Qi Questions

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by Libraquan, Mar 29, 2007.

  1. Libraquan

    Libraquan Tenacious Member

    Hello all....again...

    I posted the following on another thread, and I got a lil' slap for being off-topic. No harm done...although I'm a little mystified as to why others could discuss Qi on that thread without incurring bold font. So here I go again...3rd time lucky?

    I've been away for a while. RL interloped, but I'm back on board now.

    I posted the following on the IMA forum The thread was titled something like "5 animal frolics". I asked some questions, but only Cloudhandz got back to me, and I thank him for that. Taiji Butterfly also replied.

    My primary taijiquan teacher virtually never talks about Qi. I practise YCF's long form, plus a lot of drills, chansigong, but no Qigong.

    There seem to be plenty of people here who have practised Qigong for some time, so there must be some answers out there.

    What is Qi for you?
    Where do you think Qi comes from?
    We all (basically) share the same nervous system and senses - so shouldn't Qi feel the same for virtually everyone?
    Am I considered a bona-fide student of taiji if I don't practise Qigong?
    If I'm practising form properly, shouldn't the Qi manifest by itself anyway?
    ("properly" = adhering to the basic principals of taijiquan)
    If I start practising Qigong exercises, how will it benefit my form / fighting techniques?

  2. Inner Qi

    Inner Qi Banned Banned

    Tai Chi without Chikung is like fish without chips;- it's good, but not as good as it could be.

    To me, Chi/Qi is a form of energy that flows within us. We draw the energy from the air through use of Chi Kung excercises.
    Chi can manifest itself by simply practicing form, however it takes a lot longer than if you were also practicing Chi Kung.
    If you were to start practicing Chi Kung diligently now, then you could expect improvement in all aspects of your internal training. Increased sensitivity, increased power/jin, and at high levels, psycic abilities.

    It's best to practice Chi Kung early in the morning and mid to late evening, preferably in natural surroundings, such as under trees, near running water. But avoid areas such as graveyards, car parks, near busy roads etc, as the Chi in the air in these areas is often stagnant.

  3. Taoquan

    Taoquan Valued Member

    I have been told that if you are not doing Tai Chi with Qi then you are just aerobically exercising. In fact, in the school I train you can't even earn your first rank unless you show you can do some of the form with Qi.
    However how you practice Qi within the form is different for everyone, I was personally taught to act like you are swimming through a strong flowing river/wind and feel it surround you some you always maintain the same amount of movement, pace etc. making your body entirely move as one unit. Just as stated in the classics.."One part moves, every part moves."
    As for your questions above"

    Qi is for is the very energy of life simply put. It is the wind, rain, the breathe, people say Qi does not exist. Though Qi is classified as energy, don't we already know there are sound waves, EMF and even our own television frequencies that move through the atmosphere? How is this different?

    We all (basically) share the same nervous system and senses - so shouldn't Qi feel the same for virtually everyone?
    I would like to say yes here, but it is simply not true. If you have practiced and "felt" Qi from the beginning the sensation is new and unique for everyone. However I think personally that people exp. it differently b/c of different skill levels, either through practice, and/or natural ability.

    Am I considered a bona-fide student of taiji if I don't practise Qigong? Tai Chi and Qigong are considered one and the same, as well as separate arts. Tai Chi Chuan is considered putting the theories and applications behind a MA background. However, it can also be used to revitalize health and healing much the same way as Qigong. Where Qigong is considered much more focused on the health, with some of the MA stretching etc. added in there but not really applications.
    While they suit each other separately they can also be practiced together to further one's training. Though as stated above, you can do Tai Chi with Qi and this is essentially Qigong.

    If I'm practising form properly, shouldn't the Qi manifest by itself anyway?
    ("properly" = adhering to the basic principals of taijiquan) Yes, though practicing properly is difficult to do. I was taught the Qi should NEVER be forced, this is against the principles. So if you follow the proper principals i.e. Physically aligned properly, Sung (relaxation, both mind and body) and reaching a state of meditation. Then yes, the Qi will flow by itself, though this is a difficult state to achieve.

    If I start practising Qigong exercises, how will it benefit my form / fighting techniques?
    For the most part see above, however, in my exp. Qigong benefits Tai Chi Chuan b/c it enables you to feel Qi, and control Qi at a greater level. This is because the forms of Qigong are usually shorter and focused on Qi only. Where as Tai Chi is working on these aspects, while moving and applying techniques.

    Most of this is from my own experience and teaching, but hope it helps. :)
  4. jkzorya

    jkzorya Moved on by request

    Hi Taoquan,
    I intend to mostly stay out of this discussion, so I'm purposely refraining from commenting on other people's answers. But I wanted to request a small clarification from you if I may.

    You say that Taiji cannot be performed without qi as that just makes it aerobic dancing (well OK I have to comment while I'm here that this is not the case if you focus on practicing martially applied Taijiquan largely instead of linked form sequences).

    My question is - in your view, which other Chinese martial arts is this also true for? In your view, are there any that can be practiced without qi?
  5. Wuming

    Wuming Bored

    Hello Inner Qi,
    What are these "psychic" abilities I can hope to attain by practicing Qi Gong? Just curious.
  6. Shadowdh

    Shadowdh Seeker of Knowledge

    Here is my considered response...

    What is Qi for you? A misguided belief in what they didnt understand then and thuys gave a generic label to, comes to haunt us now...
    Where do you think Qi comes from? from not understanding things we do now... perpetuated by some who really want to believe in something but not perhaps a god...
    We all (basically) share the same nervous system and senses - so shouldn't Qi feel the same for virtually everyone? because everyone has a different mindset...
    Am I considered a bona-fide student of taiji if I don't practise Qigong? yes
    If I'm practising form properly, shouldn't the Qi manifest by itself anyway? what the ancients considered Qi does... but if youre told to look for something mystical and it doesnt manifest as you think it should but as something else then you will miss it...
    ("properly" = adhering to the basic principals of taijiquan)
    If I start practising Qigong exercises, how will it benefit my form / fighting techniques? makes your body stronger and you more in tune with it...

    Take care now...
  7. Sandus

    Sandus Moved Himself On

    You're a brave man...
  8. Taiji Butterfly

    Taiji Butterfly Banned Banned

    Libraquan, soz for the bold type thing - that wasn't just aimed at you, it was a general comment on the thread (includes me too)! I think it's good to have a thread just for qi debates, it should be a sticky imho - then every time the qi-hamster wheel starts turning in another thread the poster can be directed here...

    So with that in mind I'm answering Jkzorya here, as it's on topic here, not in the fast forms thread
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2007
  9. Bethtopia

    Bethtopia New Member

    Hi again,

    I'm posting this just to show my own, personal take on what Qi is all about. This is how things sit in my head. There's no way I can put across these opinions without being inadvertently insulting to at least a few people, in much the same way that it's very difficult to have conversations about religions between atheists and believers without one seriously offending the other.

    However, there is a debate here and it's a genuine and important one and so, if you'll forgive me (and consider yourself appropriately forewarned if belief in Qi is a core part of your identity or livelihood), here's my answers:

    What is Qi for you? It's what ancient Chinese people believed filled the empty arteries and veins they observed when they saw corpses with limbs removed. Because the blood had drained out, they assumed that, in a living person, these 'tubes' that they saw would be full of air. Medical advances and further study of human biology have proved this not to be the case.

    The concept of "Qi" as a life force/energy that can be manipulated by thought and body working in harmony persists as a belief system popular amongst martial artists studying certain CMAs, although some appear to rationalise their beliefs by assuming that Qi is a metaphorical abstraction of genuine and quantifiable physical processes and not a separate unmeasurable and unprovable addition form of energy. Others literally believe that Qi can bestow superhuman abilities, and that their failure to achieve these results comes from being unable to harness it correctly and thus decide that further, more intense, training is required. Most seem to believe that using Qi offers them some benefits and increase in power or general health, although this is highly subjective and in my mind falls under the same catagory as £100 a metre speaker cable - the people who buy it will swear blind they can tell the difference in the sound quality compared to £5 a metre stuff, but blind tests do not bear them out.

    Whether or not you believe in Qi depends on whether or not you believe that [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=co6G-vyAlII]these guys[/ame] are performing circus tricks to entertain tourists or genuinely harnessing supernatural forces. I don't take their explanations of how they perform these stunts at face value because they make more money by claiming they have magical powers compared to selling themselves as a "mere" travelling circus, although I have no doubt that they're highly skilled and that the stunts are impressive.

    Where do you think Qi comes from? The very human ability to see what we want to see, feel what we want to feel, believe what we want to believe.

    We all (basically) share the same nervous system and senses - so shouldn't Qi feel the same for virtually everyone? Yes, if it were a real, measurable phenomenon. The variation in perception of Qi suggests a psychosomatic origin rather than a physical one.

    Am I considered a bona-fide student of taiji if I don't practise Qigong?
    Yes, they are separate and distinct even thought people who believe in Qi and practice Taijiquan with an eye to "healing" or more general spirituality and self development will often find Qigong appealing and incorporate it into their training.

    If I'm practising form properly, shouldn't the Qi manifest by itself anyway?
    ("properly" = adhering to the basic principals of taijiquan)
    It'd be hard to make money teaching people how to manipulate and use Qi if that were the case. Read into that what you want :p

    If I start practising Qigong exercises, how will it benefit my form / fighting techniques? It promises nothing specific enough to measure so that you can make a rational, informed choice about whether or not you're getting any benefit.

    Well, that's my honest answers. Of course, I could be wrong and could change my mind with new evidence, but sadly Qi has gone the way of Santa and the Tooth Fairy in my mind for the time being. I'm not going to mention the other big thing I don't believe in because that really would be pushing my luck, I think. :D

  10. onyomi

    onyomi 差不多先生

    Sorry, wrong, wrong, wrong. I don't really feel like describing all the many ways in which this is wrong, but I'll start by pointing out that you need to give the ancient Chinese some credit. What is your source for believing they thought the blood vessels were carriers of the qi? The qi meridians do not correspond to the blood vessels and TCM makes a clear distinction between qi and blood. They knew what blood vessels were.

    You're also making the mistake of thinking that qi is some kind of alien energy which suffuses the body of the qigong practitioner and that only they can therefore feel. It isn't. Qigong only amplifies natural movements and sensations within the body until you can feel a kind of internal "movement" most people can't feel. The feelings of qi moving are mostly feelings normal people feel to some extent in various situations, i.e. throbbing, tingling, sense of motion, flow of blood, an electric "chill," a pleasant sensation similar to sexual pleasure, but which can move around the body, etc. etc. In other words, it's not about getting in touch with some alien, spiritual force nobody else can feel, it's just intensifying and learning to control sensations and internal movements already present.

    I'm sorry, but it's starting to get a bit heinous the jealousy and bitterness some Taiji people feel about qi. They don't get it so they have to assail the whole concept by putting up the strawmen of magic tricks and charlatans who claim to be doing qigong. Yes, there is a lot of fake qigong, but there is also such a thing as real qigong. It's not psychosomatic. I can observe (as in see with my eyes) marked physical changes as a direct result of qigong practice. Yes, you could do Taiji without qigong, but it's meant to be done with it. The more I do qigong the more I understand this.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2007
  11. Bethtopia

    Bethtopia New Member

    Here although this document uses a book, "The Ancient Chinese Exploration of Vital Energy Effect on the Formation of Qi Theory in the Huang Di Nei Jing" by Z. Yuan as one of its sources.

    Yes, of course they knew what blood vessels were.. eventually. But by this time Qi had become part of the folk religion, in much the same that here in the West, despite the evidence for Evolution, many choose to believe that all life on this planet was spontaneously created rather than the product of hundreds of millions of years of gradual change.

    I'm sceptical about TCM too to be honest. It all comes under the catagory of Pseudo-science to me. If something is real and works then it should be possible to prove it conclusively under test conditions.

    I promise you there's no bitterness or jealousy on my part. I simply see Qi in much the same way that I view psychic phenomenon - that is, with a healthy scepticism.

    I can't automatically believe that Qi exists and is a useful part of Taijiquan based on anecdotal evidence and at the moment that's all there appears to be. It is impossible for me to prove that Qi does not exist. The burden is on those that practice it to prove that it does.

    The matter certainly can't be settled by discussion, and I've no more chance of changing someone's opinion on Qi as I have of talking someone out of believing in God.

    It's very important to point out that we, as human beings, are annoyingly stubborn in our opinions. We ignore or reject information that conflicts with information already in our heads, and we use information that does to reinforce our beliefs, and this process is continual.

    We should really test our knowledge but we very rarely do. This is what having an "open mind" and the Socratic wisdom of "true wisdom is knowing that you know nothing" really means. I know I have some ingrained beliefs that transcend rationality like, "All Micra drivers drive very slowly." I totally ignore Micras going normal speeds and only notice the ones that I get stuck behind now and again, as if that somehow conclusively proves my theory. I'm even aware that my theory is rubbish but still.

    We really do believe what we want to believe and so I'm not here to change minds but simply express my opinion just for the record so to speak. There's nothing personal.

    Physical changes you can see? That's interesting. Can you clarify what you mean? How can you be sure that these physical changes haven't been caused by some other physical process though?

    Here's another question! How can you tell the difference between real Qigong and fake Qigong as an outside observer? For those that believe in Qi it might be useful information for a thread like this.

    I'll understand if you don't want to answer though, wouldn't blame you!! :)

  12. daftyman

    daftyman A 4oz can of whoop-ass!

    My 2 renminbi:

    What is Qi for you? The source of far too many arguments on internet forum sites. Coverall term for things that cannot be explained properly. Energy, or a sensation of energy in the body.

    Where do you think Qi comes from? Qi-Mart. Everywhere, within us and around us.

    We all (basically) share the same nervous system and senses - so shouldn't Qi feel the same for virtually everyone?
    Everyone's senses are different, some can see better, some smell better ( :confused: ), some feel better :D Why should the feeling of Qi be any different?

    Am I considered a bona-fide student of taiji if I don't practise Qigong?
    The form is also qigong. qigong = qi exercise/work. see below

    If I'm practising form properly, shouldn't the Qi manifest by itself anyway?
    ("properly" = adhering to the basic principals of taijiquan)

    yes, at least you may feel sensations that you cannot explain in any other way and be quite happy to call it qi.

    If I start practising Qigong exercises, how will it benefit my form / fighting techniques?
    Easy, you'll be able to shoot mind bullets and levitate! Qigong might make you feel calmer in an altercation. By being more relaxed/calm your form will be better.

    Qi is a very personal thing. You believe or don't believe. If you don't believe, and practise properly according to principles then the qi might be there anyway. Just because someone does not believe in God, it doesn't mean He isn't there.
  13. Taiji Butterfly

    Taiji Butterfly Banned Banned

    I like your attitude Beth, even tho I disagree with your pov :) (and that dubious article about TCM which I've read before)
    Generally? If someone is trying to 'prove' stuff to an audience while wearing bright circus-like baggies and grunting a lot impe... :D
    Qigong etc is about personal inner development, not showing off imo
    The history of CMA (and most MA tbh) is peppered with these demo's - it's just advertising really. A bit like the Maori hakka (not sure I spelt that right :confused: ) - I bet if you scrapped a maori warrior he wouldn't stick his tongue out and glare like a loon while he was stamping on your head! :D
    A lot of this mad trickery developed to try and ape the reputed powers of the MA masters of old and later as a part of the reaction against the rise of firearms in China. There's a lot of kudos and machismo involved. Before the two big temples went 'Disney' you'd never have seen genuine adepts performing such rubbish in public - now the 'monks' are basically circus-goons :cry:
    The idea of physical invulnerability is a bit like the Chinese obsession with immortality, it has some basis in practice and history, but gets taken to unrealistic extremes, distorted and abused by modern folks.
    As an example of a benefit of my own experience, I use my own neigong practice, combined with autogenics and meditation, to raise my pain threshold. I can experience fairly extreme pain and stay calm as a result - but if you hit me or put my arm in a hard lock I probably couldn't do it (yet) - what it does help me with is when someone who's trained in jiujutsu or another locking art tries to lock me up, unless they're very good, I can delay the pressure reaction and often move out of the lock before I'm immobiliised by it. Where does qi-work fit into that? It's just a way to get my awareness into the deeper aspects of my physical structure and learn to control my reactions and responses to pressure/pain.
    Whether Qi exists or not, it allows my mind to produce a desired result. :cool:
  14. jkzorya

    jkzorya Moved on by request

    HI TJB, I must keep this brief because as I've already stated, I don't want to really get involved in this thread - that would be pointless - we've already been at each others throats more times than I can remember over the issue of qi. There are lots of discussions and debates already sitting there waiting to be read by anyone who can be bothered.

    On these you'll find that you did indeed blame the PRC for the child exploitation and for Taiji knee, but not to worry. I'm sure if you use the "find all posts by me" feature you'll find them within the last few weeks.

    Incidentally, logos in Greek just meant "word or reason," but has come to be equated with the word of God subsequently in theology.

    I just wanted to answer a couple more points (after which the thread will hopefully be able to get back on topic):

    1) Communists and fascists are two different things. This does not need a response because it is not relevant to the discussion.

    2) In reference to this:

    If you really want to know, then I'll tell you.

    I "know" from direct communication and prayer. God may be distinctly unfashionable in "internal" martial arts circles where people get obsessed with "self" cultivation, but a great many people who do have a faith will know exactly what I mean.

    It is the difference between that which you know is really real and that which is just vividly imagined (rather like your "trip" werewolf experience, which was a product of your body being poisoned and your mind being thrown into a state of panic.)

    I "know" what God wants of me because He has told me :)

    This does not need a response either, because again, it is not relevant to the discussion.

    p.s. No, I don't enjoy being a non-conformist. I frequently wish more people saw things the way I do. Don't we all?

    p.p.s in response to:
    Julie is the person I've lived with for the last 16 years (not in the way most people mean, not that that would matter). She has also been one of my main training partners for the last decade.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2007
  15. Taoquan

    Taoquan Valued Member

    Hello to you jk,
    Most traditional Chinese martial arts have some aspect of Qi, yes I know even in Kung fu circles Qi is not taught or thought of. However, from the Classical and ancient pov Qi was started in all these schools of thought, through evolution and various disbelief (just like today) Qi was thrown out or not studied. Thus causing (yet another) split in some MAs. Whether through the fact that some students simply did not understand or "feel" Qi, so they think it non-existant, then they started their own MA school not teaching such.
    Any MA can be practiced without Qi, (Mcdojo's imo) yet we are looking at Qi as some random chaotic life force, or whatever. However, as we know in Tai Chi Chuan the Mind or Yi (intent) is closely linked to Qi. "The Qi follows Yi" is often one quote. So I present this as a training tool my school and I use.
    For example in Hsing I, we do the mountain punch. As you punch you are to focus your mind and literally everything you have into this one punch. However, say you had a bad day or are unfocused, it is easy to see the effectiveness of this punch decrease substantially. Though with continued focus and intent you can increase your speed, accuracy and strength.
    This imo (and by what I have been taught) is yet another form of Qi. We sometimes get misdirected in thinking Qi is one form of energy, while imo it is not. You have other types i.e. roll back, press, push, these movements are not done with the same "Type" of qi, as the intent is different.
    Hope that answers your question :D
  16. Taoquan

    Taoquan Valued Member

    Beth, I appreciate your honesty. I believe there is no place for ego in the MA or healing and even though I personally believe in Qi, it is nice for me to see others that do not. I say that not because I seek to change your mind, but it is because of this that someday we may indeed develop a thorough understanding of what it is. A form of healthy competition ;)

    Though as a TCM student, I have seen the profound effects of Qi with a master practitioner that I currently apprenctice with. Even though I believed in Qi before, I was also somewhat skeptical (I think we all are to some extent) Until I have observed him heal numrous diseases that were "incurable" by modern western science. These range from "simple" things like migraines, and asthma, to even Multiple Sclerosis. He is also an experience MA and Tai Chi practitioner who has shown me many different effects of Qi even in MA practice.

    Also, I think it was ono, who mentioned there are A LOT of poor practitioners, "magicians" and con artists out there who exploit these things for there own benefit.

    Even though these, "miraculous healings" are things that do occur with no apparent explanation for them (in the western sense) they do happen. Though thanks to some of this phenomena there are studies occuring (more in Asias and Europe than US) trying to see what Qi is. Some results are fascinating to say the least.
    Just because we have no current way to measure Qi, does not mean it does not exist. If we followed this thought, we would not have the many technological advances we have now. Maybe someday we will be able to quantifiably measure qi, who knows? :D
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2007
  17. jkzorya

    jkzorya Moved on by request

    In response to:
    Thanks Taoquan, in your opinion, do you have to do anything other than focus your intent for the qi to follow? And should you also consciously harmonise your breathing with the movement?
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2007
  18. Taoquan

    Taoquan Valued Member

  19. Taoquan

    Taoquan Valued Member

    Yes, allow, is the simple term my master says. While intent should be focused it should not be strained or forced. Sometimes when people focus or concentrate you see them furrow their brow, tense up. This stagnates qi and restricts muscular movement actually causing injury, esp. emitting fa jin.
    It is similar to the chinese term "song" or relax, not like a lazy boy recliner relax, but much more like a pine tree weighted with snow relaxed. You can physically see the branches bend under weight, but do not break. However, when you clear off the snow the branch springs back to it's original form. Very similar to Rollback (Lu) and Push (An).
    As for the breathing, there are many different schools of thought here. My school teaches to coordinate the breath with the movements and teaches this to students right away. Other schools teach this, but wait till advanced stages (some styles of Chen teach Reverse breathing to emit Fa Jin), others simply say let the breath come it will harmonize itself.
    While I have practiced all the schools of thought, I find for me personally to coordinate the breath provides greater focus and concentration. While I perform more of an "offensive" manuever the breath maybe exaled, but since it is a quick manuever it may or may not be exaled completely. Thus, storing the breath and energy for another movement. Though, there is no definitive answer for much of this b/c we all train differently.
    I personally feel you should find a teacher, style, school of thought that you agree with. Why should you compromise your own beliefs and values otherwise? :D
  20. onyomi

    onyomi 差不多先生

    Physical changes like an increase in the number of blood vessels I can see under my skin. Physical changes like clearly being able to send a lot of blood to my hands, feet or head. Physical changes like elimination of lower back pain. I know this is anecdotal and doesn't "prove" anything... but for what it's worth. Most of the changes do seem related to blood--so could it be that qigong is actually "oxygenated blood training"? Maybe (though I'm sure more's involved, such as hormones). But even if the sensations are caused by the blood, isn't that still an unusual and remarkable type of training?

    How can you tell real qigong from fake? Well, it's very easy for me because now have sensitivity to what does and doesn't move the qi. Therefore, I can quickly have a pretty good idea whether a given exercise will or will not have any qi-related benefits. Generally speaking, however, real qigong should be somewhat similar to Yoga--i.e. a mind-body exercise system including stretching, gentle movement, posture holding, breath work, coordination of movement and intention with breath, and so on. There are also legitimate sytems of qigong called "paida-gong" in which the qi flow is stimulated by being slapped with the hand or a other object (kind of like a rough massage).

    Fake qigong includes all types of magic tricks--bending spears with your throat, breaking bricks on your stomach, etc. Pushing people without touching them. Sending your qi 'into' other people to "open their third eye" or whatever. Anything that promises instant gratification. You can't develop qigong skill without a lot of hard work on your own. The master can't just zap you and you have qi. There's also a lot of what I'd called crappy or "incomplete" qigong floating around, i.e. qigong which is only seated meditation with various hand postures and visualizations or qigong which is only stretching. These are not sufficient to get to the real benefits of qigong, though they aren't "fake" per se.

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