CATEGORIES OF QIGONG
There are four major schools or categories of Qigong that were created by the different classes of people in China. The
scholars, medical doctors, martial artists, and religious monks all had their distinctive categories of Qigong. The martial
Qigong was again divided into external and internal styles, and the religious Qigong was divided into Buddhist, Daoist, and
Tibetan styles. Of all the different categories of Qigong, the scholarly and religious Qigong categories originated from and
focused on the cultivation of human nature and spirit.
A) Scholar Qigong
The history on Scholar Qigong stretches back before the Han dynasty (206 B.C.). The first major school of Scholar
Qigong was started by Confucius (551-479 B.C.) and the scholars who practiced his philosophy were commonly called
Confucians. The second major school of scholarship was started by Lao Zi and was called Dao Jia (Daoism). In the 6th
century B.C. Lao Zi is considered to be the author of a book called the Dao De Jing (Classic of the Virtue of the Dao), which
described human morality. This would be the Daoists prior to the Han Dynasty because Daoism was changed during the
Han Dynasty due to the import of Buddhism from India and would be considered Religious.
In regards to their contribution to Qigong, both schools of scholarship emphasized maintaining health and preventing
disease. They believed that many illnesses are caused by mental and emotional excesses. When a person’s mind is not
calm, balanced, and peaceful, the organs will not function normally. For example, depression can cause stomach ulcers
and indigestion. Anger will cause the liver to malfunction. Sadness will cause stagnation and tightness in the lungs, and
fear can disturb the normal functioning of the kidneys and bladder. They realized that if you want to avoid illness, you must
learn to balance and relax your thoughts and emotions. This is called “regulating the mind.”
Therefore, the scholars emphasized gaining a peaceful mind through meditation. In their still meditation, the main part
of the training is getting rid of thoughts so that the mind is clear and calm. When you become calm, the flow of thoughts
and emotions slows down, and you feel mentally and emotionally neutral. This kind of meditation can be thought of as
practicing emotional self-control. When you are in this “no thought” state, you become very relaxed, and can even relax
deep down into your internal organs. When your body is this relaxed, your Chi will naturally flow smoothly and strongly.
This kind of still meditation was very common in ancient Chinese scholarly society.
In order to reach the goal of a calm and peaceful mind, their training focused on regulating the mind, body and breath.
They believed that as long as these three things were regulated, the Chi flow would be smooth and sickness would not
Many of the Qigong documents written by the Confucians and Daoists were limited to the maintenance of health. The
Scholar’s attitude was in Qigong was to follow his natural destiny and maintain his health.
B) Medical Qigong
In ancient Chinese society, most emperors respected the scholars and were affected by their philosophy. Doctors were
not regarded highly because their diagnosis by touching the patients body, which was a characteristic of the lower classes
in society. Although the doctors developed a profound and successful medical science, they were commonly looked down
Of all the groups studying Qigong in China, the doctors have been at it the longest. Since the discovery of Chi
circulation in the human body about four thousand years ago, the Chinese doctors have devoted a major portion of their
efforts to the study of the behavior of Chi. Their efforts resulted in acupuncture, acupressure or cavity press massage, and
In addition, many Chinese doctors used their medical knowledge to create different sets of Qigong exercises either for
maintaining health or for curing specific illnesses. Chinese medical doctors believed that doing only sitting or still meditation
to regulate the body, mind, and breathing as the scholars did was not enough to cure sickness. They believed that in
order to increase the Chi circulation, you must move. Although a calm and peaceful mind was important for health,
exercising the body was more important. They learned through their medical practice that people who exercised properly
got sick less often, and their bodies degenerated less quickly than was the case with people who just sat around. They
also realized that specific body movements could increase the Chi circulation to specific organs. They reasoned from this
that these exercises could also be used to treat specific illnesses and to restore the normal functioning of these organs.
Many doctors developed Qigong exercises which were modeled after animal movements to maintain health and cure
sickness. Two of the more famous were Hua Tuo’s Five Animal Frolic and the Eight Pieces of Brocade created by Marshal
In addition, using their medical knowledge of Chi circulation, Chinese doctors researched until they found which
movements could help cure particular illnesses and health problems. Not surprisingly, many of these movements were not
unlike the ones to maintain health, since many illnesses are caused by unbalanced Chi. When this unbalance continues for
a long period of time, the organs will be affected, and may be physically damaged. Chinese doctors believe that before
physical damage to an organ shows up in a patient’s body, there is first an abnormity in the Chi balance and circulation.
Abnormal Chi circulation is the very beginning of illness and physical organ damage.
C) Martial Qigong
When Qigong theory was first applied to the martial arts, it was used to increase the power and efficiency of the
muscles. If a person can train his concentration and use his strong Yi (the mind generated from clear thinking) to lead Chi
to the muscles effectively, he can energize the muscles to a higher level and, therefore, increase his fighting effectiveness.
As acupuncture theory became better understood, fighting techniques were able to reach even more advanced levels.
Martial artists learned to attack specific areas, such as vital acupuncture cavities, to disturb the enemy’s Chi flow and create
imbalances which caused injury or even death. In order to do this, the practitioner must understand the route and timing of
Chi circulation in the human body. He also has to train so that he can strike the cavities accurately and to the correct depth.
Although Qigong was widely studied in Chinese martial society, the main focus of training was originally on increasing
fighting ability rather than health. Good health was considered a by-product of training. It was not until this century that the
health aspects of martial Qigong started receiving greater attention.
D) Religious Qigong
In China, religious Qigong includes mainly Daoist and Buddhist Qigong. The main purpose of their training is striving
for enlightenment, or what the Buddhists refer to as Buddhahood. They are looking for a way to lift themselves above
normal human suffering, and to escape from the cycle of continual reincarnation. To avoid reincarnation, you must train
your spirit to reach a very high stage where it is strong enough to be independent after your death. This spirit will enter the
heavenly kingdom and gain eternal peace. This training is hard to do in the everyday world, so practitioners frequently flee
society and move into the solitude of the mountains, where they can concentrate all of their energies on self-cultivation.