(reproduced from http://shaolin.org/chikung/vital-energy.html)
By Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
Sifu Wong Kiew Kit receiving the “Qigong Master of the Year” award from Professor Steven K. H. Aung at the Second World Congress on Qigong in November 1997. Looking on is the Chairperson of the Congress, Dr Effie Chow
What is chi kung (or qigong)?
Chi kung, spelt as “qigong” in Romanized Chinese, is the art of developing energy, particularly for health, vitality, longevity, mind expansion and spiritual cultivation, irrespective of race, culture and religion.
The term “chi kung” is Chinese, but arts of energy have been practised by different peoples, especially in the past when they were kept as top secrets. The Indians call their energy art “yoga”, the Tibetans “wisdom art”, whereas the ancient Egyptians and ancient Greeks called it “the mystery art”.
Because of cultural and historical reasons, there may be some differences in the methods and emphasis in these different energy arts of different peoples, but they all deal with developing energy, and they all aim at promoting physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health, irrespective of one’s religion.
Various types of chi kung
There are literally hundreds of types of chi kung, because the term “chi kung” is actually a collective name for various arts of energy training.
For example, in the history of chi kung in China, physicians developed energy for healing, kungfu exponents for enhancing combat efficiency, Confucian scholars for mind expansion, and Taoist and Buddhist cultivators for spiritual growth.
Nevertheless, there are large, comprehensive schools of chi kung, such as Shaolin Chi Kung and Taijiquan Chi Kung, where the various different health, martial, mental and spiritual needs are fulfilled.
Different levels of chi kung attainment
Not only there are various types of chi kung serving different needs, there are also different levels of attainment within the same type of chi kung.
Numerous variables that determine the level of attainment include the appropriateness of the methods chosen, the competency of the teacher, as well as the dedication of the student. Obviously, assuming other factors being equal, a superior method, an experienced teacher or a student who practises regularly will produce better result than someone without these advantages.
But what is not so obvious to many people, including most chi kung practitioners today, is the operational level at which one practises chi kung. Chi kung training can be operated at the form level, the energy level or the mind level.
Form, energy and mind in chi kung training
Sifu Anthony Spinicchia of the United States enjoying Standing Zen, which is a high level chi kung bringing mind expansion and spiritual joy.
Although there are thousands of chi kung exercises, they all involve three elements, namely form, energy and mind. These three elements are also the “three treasures” of a person.
In other words, every human has form, energy and mind. Chi kung training develops all these three essential elements of a person.
However, due to various reasons, the great majority of chi kung practitioners today, including in China, practise only the form aspect of chi kung, neglecting the energy and the mind aspects.
Strictly speaking, this is not chi kung; it is only chi kung form, and in terms of giving health benefits I believe it is less effective than conventional physical exercise like swimming, playing field games and working out in a gym.
For convenience, I call this level of chi kung which pays attention only to form, low-level chi kung.
In my opinion, the least a practitioner should have is the energy aspect in order to justify calling his exercise chi kung, i.e. energy training. This is middle-level chi kung, and the practitioner makes a conscious, purposeful effort to influence his energy flow, such as clearing energy blockage and increasing energy level.
In terms of health benefits, middle-level chi kung is far superior to conventional physical exercise, as the benefits are a direct result of its practice, whereas in conventional physical exercise the health benefits come as a bonus.
High-level chi kung is where the mind is involved. After entering into what is known as “a chi kung state of mind”, which is a heightened state of consciousness, the practitioner can manipulate energy the way he wants, like tapping energy from the cosmos and directing it to whatever parts of his body.
At this level, it is beyond comparison with conventional physical exercise. Not only so-called “incurable” diseases can be cured, some masters may accomplish feats which ordinary people would regard as miracles — or fakery.
What disease can practising chi kung overcome?
Low-level chi kung may provide some gentle exercise for better blood circulation, muscle loosening and relaxation, but may not be strong enough to overcome diseases.
Middle-level chi kung may overcome diseases like asthma, tuberculosis, rheumatism, bodily pains, gastritis, insomnia, anxiety and nervousness, and effectively prevents common colds and fevers.
High-level chi kung can cure any diseases, including ulcers, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes and cancer. This is not an exaggerated claim; personally I have helped many people to be relieved of their so-called incurable diseases.
There is also sound medical explanation for the cure. According to Chinese medical philosophy, illness occurs if there is insufficient vital energy to work the natural systems of the body (and mind), or if the flow of vital energy is disrupted.
The forte of chi kung is to increase energy level and to clear energy blockage, thus overcoming the illness, irrespective of what labels may be used to describe its symptoms.