QIGONG AND GENTLE PHYSICAL EXERCISE
You have said in your writing that many people practice gentle physical exercise but think it is qigong. Can you tell us the difference between gentle physical exercise and qigong?
— Nicolas, Spain
Many people today practice qigong techniques as gentle physical exercise but think that they practice qigong, spelt as "chi kung" in English. A common analogy is that many people today practice Taijiquan techniques as external form but think that they practice Taijiquan. As a rough estimate, more than 80% of practitioners all over the world today use chi kung techniques to practice gentle physical exercise.
Gentle physical exercises works only on the physcial body, but genuine chi kung works on the physical body, energy and mind. Genuine chi kung is triple cultivation.
Working on the physical body can provide loosening of muscles and joints, balance and relaxation, but it cannot overcomne illness, maintain good health, increase vitality, promote longevity, enhance peak performance and provide happinessness and peace, but genuine chi kung can. Hence, those who practice gentle physcial exercise, but mistakenly call it chi kung, may have elegance and balance, but they cannot overcome illness, and have other chi kung benefits.
The techniques practitioners use in their practice of gentle physical exercise are chi kung techniques. Some common techniques they use are "Lifting the Sky" and "Carrying the Moon", which are taken from the sets of chi kung called 18 Lohan Hands or from 8 Pieces of Brocade. As they only practice gentle physcial exercise although they call it chi kung, they do not derive any chi kung benefits like good health, vitality and longevity. If they have good health, vitality and longevity, it is because of other reasons, and not because of their practice.
Most of the practitioners do not know this fact, and they may indignantly say that theirs is genuine chi kung. Some of the practitioners are world-known "masters" and hold important posts in chi kung associations. Certainly, making such a statement may anger some people, but it is just the truth.
There are many reasons why genuine chi kung degenerated into gentle physical exercise. A main reason is that genuine chi kung was rare in the past, but suddenly it became popular. Much of the popular chi kung used form to generate an energy flow. In other words, practitioners practiced chi kung forms many times, and gradually generated some energy flow. Over time, the skill of generating an energy flow was lost, and only the external form remained, especially when practitioners did not differentiate between skills and techniques.
This situation of performing chi kung techniques as gentle physical exercise and not as chi kung, may cause many problems. Chi kung practitioners in general do not realize that they do not practice genuine chi kung, even though their lineages and techniques are genuine. Hence, they do not derive any chi kung benefits.
Secondly, when researchers want to conduct experiments on chi kung, they normally approach chi kung associations or national federations. These associations and federations are controlled by office bearers who practice gentle physical exercise using chi kung techniques, usually without their knowing. Hence, the result of such experiences do not reveal what genuine chi kung can do.
The above is taken from Question 1 January 2019 Part 1 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.
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