Qigong: What You Need to Know

Qigong is a subject that is quite extensive and fascinating to read. There are several thousand styles that have been developed. Some of them are the genuine thing originating in ancient China and a lot of them are ones that have tailgated on the real ones in the name of making a quick buck.

Did you know that over 3,000 types of Qigong exist in the world? Which Qigong lineage is best? What practice is most beneficial to overall health? Which teacher is the most authentic? Which one is right for you? An enormous variety of ancient Qigong forms survive, and contemporary forms are continually being invented to address particular interests. During the Chinese cultural revolution of 1966 – 1976 and other periods of history, Qigong was suppressed, it’s practitioners and masters imprisoned or killed. Yet the sacred lineages survive, handed down in a continuous chain from master to student, going back thousands of years.

The object of this post is a narrow one to help you in selecting a starting style for your own personal use. To do this, you need to study the sun-source of one that interests you or that has an excellent genealogy of origin. The styles below are a starting point of your search along with being a good selection for you to practice to see which one fits your life-style the best.

Source: James MacRitchie’s book “The Eight Extraordinary Meridians Qigong

It is strange to say that if you are a ‘Westerner’ you may be reading about Qigong for the first time, but if you are an ‘Easterner’ this will be as familiar as breathing, eating and walking.

How can this be, that part of the world knows about Qigong since earliest pre-history, and another major part of the world is now hearing about it for the first time? Being a Westerner myself I asked that question, and came up with
some remarkable answers. But, before proceeding, I should state that by ‘West’ and ‘East’ I do not mean geographical locations. These terms are used in the way they have commonly come to describe the cultures that developed from Greco-Roman tradition, and those that originated from China – they are used here in that general sense.

The three most surprising answers were:
First, this knowledge has been held in secrecy in China and the East – reserved for the aristocracy, monks, doctors, martial artists and the most privileged. It was taught by word of mouth. Everybody knew about it, but only the elite few knew how to do it. This was one of their most precious possessions, and a source of power and authority, and they guarded it jealously.

Secondly, there is no knowledge or understanding of the human Energy System in the West, there is no tradition or history – for a variety of questionable reasons. There is no equivalence to Acupuncture and the energetics of Oriental medicine, which forms the basis of Eastern health care, fitness and spirituality. There is nothing to compare it to in the West.

Thirdly, the organization and architecture of the mind and thought is different. The language and writing is different.
Quite simply, the East and the West think differently. And therefore the two traditions experience themselves, and their relationship to the world and nature, in different ways. In fact, it may be that the understanding of Qi/Energy is the primary difference between East and West.

The National Qigong Association says this about “certified instructors”: “Though certification is internal to the NQA as there is presently no national standard, it is supported by the full faith of our membership organization and may act to enhance and highlight one’s professional standing.

When looking at the qualifications of an instructor, when I see that they are certified by some local Western school or the like, it is an immediate red flag. It tells me that more than likely, this is a person who is a 90-day wonder graduate from some school whose main goal is to crank out students for a profit. IMHO, they lack the depth of knowledge of the ones like Chinese Taoist or Buddhist monks/priests or approved ones from the Chinese Government listed below to give you value for your money.

It is hope that this post will start you on a search with a modicum of knowledge that will assist you in making your choice. Otherwise, you will be just pouring your money down the drain and wasting your time.

In time, we will be adding more courses as they are already in the pipeline to be available soon as we can develop them. With each course, we will be including, at no extra charge to the course, bonus detailed books on each style if they are available to us.

money down the toilet
Money down the toilet

There are many resources on this site to help you get started. First, pick an author who has a long line of experience of being of Chinese Origin and/or who has had first-hand experience living and training there. A good place to start is our list of Master Authors. Daniel Reid was the author of the first books I read and which got me started a dozen years ago. I would highly recommend him and any of his books as a starting place to see what styles are recommended.

As a final note, don’t worry about making a “wrong” choice as most of them have a lot of benefits to offer and you’ll enjoy learning new things to improve your health. Sometimes, I take the best of several styles and pool them into one. It’s a win-win any way you look at it.

Here is a list of some of the major Qigong lineages that currently exist in the world. The Chinese Health Qigong Association recently recognized these Qigong forms:

  • Muscle-Tendon Change Classic (Yì Jīn Jīng 易筋經).
  • Five Animals (Wu Qin Xi 五禽戲).
  • Six Healing Sounds (Liu Zi Jue 六字訣).
  • Eight Pieces of Brocade (Ba Duan Jin 八段錦).
  • Tai Chi Yang Sheng Zhang (太極養生杖): a tai chi form from the stick tradition.
  • Shi Er Duan Jin (十二段錦): seated exercises to strengthen the neck, shoulders, waist, and legs.
  • Daoyin Yang Sheng Gong Shi Er Fa (導引養生功十二法): 12 routines from Daoyin tradition of guiding and pulling qi.
  • Mawangdui Daoyin (馬王堆導引术): guiding qi along the meridians with synchronous movement and awareness.
  • Da Wu (大舞): choreographed exercises to lubricate joints and guide qi.

Other commonly practiced Qigong styles and forms include:

  • Soaring Crane Qigong
  • Wisdom Healing Qigong
  • Pan Gu Mystical Qigong
  • Wild Goose (Dayan) Qigong
  • Dragon and Tiger Qigong
  • Primordial Qigong (Wujigong)
  • Zhang Zhuan (Standing Meditation, done in various postures)
  • Wu Xing-Five Organs (Tonifying each organ system.)
  • 3 Dantians (Swinging movement generated from the three centers of the body.)
  • Cloudy Hands (Arms movements which integrate other types of qigong)
  • Muscle Tendon Lengthening (The art of stretching)
  • Golden Ball (Moving qi around the dantian)
  • 8 Extraordinary Meridians (Exploring how qi moves around the surface of the body at the moment of birth)
  • Heaven & Earth (Micro/macro cosmic orbit, three dimensional pulsing & elasticity, usually symmetrical movement)
  • Spine training (Drawing qi into the spine for healing, power)
  • Chan Su Jing, (Silk Spinning –joint releasing & spiraling movements) go
  • Immortals Dancing in the Clouds (Includes Bone Marrow Washing, spherical movement)
  • Daoyin, An orthodox Daoist Lineage Hermit Practice.
  • Hunyuan (Prenatal movement rediscovered with an emphasis on the movement of fluids and the development of the qualities of empty and full.  Often asymmetrical.)
  • 8 Silken Brocades (8 Sinew lengthening and integrating movements)
  • Conditioning Techniques such as Iron shirt, Gold Bell, Iron palm.
  • Seated Qigong of various lineages.
  • Daoist meditation sometimes called Stillness Qigong.


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