37 Years Ago
I found a legitimate Qi Gong teacher. This article about ‘A Brief History of Qi Gong’ is now going to shift towards my contemporary experience of the evolution of Qi Gong and how things have changed since then. At the time, Qi Gong and Chinese Martial Arts were exploding worldwide. In China, this time has been referred to as the Qi Gong Fever (Qì Gōng Rè – 气功热 – 1980s and 1990s).
Suddenly, going to the park and doing what your grandparents did was not only fashionable but a government-sanctioned approach to healthy living. There was a necessary proliferation of ‘Masters’ and styles. I have seen videos of people in Spandex, practicing Western Ball Room Dancing as their form of Qi Gong. With, or without music. And, why not?
I have had the good fortune of studying with lineage-holding Masters, and International level coaches for the last 35 years. A lineage, in the Qi Gong and Martial Arts sense, usually means that what you are learning is sourced from a Monastic tradition (like Shaolin), a Spiritual Lineage (mine is the Yi Dao Huan Yuan Pai, which is a Daoist village tradition), or a famous family (Chen family – Tai Chi).
There are a lot of details and distinctions when it comes to the cultural aspects of carrying a formal lineage connection. Because my focus has shifted to the integration of Qi Gong and all of its predecessors with modern clinical Trauma therapy, my relationship with lineages has changed. I still believe that any serious Qi Gong student, or professional, should learn at least one specific skill or form from a lineage-trained teacher. The depth, subtle qualities, and very precise and sequential process, focusing on multiple dimensions of practice, will give a sense of how Qi Gong was taught before the world suddenly needed enough teachers for 100 million curious students.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Qi Gong’s popularity continued to soar, in China, and around the world. Unfortunately, in 1999, the Chinese government instituted a systematic crackdown on qigong organizations, specifically the Fa Lun Gong (A very modern (1992) Spiritual Qi Gong system) to avoid religious conflict.
In the rest of the world, Modern Qi Gong, Monastic and Shamanic Qi Gong, Dao Yin, Nei Yang Gong, Martial Arts Qi Gong, as well as Nei Gong and Nei Dan (Daoist Inner Cultivation), were being studied and practiced and passed on. Many through traditional lineages and occasionally by those on their own path.
I have also trained with several modern teachers who were clearly ‘on their own path’, and intuitively creating their own practices and often mixing them with other embodied consciousness traditions. Like anything creative and new, some people’s inspiration changed many aspects of my practice, and others were just too disconnected from any tradition to be grounded in the tangible world to keep my interest. To each their own.
An aspect of lineage traditions that I choose to avoid, and have chosen to disconnect from in the cultural sense, is that most modern lineages and the traditions around them are essentially a family business, and come from a cultural bias to focus on having strong Ancestors. Which I respect; but I am aware that in the modern Western world, a lot of people tend to use their lineages as a false sense of competency.
The old ways will always be precious, sacred, and relevant. A question I am certain each of the ancient masters asked themselves is, ‘How can be of service to the people around me today?’
I have also met a lot of superficial opportunists who probably learned from a book. They are often doing a great disservice to the Qi Gong world.