese Qigong practice spans over at least three millennia, during which the art has been being gradually refined and applied to the many areas of our lives. It grew a long way from its shamanic roots into a rigorous study only recently confirming of its efficacy and nature by the modern scientific body.
While some claim the art was important at least 7,000 years ago based on findings on turtle-shell artifacts and stone acupuncture probes, the first documented book that references Qi and survived to this day is probably the "Book of Changes" (I Ching) dated 1122 B.C. I Ching describes the study of the relationships between the three natural forces or energies: Heaven (Tian), Earth (Di), and Human (Ren).
In his classic "Tao Te Ching" during the Jou Dynasty between 1122 to 934 B.C. , Lao Tzu stressed the importance of concentrating Qi and achieving softness to obtain health. Also we find description of breathing methods in the Historical Records during the Warring States Period, 770 to 221 B.C. Another ancient link to early cultivation of Qi is the book by a Taoist philosopher, Juang Tzu, "Nan Hwa Ching." It says that "the men of old breathed clear down to their heels..." About 2,000 years ago, during the Qin and Han Dynsties, 221 B.C. to 220 A.D., the "Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine" systematically describes Qigong practice in medical applications, and describes the use of breathing to increase circulation of Qi. Similarly, "Prescriptions from the Golden Chamber" by Chang Jong-Jiing discusses the use of breathing and acupuncture to maintain good Qi flow.
Qigong practices evolved markedly during the Eastern Han dynasty (c. 58 A.D.) as Buddhism was imported to China, and so were many Buddhist meditation and Qi cultivation practices. This type of training was mainly spiritual in nature, and directed towards attaining Buddhahood, and kept secret. Prior to the introduction of Buddhism to China, the scholarly and medical Qigong had been mainly concerned with maintaining and improving health, while the newly imported religious Qigong aimed to obtain deeper control of the body, mind, and spirit, and had the goal of attaining enlightenment, and thus, end the cycles of reincarnation.
The medical Qigong around the same period was also advancing with the help of ingenious and dedicated physicians and scholars of the time. Hua Tuo used acupuncture for anesthesia in surgery during the Jin dynasty in the third century A.D. and Jun Qian developed the famous Wu Qin Xi (Five Animal Frolics) Qigong exercise based on the movements of animals to help to increase Qi circulation and improve health. Moreover, Ge Hong talked about using the mind to lead and increase Qi in his book Bao Pu Zi. Lastly, "Records of Nourishing the Body and Extending Life" (Yang Shen Yan Ming Lu) compiled by Tao Hong-Jing sometime between 420 to 581 A.D., described many Qigong techniques.
A new chapter in Qigong training opened up during the Liang dynasty, 502-557 A.D., when the emperor invited an Indian Buddhist monk Da Mo (Bodhidharma) to preach Buddhism in China, who ended up at the Shaolin Temple and developed Yi Jin Jing , the Muscle/Tendon Changing Classic and Xi Sui Jing, the Marrow/Brain Washing Classic. These practices taught the priests how to transform their health by making their physical bodies strong. The Xi Sui Jing practice focused on using the Qi to clean the bone marrow and strengthening the blood and immune system, in addition to energizing the brain to help attain enlightenment. Shaolin martial arts greatly benefited at the time and increased their effectiveness when the Yi Jin Jing training was integrated into the Shaolin training. Around the same time, the Shaolin monks also developed the five animal styles of martial arts: the Tiger, Crane, Leopard, Snake, and Dragon, which imitated the different animals in the way they move and fight.
The development of Qigong also continued outside of the monastery during the Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907 A.D.) and was also used for medical applications and to promote health. During this period we find that Chao Yuan-Fang compiled an "encyclopedia" of Qigong methods listing 260 different ways of increasing the Qi flow, the Thesis on the Origins and Symptoms of Various Diseases (Zhu Bing Yuan Hou Lun). In addition, while the Buddhist monks and Daoist priests had already been using the Six Sounds to regulate Qi in the internal organs for some time, Sun Si Mao described the methods of leading Qi and the use of the Six Sounds in the Thousand Gold Prescriptions (The Qian Jin Fang). He also introduced a massage system called Lao Zi's 49 Massage Techniques. Moreover, Wang Tao, in his Extra Important Secret (Wai Tai Mi Yao), discussed the use of breathing and herbal therapies for disorders of Qi circulation.
Sometime during the Song dynasty (960-1279 A.D.), Chang San-Feng is believed to have developed Taijiquan (or Tai Chi Chuan). Taiji emphasizes Nei Dan (Internal Elixir) Qigong training.
In 1026 A.D., Dr. Wang Wei Yi designed and built the famous brass man of acupuncture, systemizing the acupuncture theory, principles, and treatment techniques. When Dr. Wang built his brass man, he also wrote the Illustration of the Brass Man Acupuncture and Moxibustion (Tong Ren Yu Xue Zhen Jiu Tu), where he explained the relationship of the 12 organs and the 12 Qi channels, and clarified many of the acupuncture points. After Dr. Wang had used acupuncture to cure the emperor Ren Zong in 1034 A.D., the support of acupuncture flourished in the imperial court. The emperor built a temple to Bian Que, the author of the Nan Jing, in order to encourage acupuncture medical research, and worshiped him as the ancestor of acupuncture. At the time, acupuncture technology developed so much that even the Jin race in the distant North requested the brass man and other acupuncture technology as a condition for peace. Between 1102 to 1106 A.D., Dr. Wang dissected the bodies of prisoners adding more information to the Nan Jing. His work contributed greatly to the advancement of Qigong and Chinese medicine by giving a clear and systematic theory of the circulation of Qi in the human body.
Later, during the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279 A.D.), General Yue Fei was credited with creating several internal Qigong exercises and martial arts, including the Eight Pieces of Silk Brocade in order to to improve the health of his soldiers. He is also said to have created the internal martial art style, Xing Yi (Hsing-I). Some also claim that Yue Fei was the creator of the Eagle style of martial arts.
Many new Qigong styles were founded from the end of the Southern Song dynasty period until the end of the Qing dynasty (1911 A.D.), including the Tiger Step Gong (Hu Bu Gong), the Twelve Postures (Shi Er Zhuang), and the Beggar Qigong (Jiao Hua Gong). Also, there were published many documents related to Qigong during this period, such as The Secret Important Document of Body Protection (Bao Shen Mi Yao) by Cao Yuan-Bai, describing moving and stationary Qigong practices, and the Brief Introduction to Nourishing the Body (Yang Shen Fu Yu) by Chen Ji Ru, discussing the Three Treasures: Jing (essence), Qi (internal energy), and Shen (spirit).
During the same period, Wang FanAn reviewed and summarized the previously published materials in the Total Introduction to Medical Prescriptions (Yi Fan Ji Jie). Also, Wang ZuYuan presented the Twelve Pieces of Silk Brocade and explained the idea of combining both moving and stationary Qigong in his Illustrated Explanation of Nei Gong (Nei Gong Tu Shuo).
During the Qing dynasty (1644-1911 A.D.), Tibetan meditation and martial techniques became widespread in China for the first time. Also during this period, the popular and highly respected internal martial art style Ba Gua Zhang (Eight Trigrams Palm) is believed to have been developed by Dong Hai-Chuan.
Since the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1911 and the founding of the Chinese Republic, Western culture now has great influence on the Orient, and so Qigong practice has entered a new era. Various Qigong styles are now being taught openly, and many formerly secret documents are being published. People now have the opportunity to study and understand many different styles of Qigong, and Qigong now has reached much wider audience than ever before. This rapid growth of Qigong is put on hold when the Communist Party and Red Guards suppressed Qigong during the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1965-76) only to begin to make a comeback in about 1978 and see an upsurge of interest by the 1980s. Today, millions of Chinese people practice Qigong every day. Some do this to heal an existing illness, while others aim to stay healthy. Still others want to feel and perform better, experience higher levels of energy and stamina, and slow down the aging process. Qigong has been found especially effective at preventing disease, and treating chronic conditions.
Now Qigong is becoming rapidly more popular in the West, especially in North America, where psychological, physiological and medical researchers are studying Qigong with increasing interest.
|Qigong History Timeline|
|2690 to 2590 B.C.||Stone probes (Bian Shi) used to adjust Qi circulation. Oracle bone/shell scripture of religious/shamanic nature.|
|1122 B.C.||"Book of Changes" (I Ching) describes the study of the relationships between the three natural forces.|
|1122 to 934 B.C.||"Tao Te Ching" - Lao Tzu stresses the importance of concentrating Qi and achieving softness to obtain health.|
|770 to 221 B.C.||"Historical Records" contain description of breathing methods.|
|770 to 221 B.C.||"Nan Hwa Ching" - Juang Tzu describes methods of Qi cultivation.|
|221 B.C. to 220 A.D.||"Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine" systematically describes Qigong practice in medical applications, and the use of breathwork to improve circulation of Qi.|
|221 B.C. to 220 A.D.||"Prescriptions from the Golden Chamber" - Chang Jong-Jiing discusses the use of breathing and acupuncture to maintain good Qi flow.|
|c. 58 A.D.||Buddhism is imported to China, and with it many Buddhist meditation and Qi cultivation practices.|
|3rd century A.D.||Hua Tuo uses acupuncture for anesthesia in surgery.|
|3rd century A.D.||Jun Qian developes Wu Qin Xi (Five Animal Frolics) Qigong exercise.|
|3rd century A.D.||"Bao Pu Zi" - Ge Hong talks about using the mind to lead and increase Qi.|
|420 to 581 A.D.||"Records of Nourishing the Body and Extending Life" - Tao Hong-Jing describes many Qigong techniques.|
|502 to 557 A.D.||Da Mo (Bodhidharma) invited to preach Buddhism in China, credited with development of Yi Jin Jing , the Muscle/Tendon Changing Classic and Xi Sui Jing, the Marrow/Brain Washing Classic at the Shaolin Temple.|
|581 to 907 A.D.||"Thesis on the Origins and Symptoms of Various Diseases" - Chao Yuan-Fang compiles an encyclopedia of Qigong methods lists 260 different ways of increasing Qi circulation.|
|581 to 907 A.D.||"Thousand Gold Prescriptions" (Qian Jin Fang) - Sun Si-Mao describes methods of leading Qi, and the use of the Six Healing Sounds.|
|581 to 907 A.D.||"The Extra Important Secret" (Wai Tai Mi Yao) - Wang Tao discusses the use of breathwork and herbal remedies for disorders of Qi circulation.|
|960 to 1279 A.D.||Chang San-Feng credited with developing Taijiquan (or Tai Chi Chuan), which emphasizes Nei Dan (Internal Elixir) Qigong training.|
|1026 A.D.||Dr. Wang Wei-Yi designes and buids the acupuncture brass man. Illustration of the Brass Man Acupuncture and Moxibustion - systemizes and explains the relationship of the 12 organs and the 12 Qi meridians (channels).|
|1034 A.D.||Dr. Wang Wei-Yi cures emperor Ren Zong with acupuncture - acupuncture flourishes with the emperor's support.|
|1127 to 1279 A.D.||General Yue Fei credited with development of the Eight Pieces of Brocade Qigong exercise and the internal martial art Hsing Yi.|
|960 to 1368 A.D.||"Life Nourishing Secrets" (Yang Shen Jue) - Zhang An-Dao discusses several Qigong practices.|
|960 to 1368 A.D.||"The Confucian Point of View" (Ru Men Shi Shi) - Zhang Zi-He describes using Qigong to cure external injuries ( e.g.: cuts and sprains).|
|960 to 1368 A.D.||"Secret Library of the Orchid Room" (Lan Shi Mi Cang) - Li Guo describes the use of Qigong and herbal therapies for internal disorders.|
|960 to 1368 A.D.||"A Further Thesis of Complete Study" (Ge Zhi Yu Lun) - Zhu Dan-Xi puts forth a theoretical analysis of using Qigong in medical applications.|
|1367 to 1911 A.D.||Many Qigong styles are developed, including Tiger Step Gong (Hu Bu Gong), Twelve Standing Postures (Shi Er Zhuang) and Beggar Gong (Jiao Hua Gong).|
|1367 to 1911 A.D.||"The Secret Important Document of Body Protection" (Bao Shen Mi Yao) - describes moving and standing Qigong practices.|
|1367 to 1911 A.D.||"Brief Introduction to Nourishing the Body" (Yang Shen Fu Yu) - Chen Ji Ru discusses the three treasures: Jing (essence), Qi (vital energy), and Shen (spirit).|
|c. 1640 A.D.||Fire Dragon Gong (Huo Long Gong)- a martial Qigong style developed by the TaiYang martial art practitioners.|
|1644 to 1911 A.D.||Dong Hai-Chuan credited with developing of the internal martial art style Ba Gua Zhang (Eight Trigrams Palm).|
|1912 A.D. - 1964||China opens up to the West - various Qigong styles are now taught openly, and many secret documents are being published and enter mainstream.|
|1965 to 1976||Qigong and Religious supression during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Many documents get destroyed.|
|1978 to Present||Renewed interest in Qigong to prevent, treat and cure an disease. Others practice perform better, develop more energy and stamina, and longevity.|