Friday, December 23, 2016

Simple Answer to "How is Qigong Different from Yoga, Gym Exercises Etc?"

  The Main Difference of Qigong Traditions
 By Gary W. Abersold

A common series of question's that is often asked are: 
  1. What is the difference between Qigong and Relaxation Techniques? 
  2. How is Qigong and Yoga different?
  3. Are Gym workouts and Qigong different?
  4. How is Qigong different from Samatha ~Vipasyana Meditation   
The above are a series of type questions often asked but, in mosaic fashion never truly are explained well. The answer is quite easy actually; it focuses on intention, attention and feeling of life force energy as a primary feature of  Qigong. I explain more below, but to also get a couple of things out of the way lets ad on a couple of other details.

 The term Qigong and Application: This is a umbrella term that has a large body of practices; numerable in style and uses. Each Qigong practice is unique and is not a "One Size Fits All" modality either. It takes a well trained practitioner with many years of practice to be able to easily enlightened the would be new user of Qigong. In the public many Qigong classes are taught and address many common ailments. In reality serious problems need specific tailored Qigong practices, along with in many cases related herb formulas and Qigong treatments. This can include massage and Acupuncture Therapy in various forms as well. There are many guidelines in proper administration of Qigong practices. Many Qigong practices have been vetted by Chinese Scientific and Medical Community, so the practices I am referring to are not self created Qigong sets by self identified Qigong Masters. I have been studying Chinese Medicine since 1981 and working as a Therapist since 1994, with many achievements and credentials. What I can tell you with certainty it requires quite depth, and continuing training and education in this vast tradition. 

The Qigong Difference: Qigong versus modalities such as Yoga, Gym exercises, etc. is that it first puts a large investment on mind intention and attention which develops our wisdom mind and helps us to properly enter into qigong properly. The Mind Intention and Attention I will leave for a journal entry all its own; its concepts are specific and different. It is a large teaching, which requires much elaboration. 

The universal salient features of Qigong Traditions is primarily the specifics of internal energy activation and mastery of life force energy. Specific practice's address the following - building/conserving, harmonizing/balancing, transforming/increasing, releasing/projecting life force energy is the main difference. Also skill set exercises that calibrate the physical body and internal organ system, specific respiratory breathing and paired movements, specialized life force meditations, specialized stretching, and postural movements, based on internal energy pathway system. Specialized personal empowerment's to strengthen ones Body/Mind/Soul are just some of the main differences.  

To Truly Feel and Experience Qi: With all that being said the main goal is to exist in a heightened sense of feeling, focus, and awareness of "life force energy". To truly feel and experience Qi is what seperates Qigong from almost everything else. It is unique and a complete tradition that does not have to be layered upon with other systems. Cultivation of life force energy is the oldest tradition in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The whole goal of Qigong is to strike a balance between yin/yang and develop the Qi for optimum health. Being present in the life force field activation and having the tissues, blood and bones saturated with Qi, is a main difference in Qigong Traditions and practitioners role in health and wellness.

Qigong is Holistic: The concept of holism/holistic is a foundation in Qigong. Western Scholars explain holism as a Philosophy with Therapeutic application.  The philosophy of holism is characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. The therapeutic application of holism is treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical symptoms of a disease. Qigong in a western sense is Medical, a form of medicine and is therapy. To call it Medical/Medicine although is a slippery slope to use that lingo. Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine have no correlation and those terms eludes it to be western scientific medicine which just causes all kinds of confusion. It is simply therapeutic that lead's one into application of  holism. Follow your Qigong Tradition along with nature and you will exist in a holistic state. 

In Closing: Many years ago I asked one of my teachers of China "What does Qigong do"? Trying to pick his mind and see what he had to say. He said "Oh well It makes everything better"; from your personal to ones professional life that's it in a nutshell. It's no big deal just do it and stay focused and you will find the gold in your efforts. Forget everything else this is the best thing in life.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

On Personal Qigong Practice

Insights Along the Way

Today's journal entry covers only three topics briefly:  1. Personal Practice 2. The age of everything 3.Where to begin. I get lot's of emails from students and even written letters asking about these three topics. So lately it seems that many students are not practicing as regular as they should; many are too wrapped up with social media and lurking around online and getting little to no results.  Through feedback many don't even now where or how to begin the search. To the reader hope you find this useful; but take it with a grain of salt. I began in a non technology driven era, my views are real experiences = real results. ~GWA       

Daily Personal Qigong Practice

The purpose "Personal Qigong Practice" is to build and maintain a solid foundation. Foundation practice's ensures our body/mind to grow and also to keep what we been practicing. Having a strong Qigong practice always ensures our body to be able to recover from illness, imbalance or depleted energy states.  It also assist you to connect more deeply with your personal spiritual endeavors. When we engage to keep a strong tradition alive, we not only be maximize our self-healing ability, we are more effective if we do self energy healing treatments on ourselves and others. It also helps your daily living; how you relate to others around you, and your career. Qigong self practice makes gives you "moxy" for our busy life. 

The Age of Everything Available

Technology is kinda like Pandora's box for the dabbler in energy healing practices and almost anything else for that matter. I find more and more people distracted by not knowing what to do. This is not because lack of access; the internet has created a whirlwind of confusion. Everyone today has a book, video something to sell/peddle. In many cases much has been misappropriated from a lineage/teacher as well. My advice is to stick with one tradition -one mentor; or you will be constantly searching and never going anywhere. 

The reason this is important is because it takes several years to refine any one method/approach. Loyalty to a system and a mentor goes a long way. If you engage with a tradition and you go in 100 % and get close with the students and teacher you will find a deeper interest will be taken in you. Qigong mentors are students as well; and we know what it takes to do Qigong properly. In many cases when a teacher sees that a student is a dabbler they will clam up and not be able to guide you deeper. The mistake falls on you; is it so hard to do one thing 100% ? 

Real experiences up close and personal is what to look for. Study with a teacher, have a friendship practice group. This will go a long ways in what you have a interest in. Practicing with friends is key because more than one person will be there doing the same thing. If you have forgotten something most likely someone else remembers it. Having practicing/training buddies is key in the informal practice sessions. Life is short; time clicks by constantly. Invest in real life experiences, you will be glad you did in the future.

Where to Begin?

In your community it is best to do good ole fashion, get in your car and venture out and mingle. When I began in 1981, it was through word of mouth or a lead from friends etc. The same holds true today, the good teachers who can actually teach are often off the grid. They might have a website but their interaction online will be small at best. It might be frustrating in the beginning to find someone. If you stick to it doors will open and you will find what you are looking for. Look for the teachers that run ongoing classes, this is important for learning how to practice.Weekly interaction is important to give and receive feedback. The local group is the foundation to your path, without it will be real hard to keep up in early stages.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

All Classes Full ~Get on the Waiting List

All Qigong Group Classes and Private Healing Session Spaces are now booked for Mid Winter Season (January - March). It is a good idea to contact us and we will call you back and get your availability and see where you could fit in.  All classes are taught in Sterling Heights Chi Studio. The Healing Qigong I teach is very popular and results are generally relatively quick. It is a testament to my Master's methods that I promote, that are still taught in many Chinese and Japanese Communities. I am also only one teaching the classes which is a six day a week class schedule. So please be patient circumstances change often and schedule can open up.  Email me at  

Looking forward Spring 2017: 

  •  For West side of Michigan I will be teaching now a series of workshops: (1.) May (2.) June (3.) September (4.) December

 The workshops are on the Tai Chi 氣 Chi Flow Traditionwhich teaches the following:

(1) Energy Cultivation Training (2) Energy Congestion Release Practice (3) Chi Flow Sets
(4) Traditional Chi Therapy 

All Workshops cost $150.00 for two days 10am - 5pm, comes with DVD reference video's associated Cd's and follow up PDF handout notes.

More details to follow---please email to get on my student list or for interest in the Workshops. 

Thank You---Gary W. Abersold (


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pre Christmas Season *Free* Qigong Classes

Only Three Qigong Classes left before Christmas Break.  In a few classes you get the knowledge on how strengthen life force energy and flow it through deceptively simple practice. Classes will not meet again until after New years day. Class dates are:

11/29/2016, 12/6/2016, 12/13/2016    

Where.. Irene's Myomassology Institute  Southfield Michigan, Tuesday night 7pm at the Yoga room up stairs.  

Friday, November 18, 2016

Drug Addiction Worst Than Ever; Chinese Medicine Can Help

Someone you know probably is an addict of some sort according to startling recent finding by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. It is estimated that 1 in 20 adults, or a quarter of a billion people aged 15-64 years, used at least one drug in 2014. Although trends in drug use vary across regions, as does updated reporting on data, the extent of drug use among the world population has remained stable over the past four years. Almost 12 per cent of the total number of people who use drugs, or over 29 million people, are estimated to suffer from drug use disorders.
Pot, Weed or "Cannabis" remains the world’s most widely used drug, with an estimated 183 million people having used the drug in 2014, and amphetamines remain the second most widely used drug. With an estimated 33 million users, the use of opiates and prescription opioids may not be as widespread as the use of cannabis, but opioids remain major drugs of potential harm and health consequences. Where updated data is available, as an overall trend, global use of cannabis has remained stable over the past three years, although in some sub regions, particularly North America and Western and Central Europe, cannabis use has increased. 

In the absence of recent survey data on drug use in Africa, experts in the region also perceive an increase in cannabis use. Moreover, the global trend in cocaine use, which was stable after 2010, has shown a recent trend, mainly as a result of an increase in cocaine use in South America. The global trend in the use of amphetamines is stable, although this may underplay the situation in regions where recent information on the extent of drug use is unavailable. This is particularly the case in Asia, where expert perceptions of trends and treatment admission reports suggest an increase in the use of amphetamines in the region, specifically in East and South-East Asia. 

The global picture of drug use is compounded by the fact that many people who use drugs, both occasionally and regularly, tend to be "polydrug" users, meaning that they use more than one substance concurrently or sequentially, usually with the intention of enhancing, potentiating or counteracting the effects of another drug.The non-medical use of prescription drugs, synthetic stimulants and new psychoactive substances in lieu of, or in combination with, conventional drugs gives a picture that blurs he distinction between users of a particular drug, presenting an interlinked or cyclical epidemic of drug use and related health consequences in recent years. Additionally, such a pattern of drug use presents challenges to health professionals responding to emergencies related to drug use, as well as to those treating people with disorders related to the use of multiple drugs.

What is disappointing is the study by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is also still not classifying process addictions such as addictions related to smart phone use and various devices, as a clear addiction. The data is out there kids as young as 7; as well as teenagers and adults are hooked on the phones, laptops and tablets. The effects on your brain are the same. If you do the study there is plenty of data to support it.

So with all this being said from working with many addicts of all walks of life. I would recommend to anyone looking into this, to work with a specialist whom specializes in Integrative Therapy. Best situation would be a Psychologist whom understands Integrative Body/Mind Healing  along with proven addiction/recovery protocols. All addictions are a medical disorder and one should not feel any shame or guilt from it. Can Traditional Chinese Medicine help it? Absolutely supplement in concert with medical professionals whom treat these problems. 

Past cases I  have worked with using Acupuncture Therapy, herbal prescriptions and bodywork, and teaching clients how to practice the self balancing methods during the withdrawal stages  helps them deal with the onslaught of emotions, physical sickness and spiritual healing. In this way it gives them tools to deal with all that is going on.  Truly many of them would not have healed and had a fighting chance without it.

People suffering from addictions are in many ways dealing with a Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde persona, they want to quit but need much help, but the mind constantly is toying with them.  They must surrender to the process and trust the therapist team to help their best interest. Working with people suffering from addictions is not easy, but can be done if the daily work is done and the person is monitored carefully with full family support and positive caring attitudes are around them.       

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Return to Balance

Embrace Receptivity & Balance
Today's web journal entry is be one of "Receptivity & Balance". The easy lesson here is avoid people, places or things that create emotional garbage; less said is always best. Be active on the path you plow and avoid the anger, rage, negative comment's and opinions. 
As many know hopefully; or obviously not..opinions on politics always begins arguments. Even if you and the person you're speaking with might have similar views. You will lose friends, reduce opportunity's by emotional outburst airing what you might regret once you cool off.

Its a trend now for people to foolishly blast their emotions for all to see. But really it does nothing but hurt yourself. Not everyone has the same opinion, and this goes for many different areas such as Money, Religion, Diets and many other hot topics. Politics in America seems to always get many riled up.

My parents and grandparents as well raised me that one's particular views are your particular views, no one can change that, but discussing them in public when you know that most likely everyone around you has a different opinion will result in tension, and that, is almost guaranteed to polarize or fire people up; its also very rude, we have enough tensions in the world.

Much can be said about one's spiritual evolution on how they carry themselves in public. Picking sides or "fueling the fire" on the internet will do nothing to make one healthier, happier or enjoying the current moment right here and now.

Find the happiness in your own spiritual enclave community's, and focus on gratitude; for all you have and where you are going in your personal life. Dissolve the attachment of the "Emotional Mud" of mainstream Society, it does not matter in your life. Be like the Wind and Soar high and  invoke your ancestors spirits for proper guidance. You will be much happier; forget the problems of the mainstream world and the confusion of the world will forget you. :)


Friday, October 21, 2016

Tai Chi Workshop Howell Michigan

Note: Come join a wonderful group of lifelong Tai Chi & Qigong practitioners for a Super Saturday Gathering! Various presenters in Traditional Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong will be presenting skills and methods that will enhance youre life path traditions. Personal Participation will go a long way in your understanding with these traditions. One cannot learn completely from a book, video or online, it requires personal contact and connection. Much will be added to yourself personally meeting new friends whom share same likeness as you. Express youre inner will and participate and truly learn. :) 

G.W. Abersold 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Tai Chi 氣 Chi Flow Practice: Five Element Balancing Set

Tai Chi 氣 Chi Flow
 Five Element Set 
November 28th-January 7th 2016

Our Five Element set in our Tai Chi 氣 Chi Flow curriculum will be taught during the holidays.  This is a wonderful easy to do set designed to balance emotions and bring harmony back into one's being very easily. Only Seven parts to which are deceptively simple but very powerful. 

There are Five Yin Organ balancing movements, a movement induced microcosmic orbit practice and the seventh part is a one postural Qigong position.  Practice has movement breath control cycle, visualization; a well rounded textbook perfect Qigong set. 

Practice will be taught at Sterling Heights studio on the weekends in my Saturday and Sunday morning Classes at 10:00am-11:15am. Space is limited and will fill very quickly.

To get on the class enrollment  list email me here:



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Healing Qigong Classes

Almost all spaces for classes are booked up for Fall and Early Winter (October through December). I offer classes 7 days a week and we will be closing new enrollment soon. So if you are interested in a class please contact us. There are times available that are not listed on the schedule. 

Looking for a great introduction to Qigong come to my practice group at Irene's Myomassology Institute in South field Michigan. The practice teaches energy recharge and specific Qigong flow movements that will:

  • Improves health
  • Increases energy, agility and flexibility
  • Loosens and strengthens joints and muscles
  • Normalizes energy congestion
  • Rejuvenates body, breath, energy, mind and spirits
  • Dissolves stress away
  • Develops concentration
  • Balances emotions

 Class Begins October 18th @7:00pm-8:15pm; located in upstairs at the Yoga Room.
location is listed below: 

Irene's Michigan Myomassology Institute 26061 Franklin Road, Southfield, MI 48033


Questions contact us at


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Five Centre's Face Heaven with Master Baolin Wu

In promotion of authentic source tradition teachers, I like to help promote Master Baolin Wu's seasonal Fall Workshop. This workshop is located Santa Monica California, a beautiful area. I do this practice and it's very powerful, his knowledge on Qigong Healing is authentic and will benefit you in many ways. He presents everything from a Traditional Orthodox Taoist teaching, made readily easy to learn for non specialist. This is important because nothing is left out. Receive a complete teaching versus a partial one. Learn how to integrate this in your own home and lifestyle. Please understand these gatherings fill very quickly so I recommend enroll today!  Read more below:

Message From Master Baolin Wu:

The Moon impacts ocean tides high and low, at its strongest form, Full Moon, impacts even more so, through its gravitational pull, so does it to our body fluid and  electrolytes.  Schizophrenia episodes multiply, criminal cases found guilty at large, this time around we are vulnerable to our emotion vicissitudes, Joy, sorrow, irritated and upset at some or many.

Unyielding to the moon wax & wane, "5 Centers Facing Heaven"a profound and beautiful Qi Gong practice, borrows the Yin Energy from the Moon, absorbing its essence, through breathing, meditating, and flows of movements. Facing the Moon, ask for tranquility,  grounding and at ease. September 15 is Moon's festival, celebrating Moon's birthday. More than an ancient legendary story of goddess Chang Er, jade hare living in the Moon Palace overlooking human on earth, how ungracious can we get, the moon is only ready to bestow sense of peace and settlement, that shone through grievance, contrite.            
Class at eleven on September 18th is a revelation of Qi Gong movements weaved into pattern, to be practiced in the presence of the glimmering moonlight. One inhale, one exhale, yin yang came across, lungs, kidney channel meet. 49 days of practice extends a lifespan an extra 2 years, all because of the moon's quintessence was absorbed by a willing heart. Untold stories from the white cloud monastery give in time and space, it's to be understood to each his own.Workshops fill quickly enroll today, contact details below:

Beijing Chinese medical Center 
1551 Ocean Avenue  #210
Santa Monica CA 90401

To enroll in workshop contact:

Office Hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 1PM - 6PM
Saturday 10 AM - 4PM


Monday, September 5, 2016

The Power of Peace ~ Zhan Zhuang Gong

 The Way of Peace
Zhan Zhuang Yang Sheng Fa 
 Master Yu Yongnian


Master Yu Yongnian (于永年) is a celebrated Master teacher in the Zhan Zhuang 
(站桩養生法) Tradition. He was one of the last surviving teacher of Wang Xiang Zhai a famous teacher and Martial Artist in Beijing. Master Yu Yongnian was born on March 31, 1920 and lived until October 2, 2013 passed away at age 93.  He was a life long teacher of his teachers art and developer of this famous style unique to this area of China and within Zhan Zhuang, Yi Quan Health and Martial Arts.

In my life every teacher I have ever studied with (1981-current) taught/teaches a tradition of Zhan Zhuang; three of them were personal students of Yu Yongnian. Even they had considerably different takes on the practice. So there is not one school per se; and its not the final judgement on what is as well. These postural meditative traditions have always existed and always will.  For anyone interested in Qigong there is a sequence for everyone. It does take a experienced teacher to correctly adjust you and physically and verbally teach the in's and out's from experience on what makes this aspect of Qigong work. No video or book will be able to do this only from real practice can you get it out. 

The traditions from Wang Xiang Zhai and made popular through his students such as Master Yu Yongnian and many others are very popular. In many ways a standardized entry gate system into the vast world of this practice. But there is much to meet the eye here, holding the postures is a mere sliver of a very deep tradition. So I will leave it now at that and let his interview speak for the tradition he and his teacher had made famous.

Gary W. Abersold 

Question: Professor Yu, why have you started practicing martial arts? From what I read, after finishing medical school, your physical condition had deteriorated. Is that why you started practicing?

Initially I studied Tai Chi Chuan and Xing Yi Quan. Around 1944, I had already completed my medical studies and I was already working in the dentistry department of the hospital. It is true that my health was not very good; during the winter, I caught a cold easily, and in the spring it did not improve. For one reason or another, I always had something or the other.

Question: And why choose Taiji Quan or internal martial arts?

In China, in the medical field, there is the idea that people who exercise regularly and develop their physique, their muscles, will certainly cause their circulatory system to suffer. Their heart and the blood circulation will be affected by this excess, leading to a shortening of life. However, when someone assiduously practises gentle and slow exercises, their circulatory system strengthens and lengthens their lives, which is why people who practice Tai Chi tend to live longer. If we think of the animal kingdom, the lion or the tiger possess spectacular strength, but their life expectancy is rather short. However, the elephant and the tortoise, animals which move rather slowly, live over a hundred years.

And if we compare the animal and vegetable kingdoms: How many years can a tree live? In Beijing’s parks, there are many ancient trees, gigantic cypress that are over a thousand years old. In Australia, there are sequoias over ten thousand years old. In Chinese, they have a very interesting name, Shijeye, which means “grandfather of the world” .To return to the topic of sports, the majority of people do not understand, think that the more we move, the better it is; the higher the speed, the better it is. Like running the marathon and that sort of thing. However, in China, from antiquity to the present day, it is the question of whether the best exercise is to move or stand still, a subject that is still being debated today, the conflict between movement and stillness. Initially, I also understood that but later I found the answer in the Tao De Jing, which solves this dilemma about quietude. Do you know what I mean?

Question: I think so, is it Bao yi duli bu kai (embrace the one alone and without changing)?

Almost. Bao yi wu li (embrace the one, without abandoning nor going away). Embracing the one is easy, anyone can do it. But persevering, staying this way for forty minutes, an hour, it’s already more difficult. However, the longer one practices, the more the internal changes are produced and the greater the transformation is. This is not to say that the peace is the only way. Training in motion, that is to say, Taiji Quan, also has many health benefits.

Question: Taiji Quan through movement is therefore, the same as the Zhan Zhuang through peace?

What anyone ultimately practicing gongfu, is the forced jin or the wu. All look the same. The thing we need to stress is, which method gets us closest the objective; we must stress on that which makes us progress the most, either through movement or stillness. From my perspective, what will bring us the greatest experience of the jin force lies in the motionless practice, but as we said, it is a conflict that dates back to antiquity. For most people, exercise involves movement. However, training the interior by an outer immobility is a practice that produced surprising results, although it was hard for some to believe. That said, it is necessary to practice for a long time. Moreover, if nobody tells us what to look for or how to find it, it is very difficult to persevere. One must have great confidence in one’s teacher to overcome these barriers.

Question: Furthermore, reading ancient texts on kung fu, information is often very vague and very difficult to understand, especially for the Westerners. Perhaps this leaves too much room for speculation!
It is difficult to find a theoretical basis that is precise, useful, explained with verifiable scientific parameters. The theory of kung fu which we inherited from our ancestors reflects the reality of the time, the information was codified and too abstract, so the theory was not easy to understand if we had not someone to explain it. With experience and personal training, it is difficult that it leads us somewhere.

But today, we collect ancient knowledge and combine it with the means that modern science provides us with. This results in a verifiable system much less abstract. Today we can understand the ancient concepts in a new light. Nowadays, we cannot set up a training system based solely on the words of the past. We must aim higher especially as we have the means. For example, we speak of “finding stillness in movement of Tai Chi Chuan and movement in stillness Qigong How do we measure the movement in stillness? How is it verifiable?

Question: I do not know. Is there a means to measure the movement in stillness?

There is one, but until now, no one knew how to measure it. In fact, it is enough tojust measure one’s pulse to see that with practice of the static position, without moving, the pulse can rise to 150 beats. This is an example of what we were talking about.

Question: You mean, with the pulse, it is possible to determine the degree of internal movement?

Yes, of course, is not an external movement, but an internal one. If it moves very, very slowly, it is possible that the heart rate does not change, and yet without moving, it can cross 150.

Question: With such rapid heart rate, there would be some respiratory problems, breathing wouldn’t be normal? 

You see ? That’s the advantage. In any sport, a heart rate above 100, one begins to pant. But the practice of Zhan Zhuang, at a faster pace, doesn’t get you out of breath. There are physical activities that cause us to lose oxygen in the blood, and others where oxygen is not lost, but where it accumulates. That is why, when one practises Zhan Zhuang for over twenty minutes, even if one begins to sweat, the mind is more clear and the breathing does not accelerate.

Question: Can you tell us about your meeting with Wang Xiang Zhai and give us your first impression?

He was an elderly man, neither fat nor thin, neither tall nor short, with a little belly. A normal man for his age. He must have been about fifty years, could have even been in his sixties. I was 23 or 24 years. He was very bright, healthy, but he did not like someone practicing kung fu. You know, people who practice Kung Fu are generally stocky, with lots of muscles (laughs). He looked more like an educated person. His attitude was not that of a fighter, but that of a sage.

Question: Basically if you had crossed the street, you would have never imagined he practiced wushu?

No, he didn’t seem like that, but his physical condition was admirable, and his gait was very sharp and swift. We, at twenty, we were unable to follow. I admit that at first I could not believe it … I thought: “By practicing only Zhan Zhuang, standing doing nothing, can we develop inner strength? “Besides, he did not look particularly special, he was a normal man, he didn’t seem t possess exceptional abilities. I had only heard what others said about his dexterity … Especially since I was a doctor, and it was that he had the ability to cure diseases. This I could hardly believe it. So I had my doubts. But with time, I realized that my teacher was right, and the results had convinced me.

Question: Where were you training with him?

We trained in Tai Miao, the current Palace of the culture of workers, on the east side of Tiananmen Square. In the morning, many people came to train, over a hundred. It is at this point that I started to train with them. The real beginning was in Beijing between 1942 and 1944 at Pichai Hutong, in Xidan, under the Japanese occupation. It was after the seizure of Japan in 1945 that they began practicing Tai Miao. That’s when I joined the group. After the Liberation (1947), the classes were moved to the Zhong Shan Park.

Question: From what I know, in the early days of the Wang Xiangzhai instruction, one especially practices fighting, is it not?

Exactly at the beginning, he taught us boxing. The students were very young and enjoyed the fight. It was the era of Yao Zong Xun, who began studying before me. At that time, after having studied for a few years, students sought prestigious opponents and tested their skills.
Question: So pure sparring?

Yes, at Pichai Hutong, students were mainly learning how to fight, and, the truth is that Wang Xiang’s students Zhai fought against opponents who practiced other styles and they usually proved themselves superior. But it is true that many of them were too busy fighting, and some have also abused their power. The overall impression is not so flattering. People thought we practiced Da Cheng Quan, and that we were fighters, troublemakers, so the reputation we had was not positive, of course.

Over the years, this was the reason why Yao Zong Xun gave up its name to go back to its the original style and was renamed Yiquan, hoping to get rid of the bad reputation following Da Cheng Quan. This is why, in Yao Zong Xun’s training system, it is still called Yi Quan.

Question: But then, what is the correct name, Yi Quan or Da Cheng Quan?

Yi Quan is the name of the style developed by Wang Xiangzhai in Shanghai during his time, that is to say, the time before his arrival in Beijing. The system began to be called Da Cheng Quan during Beijing’s era. But it was not the idea of Wang himself, but his disciples.

Da Cheng is a Confucian concept indicating a very high degree of personal development, among scholars. Da Cheng Quan means “Boxing of great achievement.” Yi Quan derives from Xing Yi Quan (boxing of form and intent), but Xing was withdrawn because Xing Yi Quan does not have forms nor routines. Zhang Bi Hua gave the name Da Cheng and Wang Xiangzhai initially agreed. However, he thought that the knowledge of the man was unlimited, as the knowledge of martial arts, and to call it “great success” could give a wrong idea about the unlimited knowledge.

The two names correspond to different eras. The Yiquan dates back to the 20s in Shanghai, Da Cheng Quan dates back to Beijing during the 40s. Eventually, it was given the final name of Xue Zhong Guo Quan or “science of Chinese boxing” or “Chinese kung fu”.

Question: We can say that these three designations correspond to three different periods, is not it? But “the science of Chinese boxing” is a more general name?

The science of Chinese boxing (Kung Fu) is the result of many years of research on the foundations, the pillars of the practice of Chinese kung fu. Otherwise, if you want to call it the first era of Da Cheng Quan or Yiquan, it really does not matter. But the name that corresponds to the last era is Zhong Guo Quan Xue yanjiu hui. (association of the research on Chinese kung fu or Chinese boxing).

The inscription on the tomb of Wang Xiangzhai, Xue Yan Jiu Hui Yiquan (Yiquan Research Association) is incorrect, because the final stage was to move from one style of fighting or boxing to investigate the science of martial arts. Such has been its evolution, this is the reality.

Question: And how does such a martial style develop into a science of culture and of health, of Yangsheng?

After the liberation, the practice of martial arts was banned. And although there were many people interested in the martial aspect, like Yao Zong Xun and Wang Jie Xuan, what interested us was the Zhan Zhuang, it was not only ts quality of therapy, but also its means to preserve health, Yangsheng. I was a doctor, I could not pick a fight over there (laughs), and I was interested more int investigation and studying in depth the aspect of prevention and treatment of diseases.

Question: So how does this research group of curative aspects of Zhan Zhuang created by Wang Xiangzhai created by 1947 in investigated it? By reading books?

At that time there were no books nor any material. There were ancient Buddhist and Taoist texts, but no newer and more precise publications. References to the practice in the ancient books are very vague. And the recent publications were small books that taught positions, nothing more, nothing elaborated upon.

Question: In June 1981, Zhan Zhuang Jian Shen Liang Fa (Zhan Zhuang a good method for health), the first book on Zhan Zhuang as the techinique of the culture of health was published. The first edition sold 120,000 copies, and the second more than 275,000.

Yes, it was in general a theoretical explanation of Zhan Zhuang. It also included some medical cases, but nothing more. It is in the later publications that medical records were included.

Question: I understand that the application of Zhan Zhuang in hospitals began in the 1950's Apparently Wang Xiang Zhai was invited to the hospitals and clinics across China to teach Zhan Zhuang as therapy. When did he begin treating patients with Zhan Zhuang? What was his approach?

After the Liberation, in 1947, coinciding with the period of Tai Miao, many people came to the park to cure their health problems. Essentially, we practiced Zhan Zhuang, and then sick and the weak were leaving and we continued practicing the "tuishou", pushing with the hands.

Question: I understand that this change came from the prohibition by the government of the martial arts, and Wang Xiangzhai then concentrated his practice on the treatment of patients.

Yes, that’s right, and very successfully, too. As I said, many people came for this reason, with problems such as arthritis or an affected shoulder that does not allow you to raise the arm, people coming in wheelchairs pushed by family … these people after half a month or a month were recovering mobility in their members or have started to walk alone. At that time, I began to understand that the cases I saw every day in the hospital and did not improve were resolved in the park almost immediately. Then, in the physiotherapy section of the hospital, we have created a new department called “exercises for recovery” (Ti Liao ke).

At first there were not many patients, but the department soon began to fill up. On the fifth floor of the hospital of western medicine, we had a huge room where we practiced Zhan Zhuang in the morning. Despite the skepticism, word of mouth has worked well and, in no time, we welcomed many people.

Question:And what happened to martial practice, has it just disappeared, or is there anything left?

At Tai Miao, most were practicing Zhan Zhuang for health, but there was also a group that was training at Yao Zong Xun’s home, in Xidan. They were all young students who learning combat but almost clandestinely, because it was not allowed. This does not mean that there has been a change in the mentality of Wang Xiangzhai, this was due to political circumstances. But the fact is that the number of people practicing Yangsheng was growing more and more and the number who trained at combat was growing fewer and fewer, and so, the practice has evolved towards the prevention and curing of diseases. Anyway, the therapeutic results were very good.

Question: What types of diseases are treated?

They were all chronic illnesses: hypertension, arthritis, coronary heart diseases, digestion, insomnia … Insomnia has given excellent results.

Question: What was the reaction of the medical community?

There has been no concrete answer. At first we had just created the rehabilitation room with the exercises at the general hospital of Peking. Other hospitals did not have such courses, but they gradually began to include similar activities, but they used only the generic name Qigong.

Question: How did the Zhan Zhuang therapy and the Qigong therapy differ?

At first they were very similar. We all practice with static postures standing, sitting or lying down. After creating the sanatorium of Beidahe, they started calling it Qigong in the parks, and the Chinese medicine hospitals have also called it Qiqong and not Zhan Zhuang. In 1967, they invited Wang Xiang Zhai to the Research Institute of Chinese medicine and created the Department of Research on Qigong. It was called Qigong but Zhan Zhuang was practiced like in the hospital of Guananmen or the one in Baoding.

Question: So initially, the practice was the same, but wore different names? Because they followed different paths thereafter? 

It’s exactly that. In the 60s at Xiao Tang Shan, a seminar was held where all the sanatoria and rehabilitation services in the country spoke of Zhan Zhuang. Then I went to Shanghai where we have also presented, and it is from there that it was accepted in all these institutions as therapy, but it was called Qigong because the name already had a reputation and Zhan Zhuang didn’t.

Then came the boom of Qigong and many systems have emerged, some were positive and some real scams. Then Li Hong Zhi appeared and created Falun Gong. He also taught on the basis of Zhan Zhuang, but added things like “Falun wheel” orbits etc. They promised spectacular things. But it ended Qigong movement in a tragedy.

The first steps of the Qigong therapy are very positive and very useful from a therapeutic point of view. The problem is with the higher steps, such as “open the gate of heaven”, the micro-orbit, macro-orbit … These elements can cause many problems. By practicing Qigong, the focus is on the middle line in the meridian design, while in the practice of Zhan ne practices on the four members of the body. It is best not to focus on the centre and not to control the breathing. Natural breathing is the best, for then the brain is able to relax. The ends are the most important, this is where we concentrate our work, thanks to them, we connect with our nternal centres (bodies) and we develop our capacity, our potentiality. The lower extremities are most important, the potential is much greater. Technology has made the man largely sophisticated the movements of its upper members, but there is much more potential in the legs.

Question: Did you know the original therapy of Qigong? What was it?

In ancient times, there were methods of Yangsheng, the culture of health, used by people of high intellectual and culture. In my view, this whole culture of Yangsheng comes mainly from Tao Teh Ching of Lao Tsu. A very important part of the Tao is to cultivate life or health. Understanding this is very important, but many miss the point.
Question: And the Buddhist contribution?

In Buddhism, the main one is the sitting posture. The Chinese cultural tradition brings this little gem that is standing meditation, sometimes with martial vocation, but always centered on the development of global energy and integrated in the middle.

Question: But the training system which, according to tradition, brought the Bodhidharma in the Shaolin also includes standing postures.

Yes, it is true, but the first references to standing meditation exist in the Chinese culture a thousand years earlier than it did in the “Classic of the Yellow Emperor” and especially in the Tao Teh Ching.

Thereafter, the only practice of Zhan Zhuang, which had perhaps become too difficult and too elementary, evolved towards a practical in movement, then came those who were called internal martial arts, thereafter. These styles function on movement, and Qigong, on peace.

Question: What is the reality of Zhan Zhuang as therapy today?

Therapy is currently used in very few places. In the medical field, we still use a lot of acupuncture and Tuina massage, but static practices are in decline. They solely exist in small communities and parks and really is a shame, since it is the gem of the tradition. 

Question: Can we get it back?

At least, it is at the state at which it had arrived a few years ago. In hospitals, we can say that it has almost disappeared. Now the practice is going pretty much on a personal level, at home, in some schools, in the parks with professors. Sure, it does not benefit from the recognition it had a few years ago.

Question: At which position do you think the Zhan Zhuang could aspire?

We should spread and promote its practice because many chronic diseases are not cured with medication, but with the Zhan Zhuang one can re-balance effectively without resorting to the often aggressive treatments. The evolution of Zhan Zhuang is taking place at a private level, not at the public level or at the state level. In the private sphere, there has been an increasing level of interest, especially abroad. 

Because in China, what just happened to Falun Gong weighs too much, is still too recent. The Da Cheng Quan situation has been affected by all this. But we must not lose sight of Zhan Zhuang, which more than therapy or a system of combat, remains the best way to prevent disease, and it is this value that we must defend, it is an extraordinary method for preserving and reinforcing good health.

End of Interview

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