In ancient China, long before Taoists considered “ch’i” (qi) internal energy as a life energy source, ancient Taoists believed “breathing arts” held the secret to immortality as well as the gateway to advanced knowledge and special powers.
Taoist Breathing from Lesson 1
Originally the objective of all Taoist forms of contemplation and yoga had probably
been identical—the union of opposites within oneself in order that the mysterious light
of the indwelling Tao might be made manifest. It was held that the indivisibility of the
One and the many and the identity of opposites could be experienced by unaided
intuition, but that quietistic contemplation, helped by breath control and other physical
yogas, was of great assistance. The breathing yogas mentioned by Chuang Tzu, were
certainly of very ancient origin and, though virtually identical with those of the
Buddhists, they had probably been arrived at independently.
The works of both religions testify to similar results—sensations of pure light shining
from within, or experiences of thunder and lightening also coming from within,
followed by the direct perception of the hitherto veiled core of consciousness. For
highly talented adepts, contemplation alone was held to be means sufficient in itself,
the various breathing and alchemical yogas being supplementary aids.
—–From Blofeld, John, The Secret and Sublime: Taoist Mysteries and Magic
The basis of the “breathing arts” taught by Chi-Arts instructors is conscious control over the diaphragm, rather than mere “breathing” techniques. First, the student learns to control the shape and tension
of the diaphragm. In turn, the practitioner learns to use that position control and tension to willfully direct specific results. Second, the practice of “breathing arts” allows pressure to be directed to specific areas of the body for a variety of purposes. An example is directing
the pressure from the diaphragm to the organs of the lower torso, or to the lower back. In other examples, pressure from the diaphragm is directed, through a bio-mechanical links/ connection to other areas such
as the hips and, with sufficient training and safety protocols, to the shoulders, knees and other parts of the body such as the fingertips.