Excerpted from Qigong Fever: Body, Science, and Utopia in China by David A. Palmer
There were no officially sanctioned qigong activities in China until its rehabilitation in 1978, after the end of the Cultural Revolution. However, one woman, Guo Lin, an artist and cancer victim from Guangdong province who had cured herself by practicing qigong during the 1960s, was brave enough to teach other cancer patients in the parks of Beijing as early as 1970. Her ‘New Qigong Therapy’ inaugurated a new, collective form of qigong teaching and practice that would later be adopted by most qigong masters. Guo Lin can thus be said to have triggered the qigong wave of the 1980s.
Born near Zhongshan, Guangdong in 1909, Guo Lin was trained as a young girl in traditional body technologies by her paternal grandfather, a Taoist in Macau, where her family had fled following the 1911 revolution. Later, as a student of landscape painting, she visited several holy mountains; the breathing technique she used when climbing the steep slopes would become the basis for her future qigong method.
In 1949 Guo Lin was hit by uterine cancer, which was treated by hysterectomy. The cancer recurred in 1959 while she was teaching at the new Beijing Painting Academy. Guo Lin remembered the techniques that she had learned in her youth, and decided to practice them to treat her cancer.
Long before the invention of the blog, and even before the creation of the World Wide Web, there was Usenet. The world’s first electronic social network was established in 1980, and martial artists have been arguing there ever since.
Back in the late 1990s, I started reading the rec.martial-arts newsgroup as most people do, with posts sorted by discussion topic. I soon discovered that, since 90% of the replies on any given topic were rubbish, it made more sense to sort by author instead. Although I abandoned rec-martial arts years ago, due to its low-signal-to-noise ratio, I can still remember the names of some of my favorite writers. At the top of that list, I place the mysterious Ordosclan, also known as Turiyan Gold.
I don’t know Ordosclan’s real name, or his training history. I don’t know how many of his posts were written under the influence of anti-psychotic medication, as his critics claimed. Perhaps not enough of them.
Ordosclan’s martial arts commentaries were sagacious and entertaining, sometimes cryptic and unfortunately brusque. In honor of Black Belt Mama’s Admired Martial Artists Month, I’d like to highlight a few:
Why punch from the hip?
In boxing, the boxer keeps his hands up on either side of his face for protection. Punches are thrown from this position. One hand goes out, the other stays by the face for protection.
Why does karate require that you throw a punch from the hip? What is gained by this?
The point of pulling the fists back is to open the chest. Doing so during stance changes makes it harder to use the arms for balance. It’s not for punching. Punches done from the hip are just a training exercise. The Japanese simply copied basic Shaolin from the Chinese. Some teachers try and read ridiculous theories into why something is the way it is: “It’s for qi,” “it’s for jing,” “It trains you to monkey elbow a guy that puts you in a bear hug from behind”, etc.
If you start taking things out of MA that are not combat-relevant, you’re left with punches and kicks, knees and headbutts. The simple answer is: it’s not martially oriented. Its just a myth that Shaolin monks are/were “fighting” monks. That’s nonsense. And everyone knows it.
Welcome to the fourth edition of Qigong and Energy Arts Forum, a monthly collection of the best new articles on qigong (chi kung), reiki, kundalini yoga, meditation, and other related disciplines. This edition focuses on the risks and dangers–physical, intellectual, and spiritual–of improper practice.
Army’s New PTSD Treatments: Yoga, Reiki, and Bioenergy by Noah Shachtman (The Danger Room)
The military is scrambling for new ways to treat the brain injuries and post-traumatic stress of troops returning home from war. And every kind of therapy–no matter how far outside the accepted medical form–is being considered. The Army just unveiled a $4 million program to investigate everything from “spiritual ministry, transcendental meditation, [and] yoga” to “bioenergies such as Qi gong, Reiki, [and] distant healing” to mend the psyches of wounded troops…
Dangers of Kundalini Yoga by Anmol Mehta (Mastery of Meditation, Enlightenment and Kundalini Yoga)
Kundalini Yoga is certainly a powerful science and if not approached with intelligence and respect it can produce some challenges and difficulties for the practitioners. That is not meant to discourage you from taking up its practice, it is meant to help guide you so that you undertake Kundalini Yoga practice safely and thus, enjoy the enormous benefits that this form of yoga bestows…
Excerpted from Breathing Spaces: Qigong, Psychiatry, and Healing in China by Nancy N. Chen
Qigong in the Scientific Community
Qigong began to be actively debated within the [Chinese] scientific community during the 1980s, when scientists, especially physicians, sought to legitimate the phenomenon of qi. While popular publications focused on practice or gave life histories of particular masters, the discussions of qigong among scientists addressed questions of how to measure the force field of qi energy. Qi as a material phenomenon had to be quantified. This interest paralleled attention to the phenomenon of teyigongneng, or special psychic abilities.
…The doors of scientific research opened when Qian Xuesen, the prominent founder of China’s space research, declared that teyigongneng merited serious study. In his account of this movement, Paul Dong, a US-based qigong master, described how young children in China were tested for their abilities to “hear” characters being written and to perform psychokinesis (the power to move objects with their minds); there were reports of pills disappearing from bottles only to materialize outside their containers.
Scientific experiments also commenced during this period, as many researchers believed that special abilities could be enhanced with qigong. Over a dozen scientific journals and publications, among them, Zhiran Zazhi (Nature magazine) and Dongfang Qigong (Eastern qigong), began to discuss human potential and somatic science.
After reviewing the training methods of Qi Dao, Kumar Frantzis suggested that such material would be more precisely labeled as shen gong, or spiritual cultivation, rather than as qi gong (energy cultivation). While I cannot disagree with his observation, it seems to me that most English-speaking qigong enthusiasts are in fact seeking self-realization, harmony and peace of mind—not merely a vehicle for increased physical vitality—so some imprecision can be forgiven here.
Qi Dao: The Art of Being in the Flow is (to my knowledge) the first English book on the obscure Tibetan art of Shamanic Qigong, or trul khor. Written by Lama Somananda Tantrapa, an ordained Buddhist monk and longtime martial artist, Being in the Flow introduces the basics of this unique brand of Tibetan Yoga.
Ebb and flow – rise and fall by Patrick Parker (Mokuren Dojo)
One of the main philosophical and strategic principles of the ancient Kito school, from which both aikido and judo took root, was the idea that ki (energy) is always rising and falling, ebbing and flowing and changing forms. This article at Mokuren Dojo describes this concept and gives a couple of hints for harmonizing with the ebb and flow of someone’s energy.
Qigong Yiquan Review and Impressions by Jacob (Parapsychology Articles and Blog)
I’ve written before about my first qigong lesson. Nowadays, I still go the classes and am much more knowledgeable on this subject.
Nourishing the Liver by Joanne Hay (Nourished Magazine)
Cleansing the Liver looks very different when seen through the soft, clear eyes of Nourishment. How do we treat Liverish symptoms that pop up in Spring without falling for the old cleanse, purge, no pain no gain paradigm? Some of our Nourishing recommendations may surprise you.
Every person’s body has an aura (light). All living things have auras. Even nonliving things have auras. Physicists refer to the aura as a field, a space which contains active magnetic or electrical lines. The aura of the human body is the qi field of the body. Some individuals are born with the ability to see auras. Others are able to see auras with qigong training, as well as after a session of meditation. With the ability to see human auras, it is possible to understand the workings in the human body. Depending on the colors and the intensity of the aura around the individual, the condition of the individual can be deciphered.
With the ability to see auras, one can also decipher the depth of another person’s energy cultivation. The aura of Laozi was described as purple. The auras of Sakyamuni Buddha and Avalokiteshvara (Guan Yin) were described as a ring with multiple radiating colors. Drawings of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary also showed auras. Indian yogis, Chinese Daoist and Buddhist cultivators all have large beautiful auras.
Bad answers to martial training queries are inconvenient, but ultimately innocuous. If every theory and technique is tested, as common sense requires, then false information will eventually be recognized and discarded.
Bad questions are more dangerous. A bad question is one with a useless answer: there is no benefit to answering it correctly. People who ask too many bad questions find themselves hamstrung, and unable to deepen their understanding. These questions are a defense mechanism of the ego, breeding complacency and conceit.
Are references to Chinese life science—qigong and TCM, specifically—a necessary component of Chinese martial arts instruction? This subject resurfaces every few months on Internet kung fu forums. Most recently, Joanna Zorya of the Martial Tai Chi Association argues against the practice. She invokes the names of famous instructors—Tim Cartmell, Chen Zhenglei, and Hong Junsheng, to name a few—in support of her claim that talk of qi is superfluous at best, and outright deceptive at worst.
The annual celebration of World Tai Chi and Qigong Day will be held this Saturday, April 28, 2007. Many Seattle-area groups will meet for practice at this auspicious time, weather permitting.