Cached from www.wujiproductions.com/recent_QG_history.htm
By Meng Qing (Université de Montréal)
What is the recent history of Qigong in China? ∞
Qigong is known as an ancient breathing exercise. Its origin can be traced back to at least two thousand years ago in ancient China. The techniques and theories of Qigong have been preserved mainly by traditional health professional and in Chinese religious traditions, but have never entered into the public sphere except for martial arts. Until the beginning of last century, Qigong exercises were developed mainly in relation with health cultivation, religious rituals and martial arts. Such exercises were created and practiced among physicians, elites, Taoist and Buddhist monks, and martial art masters. The techniques and theories were often deliberately kept secret. Traditional Qigong texts are usually written in very difficult and mysterious language and forms, they were usually handed down to a single successor or only to family members. Many techniques are taught through oral communication in order to keep secret from the outsiders. Qigong was never a mass phenomenon.
Today Qigong exercise became so popular in China. Since the 1980s, it is said that nearly 70 percent of China's urban population is involved into Qigong practices. Qigong has become an effective health tool that everybody can have access to. This phenomenon of mass Qigong practice is largely due to the innovation of traditional styles of Qigong from the beginning of last century and the revival of traditional culture in China since the 1970s. This article reviews contributions of two pioneers of contemporary Qigong -- Jiang Weiqiao and Liu Guizhen -- for their efforts first made Qigong exercises became available to the public.
1. Jiang Weiqiao and 'Yinshizi Jingzuofa' ∞
Jiang Weiqiao (1873-1958), born in Changzhou (Jiangsu province), was the author of the famous book /Yinshizi Jingzuofa/ (Yinshizi's method of 'quiet sitting'). Jiang was a well known educator and best known as one of the first Qigong experts who introduced Qigong exercises to the public.
Jiang Weiqiao had weak health since a young age. When he was 28, a severe disease called pulmonary tuberculosis almost killed him and forced him to be isolated. He began to practice a Taoist style of Qigong called 'small heavenly circuit', four times a day for 85 days. This experience changed him into a complete new man -- he has not only recovered from pulmonary tuberlosis but has also been released from all kinds of ill feelings that bothered him for years. He thus continued this 'small heavenly circuit' method for several years and later turned to Buddhist style of Qigong exercises until his death.
Jiang Weiqiao went to Japan for study during his thirties as many Chinese intellectuals of that time. In Japan, 'quiet sitting' was very popular because of the methods created by two Japanese -- Okata and Fujida. Jiang Weiqiao was surprised by the scientific approach adopted by both Japanese and the popularity of their methods that led tens thousands of people to gain better health. In China, Qigong practice was much less known by the public and often misunderstood as being superstitious. When Jiang Weiqiao came back to China, he decided to introduce Qigong as a health tool to the public. In 1914, he published his first book -- Yinshizi Jingzuofa, a method combined the Taoist method 'small heavenly circuit' with his own training experiences. Jiang Weiqiao's method, as he wished, was well received and became the most popular Qigong style of that time. Four years later, he published a sequence in which he added two new methods derived from Buddhist Tiantai style. Since then, Jiang practiced uniquely Buddhist style Qigong -- from Tiantai to Tibetan Buddhist style. During the 1950s Jiang continued to promote Qigong as a tool of keeping health and disease prevention. He worked as the supervisor of the Qigong clinic in Shanghai, gave many public lectures about Qigong and contributed several important publications related to Qigong practice. Jiang Weiqiao died at the age of 85.
2. Liu Guizhen and 'Neiyang Gong' ∞
During the 1950s, Some traditional Qigong experts and practitioners innovated certain traditional styles of Qigong into simpler styles and began to apply them to medical uses. The term Qigong was first used to generalize any breathing exercises and this was an important contribution of Liu Guizhen (1920-1983), the sixth successor of 'Neiyang-gong' ('Inner-Nourishing Qigong').
Due to severe health problems, Liu Guizhen, a communist activist during the civil war, went back for recovering to his home town in the countryside of Hebei province in 1948. There, he began to learn Neiyang Gong from his uncle who was the fifth successor of this popular style of Qigong. Neiyang Gong was created some 300 years ago and has been only taught orally to a single successor of each generation. After practicing Neiyang Gong for 100 days, Liu Guizhen returned to work with full health. Since 1949 -- the founding of People's Republic of China, Liu Guizhen began to work in state own clinics teaching Neiyang Gong to patients with permanent illness. The effects were outstanding, so in 1954 Liu Guizhen established the first Qigong clinic in the city of Tangshan. Liu began to apply Qigong treatment to various illnesses and received significant positive results. In 1956, the clinic was enlarged and moved to the city of Beidaihe where became the centre of Qigong treatment in China. Liu Guizhen published two books related to Neiyang Gong and Qigong treatment in 1957. His contributions lay not only on introducing Neiyang Gong to the public but also on re-examining the popular Qigong methods and applying them to treatment.
Liu Guizhen was forced to stop working in 1964 due to the Cultural Revolution. He was allowed to work again only in 1980 after long time of political abuse. Unfortunately, Liu Guizhen died in 1983 when he was ready to contribute again his experiences and knowledge regarding Qigong exercises and treatment. Neiyang Gong, for the book that Liu Guizhen left, is and will be always available for the public.
From the late 1970s, Qigong exercises came once more to the public as a health tool. The popularity of 'Guo Lin New Qigong', Hexiang Zhuang ('Crane Qigong') and Dayan Gong ('Wild Goose Qigong') marked the return of the powerful Qigong exercises. Between 1980 and now, more than 200 Qigong masters came to the public teaching their techniques. Many of them are allowed to form popular Qigong organizations. There are many schools, publications, clinics and training courses related to Qigong in China. Many Qigong masters also travel to overseas teaching Qigong. Nearly 200 million people are said to practice various styles of Qigong in China today, many are doing so for obtaining better health and longevity. Undoubtedly, without the early efforts of Jiang Weiqiao and Liu Guizhen, the long mysterious Qigong exercises would probably have not become an effective health tool for hundreds millions of people today.