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Chi Kung Explained

This article is written by Lau Gar Guardian Pete Hornby and explains Chi Kung in further detail. The article shown here only includes section 1-4. The full article is available in the members section.

1. What is Chi
2. What is Chi Kung
3. Benefits of Chi Kung
4. Application of Chi


1. What is 'Chi'?
You may have heard the term 'chi' but are not sure what it means. In this article we explain what chi is and also what is the 'daan tin', regarded as the centre for chi in the body.

The simplest explanation as to what is meant by chi is that it is a form of energy. Chi can be regarded as the fundamental component of the universe which also manifests itself here, on the Earth. In this context it is known as 'universal chi'. 

Chi is probably better and more commonly described as a 'vital energy', an energy that is contained in all things. Such things as the wind, mist and of course human beings are all said to contain chi. Indeed, there is often a stated correlation between the notion of breath and that of chi, although chi is more than merely air. Chi flows through the body in much the same way that blood does except that chi flows along paths called meridians and not through veins. 

Chi is regarded as a basic component of the human body and through special breathing techniques and other exercises it is believed that you can cultivate and control your chi. 

There are also special points along the meridians where it is possible to interfere with the flow of chi. These are the points that are used by acupuncturists where the chi can be conditioned, calmed or dispersed (illnesses of all kinds are seen as disturbances in the flow of chi and by correcting this flow the patient's health can be improved). It is forbidden to use needles on some points that are known as 'vital points'. The vital points are frequently exploited by martial artists and it is said that striking these points can lead to an unconsciousness, paralysis or even death. 


Chi is believed to settle in a special point called the 'dan-tien' (daan1 tin4 in Romanised Cantonese) meaning the 'cinnabar field' or 'elixir field', a spot about 8cm below the naval. This point happens to correspond to the centre of gravity of the human body. One of the aims of the respiratory and meditative exercises such as 'chi gung' is to strengthen the chi in the dan-tien. By concentrating chi into the dan-tien the martial artist's stance becomes well rooted and balanced and the mind becomes clear. 

Such internal forms of training are often considered the territory of the soft internal arts but this is not really the case. All martial arts, soft or hard, internal or external, contain components of the other. So even hard arts, like Lau Gar, which are typically associated with breathing techniques centred on the solar plexus also feature techniques that develop the flow of chi and aim to concentrate it in the dan-tien. Incidentally, the use of breathing techniques that make use of the upper chest and solar plexus are said to be useful in generating explosive power although they may lead to rapid fatigue and even a shortening of life. 

The dan-tien,
8cm below the naval 

To be accurate there are actually 3 dan-tien. The upper dan-tien is located between the eyes and is the body's centre of mental and spiritual dimensions. The middle dan-tien is at the level of the heart and is where the emotions are located. The lower dan-tien is that described above and is considered to be the centre of power in the body. 

So there you have it. Chi is a form of vital energy that flows through the body along channels called meridians. Martial arts practice spends some time focusing on this aspect of the body and incorporates exercise devoted to the cultivation of chi. 

2. What is Chi Kung?
Chi Kung is one of the 4 pillars of traditional Chinese medicine:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Chi Kung

Chi Kung comes from the Chinese words "Chi" meaning "Energy" plus "Kung", meaning "work" or "practice". It is a term that describes a Chinese Exercise system that focuses on cultivating and attracting "Chi" or "life-force" energies. Pronounced "Chee Gung", it is a unique Chinese exercise system. Through individual effort, practitioners build up their health and prevent illness by combining discipline of the mind, body and the body's "Chi" (vital force). It is a health orientated art involving the body and mind that helps prevent disease, cures illnesses thus making life more pleasant. Chi Kung enhances the process of delivering 
oxygen to cells and reduces stress. 

3. Benefits of Chi Kung
Benefits of practicing Chi Kung Exercises

  • Quietens the mind
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Regulates breath
  • Cleanses body of toxins
  • Restores energy
  • Strengthens the nervous system
  • Helps maintain a healthy and active lifestyle
  • Balances and enhances the natural healing resources in the human system
  • Healing – self and others
  • Self-massage
  • Movement of limbs

Good health is achieved when equilibrium is maintained; sickness appears when balance is broken. This is the basic law that governs all humans and nature.
One has to reach a peaceful state of mind and be in harmony with his / her surrounding to maintain good health.

4. Application of Chi Kung

  • Medical Healing
  • Martial Arts
  • Spiritual development


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