Qi Gong, Chinese Kongfu
The term, qigong, pronounced "chee gung," is comprised of two Chinese characters. Qi is energy that is in all reality. Gong is skill from committed practice. Qigong is a system of martial, medical and spiritual practices. Qigong forms are generally classified as Wu (Shamanic), Classical and Contemporary Qigong. Posture is the common element to all qigong practices.
Qigong's history extends back more than 4,000 years. The first forms of qigong can be linked to ancient shamanic meditative practice and gymnastic exercises. Contemporary qigong is a complex accretion of the ancient Chinese meditative practice xing qi or "circulating qi" and the gymnastic breathing exercise tao yin or "guiding and pulling", with roots in the Ching and occult arts; philosophical traditions of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, with Yoga influences; traditional Chinese medicine and martial arts; along with influences of contemporary concepts of health, science, meditation, and exercise.
According to the traditional Chinese medical community, the origin of qigong is commonly attributed to the legendary Yellow Emperor (2696-2598 BCE) and the classic Huangdi Neijing book of internal medicine.
Chinese martial arts practitioners, influenced by all the different elements within Chinese society, adapted and modified qigong theory with the goal of improving their fighting abilities. Many Chinese martial arts paid homage to Taoism or Buddhism by claiming them as their original source. For example, Tai chi chuan is often described as being Taoist in origin. Shaolin martial arts is named after the famous Buddhist Shaolin temple.
The exchange of ideas between those different segments within Chinese society created rich, complex and sometimes contradictory theories and methods of training. The difficulty in determining the correct training method, the traditional master-student method of transmission and the belief that qigong represents a special and valuable knowledge limited the research and development of qigong to small but elite elements within Chinese society. Specialized texts were available, but were secretive and cryptic and therefore limited to a select few. For the general population, qigong practice was a component of traditional Chinese medicine. This medical system was developed based on experience, along with philosophical and folk practices.