Qigong in Sui and Tang Dynasties (581 A.D. – 960 A.D.)
Qigong study bloomed in the Sui and Tang dynasties. This is a critical period in qigong history during which qigong was applied extensively for medical purpose and became an indivisible part of Chinese medicine.
Massage therapy inclusive dao yin practice was highly valued during the Sui and Tang Dynasties. There were massage department in the imperial medical bureau at that time, such massage department was the earliest clinical and teaching institution in China’s qigong history, and daoyin played a significant role in the official medical training and practicing then. The development of qigong medicine was greatly promoted, and a large number of talented specialists and qigong books emerged to meet the demand of the public.
An imperial medical doctor in Sui Dynasty, Chao Yuan-fang (巢元方), edited the Treatise on the Origins and Manifestations of Various Diseases (Zhū Bìng Yuán Hòu Lùn, 诸病源候论), which is the first book specialized in etiology, syndromes and patterns, also the first one in qigong medicine. It does not have any medicinals or formulas inside, instead, there are more than 200 daoyin therapies, which are described follow the corresponding syndrome respectively.
Sun Si-miao (孙思邈), a medical scientist in Tang Dynasty whom we call him the “King of Medicinals”, was one of the main persons in qigong medicine during this period. Both of Important Formulas Worth a Thousand Gold Pieces for Emergency (Bèi Jí Qiān Jīn Yào Fāng, 备急千金要方) andSupplement to ‘Important Formulas Worth a Thousand Gold Pieces’ (Qiān Jīn Yì Fāng, 千金翼方) were written by Sun Si-miao. The Important Formulas Worth a Thousand Gold Pieces for Emergencycovers different clinical subjects, including two sections “Breath Regulation Techniques” and “Massage Techniques” in the volume Cultivation of Nature (Yăng Xìng, 养性), which discussed about static qigong and dynamic qigong respectively. Sun Si-miao himself practiced qigong for health cultivation and thus lived over 100 years.
Taoism and Buddhism prospered in Sui and Tang Dynasties, both of the two had great contribution to the development of qigong study. Si-ma Cheng-zhen (司马承祯) was a master of Taoist qigong at that time, he had remarkable contribution to the development of Mind Inducing School and Daoyin School of qigong. Monk Zhi Yi (智顗), the founder of Tian Tai School of Buddhism, wrote Cessation and Contemplation for Beginners (Tóng Méng Zhĭ Guān, 童蒙止观), which had great influence on the development of qigong theories. The three essential elements of qigong practice – mind regulation, breath regulation, and body regulation are originated from “the five harmonious regulation” in this book (which includes diet regulation, sleep regulation, breath regulation, body regulation, and mind regulation). During this period, along with the transmission of medicine and religious culture, there were extensive qigong exchange between China and other countries. On the one hand the Zen practices from central Asia kept coming into China, while the medical, Taoist and Buddhist qigong were introduced to Korea and Japan on the other hand.