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Qigong is the Mandarin Chinese term used to describe various Chinese systems of physical and mental training for health, martial arts and self-enlightenment.

Qigong or Chi kung (an equivalent term derived from Wade-Giles Romanization) is an English Romanization of two Chinese characters: Qì and Gōng. The dictionary definition for the word “qi” usually involved the meaning of “breathing”, “air”, “gas” and “vapor” but it can also be used in the context of describing the relationship between matter, energy and spirit. The dictionary definition for the word “Gong” is that of achievement or results. The two words are combined to describe systems and methods of “energy cultivation” and the manipulation of intrinsic energy within living organisms.

There are many forms of qigong originating from different segments within Chinese society. The traditional Chinese Medical community uses qigong for preventive and curative functions. The Chinese martial arts community considered qigong training an important component in enhancing martial abilities. The religious community, including both Taoist and Buddhist traditions, uses qigong as part of their meditative practice.[3] Confucian scholars practice qigong to improve their moral character. In the 1940s and the 1950s, the Chinese government tried to integrate those disparate approaches into one coherent system with the intention of establishing firmer scientific bases for those practices and as part of the political philosophy of the Cultural Revolution. This attempt is considered by some sinologists as the start of the modern interpretation of qigong science. Through the forces of migration, tourism and globalization, the practice and the promise of qigong has spread from the Chinese community to the world.

The practices of Qigong are differentiated by four types of training: dynamic, static, meditative and activities requiring external aids. Dynamic training involves special movement and applies to exercise such as Tai ji quan. Static training requires the practitioner to hold the body in a particular posture. Meditative training involves visualization or focus on specific ideas, sounds, images, concepts or breathing patterns. There are also training methods that involve an external agent such as the ingestion of herbs, massages, physical manipulation or interactions with other living organisms. A qigong system can be composed of one or more types of training.

Qigong is considered to be part of alternative medicine, with positive effects on various ailments. Some researchers are skeptical of some of the claims for qigong and label the subject matter a “pseudoscience”. In addition, the origin and nature of qigong practice has led to misconceptions and misuses. The abuse of qigong practice had led to the formation of cults and potential psychiatric problems.


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