Several weeks ago, a student raised his hand in class to ask me what I knew about energy and chi. I warned the class, saying that I had no formal background in chi cultivation, but explained I had been reading a book in which the author discussed chi throughout his 300+ pages in The Power of Internal Martial Arts and Chi: Combat and Energy Secrets of Ba Gua, Tai Chi and Hsing-I by Bruce K. Frantzis.
In it, Mr. Frantzis tells a story at one point about feeling confident in his sparring ability against one of his teachers, only for that teacher to lodge energy in between his shoulder blades. He says the chi required several months of extensive massaging to relieve.
Needless to say, after reading that, to concept of using chi has seemed almost mystical to me. Since it was hard for me to wrap my mind around that idea, I sought out other ways to learn about it, and happened to come across a copy of Simple Qigong Exercises for Health: Improve Your Health in 10 to 20 Minutes a Day. I’d hoped this would help explain chi to me a little better. (Note here: Chi, qi, and ki are all the same thing. Chi kung is also the same as qigong. For the purposes of this review, I will refer to it as qi since that is how it appears in the book.)
For somebody who’s entirely new to qi, I would recommend this book.
“Qi is the energy or natural force that fills the universe,” Dr. Yang writes.
Three types of qi exists: heaven qi, earth qi and human qi. All of these energies must balance, according to the Chinese. Otherwise, we experience natural disasters – earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes – and disease, among other things.
The bulk of this book focuses on the Eight Pieces of Brocade – both sitting and standing versions – exercises developed in China nearly 1,000 years ago by Marshal Yue, Fei in order to improve his soldiers’ health. Yue, Fei is described by Dr. Yang as “a great scholar of the Chinese classics… a brave and shrewd general who skillfully defeated the enemies of his country.”
By using the pieces, Dr. Yang says you’ll activate “the qi and blood circulation in your body, helping to stimulate your immune system, strengthen your internal organs, and give you abundant energy.”
Not only does he explain the theories involved in qigong practice, but he even has pictures to illustrate how to do the actual sets of exercises, plus an extensive glossary and index to help you find what you need.
If you’re like me, though, you’ll probably want the DVD. I’ve found books to be great for learning philosophy and history, but not so great for actual technique.
- Sample PDF – Simple Qigong: Exercises for Health
- Video: Eight Simple Qigong Exercises for Health – The Eight Pieces of Brocade by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming
- The Standing Eight Brocades Qigong: Exercises 1, 2 & 3
- The Sitting Eight Brocades: Exercises 1, 2 & 3
(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in order to review it.)