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Qigong and the Five Animal Frolics

By Frank Simons

Imagine you had the magical ability to move your life force in any way you wished, using only the power of your mind. You could restore health, slow down aging, shield yourself against injury, or even launch an explosion of energy against an opponent and knock him out with barely a touch. In Chinese culture, this is called qigong. It’s not magic, but a discipline that involves developing the ability to sense the presence, absence, movement, and quality of a life energy known as qi—and, furthermore, to condition the mind to be able to seize control of the qi and move it where you want. In this lecture, you will explore this wider discipline of qi—how it is related to tai chi and how you can use it in your daily life.

Video Presentation
Essentials of Tai Chi and Qigong, Part 6, Qigong and the Five Animal Frolics
Thu, Jul 7, 5:30pm
Meditation Center
Callejón Blanco 4
Free, donations accepted
415 111 0644

Tai chi chuan is the form of qigong that is also a martial art. Unless there is a self-defense application, it’s not tai chi. Qigong is not only broader than tai chi chuan, it’s also much older. Qigong is the craft of working with qi. The word “qi” translates as “the life force” or “the spirit breath.” In modern Chinese, “qi” is often translated as “air” or “oxygen.” Qigong is central to understanding the tradition of tai chi. Many tai chi fans say the main benefit of tai chi practice is to develop control over qi—to refine your inner energy, circulate it, balance its flow throughout the body, develop control over its movement, and develop a keen sensitivity to its presence in yourself and others.

“Gong” is the Chinese word for “work.” Therefore, qigong is “breath work,” although in the field of internal healing and martial arts, we understand qigong to mean “energy exercises.” It’s a vast field with hundreds of different kinds of exercises that range from the short and simple to the extended and complex—all for the purpose of developing greater control over your inner life force.

Qigong practice has three categories: medical, martial, and spiritual. The largest is medical, which contains hundreds of exercises done to slow aging, prevent disease, and cure illness. Qigong uses a combination of breath control, body postures, muscle relaxation techniques, and mental imagery to guide the qi into proper circulation. Beyond medical uses, the “energy work” can be broadly separated into spiritual and martial, both relevant for tai chi practice. The goals of martial qigong are to strengthen the body to protect it from blows and to build up its qi so it can be used to strike others. All of tai chi and qigong can be looked at as training the mind to control the flow of qi.

The course is led by David-Dorian Ross, the founder and CEO of Taijifit. He has a BA in Human Movement Studies from San Francisco State University and has trained in China with championship martial arts coaches. Mr. Ross is the host of the PBS series T’ai Chi: Health and Happiness and the author of five books on health and wellness, including Exercising the Soul.

There will be an opportunity for discussion following the video.


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