by Joann Flora,
Acupressure, Nutrition Counseling, Qigong
February 19, 2003
Historically, Qigong covers four periods during which the various styles developed: Scholarly and Medical Qigong (1122 BC - 220 AD), Religious Qigong (206 BC - 502 AD), Martial Qigong (502 AD - 1911 AD), and Modern Qigong. Qigong preceded the development of
'The Buddhist Monk, Da Mo, fell into disfavor with the emperor and withdrew to the Shaolin Temple. He found the monks sick and weakly from many years of sitting and meditating. They had developed their spirit and intellect, but their bodies had decayed. For nine years he shut himself away to work on the problem and emerged with two medical classics: the Muscle/Tendon Changing Chi Kung, and the Marrow/Brain Washing Chi Kung. These texts on improving and maintaining health were hard to understand and practice, and were secretly passed on to only a few disciples in each generation. The priests who practiced found that not only did their health improve, but their strength greatly increased. The Qigong training was then incorporated into martial arts forms. The Shaolin priests created the five animal styles in Gongfu (Kung Fu) which imitated the way certain animals fight (tiger, leopard, dragon, snake, and crane). Tai Chi grew from Qigong.'
In today's modern economy, Medical Qigong is an excellent way for us to take a proactive role in our own health care. It is inexpensive, available, and convenient for those of any health status. The history of this ancient healing art tells us that regular practice can be used to maintain present good health, treat or prevent illness, lower stress, reestablish the energy balance that our body/mind/spirit needs for optimum health, promote longevity, enhance creativity and intellect, and bring us a sense of peace and harmony. What happens to us is not nearly as important as how we respond. Practicing Qigong routinely gives us tools to facilitate more useful, positive responses to stress, illness, and injury.
One of the most popular styles of modern Qigong is Zhineng, known as Chi-Lel in the west. Developed in China by Grandmaster Dr. Pang Ming, M.D., creator of Soaring Crane Qigong, this style was used at the Zhineng Qigong Center, the world's largest medicineless hospital. Pang Lao-Shi (a respectful address meaning Pang The Teacher) developed Chi-Lel from 5,000 year old medical Qigong concepts. It is estimated that literally millions of people practice Chi-Lel world wide and that many have healed their injuries and illnesses through their efforts. "According to A Summary of Zhineng Qigong's Healing Effects on Chronic Diseases, published by the Center in 1991, data on 7,936 patients showed an overall healing rate of 94.96%. This represents 15.2% cured, 37.68% very effective, and 42.09% effective." (Master Luke Chan). Zhineng was used at the Center exclusively and no drugs or surgeries were provided.
Through the efforts of Masters
Luke and Frank Chan, Zhineng Qigong was brought to the US and
Europe where it is known as Chi-Lel. Workshops, retreats, books,
audio/video, and an on-line newsletter have allowed countless
people to learn and use Qigong for their health. So, why use
Chi-Lel over other forms? What about other forms of Qigong or
Tai Chi? Regarding other Qigong, Master Luke tells us, "If
you want to dig a well and you dig 10 feet here, and 10 feet
there, and 10 feet in another place, what chance have you to
find water. Instead, you pick one place and keep digging. Sooner
or later you find water." Master Frank was once asked by
a student why he didn't just teach us Tai Chi, since he and Luke
had been doing Tai Chi since they were children. "Tai Chi
too hard! You practice, same teacher, every day ten years, then
you get it. You not practice ten years, you not get it. You study
with different teachers, you not get it. You get Chi-Lel right
away. Use right away." The Chan's recognize that in the
west, we are too busy, too spread out for the kind of lifetime
commitment that some martial arts require to become truly effective.
Kids, jobs, and multiple family activities mean we can not practice
for hours each day. The simplicity of Chi-Lel, short forms and
isolated movements, allow us to fit Chi-Lel into busy schedules.
Of course, there are long forms for those who have the time and
motivation for them.