/CH?/ – Noun: The circulating life force whose existence and properties are the basis of much Chinese philosophy and medicine.
/g?NG/ – Verb: Cultivation of Qi
When combining the two words, the term “Qi-Gong” translates literally to “Life Force Cultivation”. Oriental Qi-Gong has been used throughout the centuries, derived from ancient China. It is basically the art of combining meditative breathing with slow, fluid motion to produce a perfectly balanced qi, or chi, as you may be more familiar with. A balanced chi is meant to enhance a person’s health, as well as physical and psychological wellbeing.
Did you follow any of that? If not, let me try it a different way. Remember years back the first time you saw that awesome kung fu movie ‘The Karate Kid’ (1984)? And remember how sometimes ‘Mr. Miyagi’ or ‘Daniel San’ would go off on their own in a quiet place and perform what looked like martial arts, but in slow motion? It wasn’t very intense, but damn it looked cool! Chances are, you went out in your back yard and tried to imitate it. Don’t deny it – you know you did!
While that movie didn’t use any true forms of karate, actually blending a series of martial arts forms and a yoga-like version of tai chi, the effect they were going for is basically the same. Oriental qi-gong is meant to cleanse the body, create a positive mindset and, despite the deliberate slothfulness, is actually considered by many practitioners to be a good form of exercise. It’s also believed to be a form of medical healing, said to have cured myriad ailments even when doctors said there was no hope. Food for thought…
Utilization of Oriental Qi-Gong in Fitness Training
Qi-Gong’s roots can be traced as far back as 4,000 years in ancient China. Different sects believed qi-gong produced different results. For example, traditional Chinese physicians believed in its curative powers, while Confucianists deemed qi-gong enhanced a person’s longevity and promoted superior moral character. In Chinese martial arts, qi-gong is deemed to augment one’s fighting sills, as theatrically portrayed in The Karate Kid.
All forms of Oriental qi-gong are comprised of common attributes that include slow, purposeful breathing – in through the nose, out through the mouth, with long, deep, measured breaths – as well as gradual, fluid, physical motion. Although the specific sects of qi-gong are many, they are all characterized by four key groups, two of which we will specifically focus on as they are more in tune with the goal of fitness training.
The first is known as Dynamic Training, and incorporates the use of explicitly choreographed movements, each designed to be timed with cognitive breathing patterns. In dynamic training qi-gong, the speed at which you move can actually range from slow to rapid, based more on physical comfort, meditative state and, of course, your level of experience with the choreographed motions.
The second is known as Meditative Training, centered more around breathing and mental focus than movement. I know, you’re trying to get into shape, it seems like there should be some movement going on, but hear me out. Meditative training incorporates cognitive breathing, visualization and a mantra. The mantra can be extremely useful to the amplification of your own willpower, as you should already know if you’ve read my previous segment on using the Power of Belief to Achieve your Fitness Goals. If not, I suggest giving it a read.
Oriental qi-gong is an excellent way to focus your chi towards the enhancement of your fitness performance, either as a warm-up before exercising, or as a cool down method afterwards. Mike Chang’s ‘afterburn effect’ is designed to continue burning calories for many hours after a fitness session is complete. Thus by focusing your mental and physical energies on the desired effect, it can further augment each performance dramatically.