"Qigong/ ch'i-kung" What it is and how we teach it
By John Bracy
Student practicing “Open the Shoulder Joints”
“Open the Shoulder Joints” is an ancient Taoist yoga exercise designed to release tension locked in the shoulders, neck and upper back. In terms of traditional Chinese medicine and Taoist yoga, it opens and balances six energetic lines (three yang and three yin) that travel from the core of the body into the arms.
Qigong (ch’i-kung) is not a single “energy” practice, but many. Although the word(s) Qigong (氣功) is modern (1949), aspects of the practice today called qigong can be found not only in the long shadows of China’s past, but in the present-day rituals of the Hawaiian shaman and the sacred ceremonies of the indigenous peoples of northeast America. Relatedly, the practice of sensing, cultivating, and transmuting “energy” within and around the body –– whether for healing or enlightenment –– is found not only in ancient Chinese practice, but in tantric Tibetan Buddhist and other traditions as well.
In a nutshell, Qigong concerns sensitivity to, and management of an experience related to sense perception that (is perceived to exist) in and around the body. Most practitioners refer to this something as “energy.”
Qigong is the art of interacting with that “energy.” There are mental (passive) and physical (active) ways of sensing and moving energy within the body. Passive practices are called neiguan or neishi. Those exercises focus one’s power of attention to a specific aspect of the body’s physiology (for example, the heartbeat and pulse). With practice, the practitioner learns to exert an influence over some aspects of one’s normally unconscious biological processes. There are physical yogas as well. Dao yin, yogic exercises of Taoist origin, are among the oldest physical yogas in the world. Their purpose is to blend and infuse the practitioner’s nei qi –– internal qi-energy –– into the sinews, bones, and tissues. The goal: return body and mind to a pristine state of health called Earlier Heaven.
Types of Training Offered
· In Person Training (Depending on Location/ see instructor list)
· On-line Training (Groups meet weekly / private or semi-private on-line training)
· Video Lesson Training // LIST OF VIDEO LESSONS NOW IN PRODUCTION…. CHECK BACK FOR COOL STUFF
Our Training Programs
1. Basic Skills [Start your free training today]– LIST OF PAGES TO GO HERE
a. Sensing one’s Energy Field
b. Learning to sense “energy” in and around the body [Go to Free on-line training and Videos]
c. Sensing and working with the pulse. [See excerpt from John Bracy’s new book]
2. Intermediate Skills
Manipulating the flow of energy within the body through posture and Taoist yoga (daoyin) [Go Taoist yoga / Daoyin pages]
3. Advanced Level Increased levels of conscious control over the flow of energy within the body/ Study of healing arts and self-healing prescriptive exercises
What we Teach
The cornerstone of our association’s qigong program is formed around the rule thatinternal energy training, whether for health, martial arts, or spiritual training, cannot be separated from the physical. The rule is that physical form cannot be separated from “energy,” and “energy” from form.
An example of this principle is found in sitting qigong (energetic) meditation. Consistent with Dudjom Rinpoche’s instruction that precedes this section, we teach our students to be sure that they are not ‘sitting” on their tailbone. (More common of a problem than one would think) and that the body is held straight so that “energy” within the important channels can move freely.
Similar rules regarding the relationship between energy and form apply to the martial artist. Our martial art programs focus on movements that train the body to be light and dexterous yet be able at the same time to present effective power as needed. To accomplish this, the student learns to master specific bio-mechanical skills, pay attention to body rhythms while under stress, and, most importantly, remain calm when under attack. The result is a special type of “soft” power that is characteristic of the internal martial arts.
The practice of extending energy from the body’s energy centers (such as the dan tian of the lower abdomen) into one’s hands and fingers, whether as martial art, self-healing, or healing-of-others (such as energetic massage), one’s body structure and body habits must be correct. Bad habits block the optimum flow of energy.
The principle of energy following form pertains to every aspect of “qi-energy” training. An example is found with the t’ai-chi master who understands how correct knee angle influences not one’s body structure but is the secret to the lost true art of t’ai-chi as a close combat system. Sometimes by comparing the posture habits of past generation internal martial art masters one can see important principles are lost in the present generation. For example, at the left of the photo of the three t’ai-chi /taijquan practitionrs, the famous master, Fu Zhongwen demonstrates how a line of tension that is channeled by the front knee pulling back into the body (and not “pointy-knee”) directs a line of energy and tension that becomes visually apparent in the master’s forward open palm. Comparison with the other two practitioners in the photo show how this understanding is often not transmitted to later generations.
Advanced Practice: Fine tuning and Increased control over the flow of energy in and around the body
Photo of three t’ai-chi chuan practitioners. At far left is Mastr Fu Zhongwen, Yang Chen-fu’s senior student.
“Look at Moon” Another example of Taoist yoga / Daoyin
[Go to Taoist Yoga pages]