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Qigong in Modern Times (After 1840 A.D.)

  From Opium War in 1840 to before the establishment of People’s Republic of China in 1949, the entire country was in chaos. With the devastation of economy and traditional culture, the qigong development also underwent stagnation, but with some minor accomplishment, and Chinese qigong has since to appear in Europe.
     Pan Wei (潘霨), a medical scientist also a government official at that time, edited a qigong book named Essential Techniques for Protecting Life (Wèi Shēng Yào Shù, 卫生要术) in 1958. It is suggested in the book that “prevention” is more important than “treating” disease, and qigong practice is indeed the “prevention”. Wang Zu-yuan (王祖源) then replicated this book in 1881 and changed the name to Illustrations of Internal Practices (Nèi Gōng Tú Shūo, 内功图说). The one from Wang Zu-yuan emphasizes the practicing of dynamic routines, and some of the routines inside this book are introduced with illustrations.
     Other medical doctors, includes Wu Shang-xian (吴尚先) who was known for external treatment, Zhang Xi-chun (张锡纯) of the “School of Mastering both Chinese and Western Medicine”, and some others had contributed to the study of qigong as well.
     In the early years of the Republic of China, sitting meditation was popular among the intellectuals, the Yin Shi Zi[1] Sitting Meditation Method (Yīn Shì Zĭ Jìng Zùo Fă, 因是子静坐法) written by Jiang Wei-qiao (蒋维乔) was the most critical work then.
     The establishment of a new China led to the rebirth of qigong and traditional Chinese medicine, which both have a long history. In less than 10 years, a number of qigong-medical institutions were established throughout the country, qigong medicine developed in an unprecedented way and scientific experiments were used in the study of qigong for the first time.
     Liu Gui-zhen (刘贵珍) founded a qigong sanitarium in Beidaihe in March of 1956, and another qigong sanitarium was built in Shanghai on 1 July 1957. The Qigong Treatment in Practice (Qì Gōng Liáo Fă Shí Jiàn气功疗法实践) written by Liu Gui-zhen was published in 1957, and theTreatment of Internal Cultivation Routine (Nèi Yăng Gōng Liáo Fă内养功疗法) written by Tangshan Qigong Sanitarium was published in 1959. These two books played important roles in the promotion and popularization of qigong. After that, a number of qigong forms were studiedand promoted, such as the Internal Cultivation Routine (内养功) in northern China and theRelaxation Routine (放松功) in southern China, and qigong treatment became very popular. 
     The Culture Revolution brought disaster to qigong development, but the situation has been greatly improved since the reformation and opening-up policy in 1978. The qigong study hasbeen resumed and developed rapidly, especially during the 80s ~ 90s of 20th Century, during when there was massive qigong practicing among the public. However, qigong was at the same time exploited by some persons and cults with ulterior motives, so the Chinese government has announced a series of policies to enhance the management of it and guide the overall qigong development. 
     Qigong is a part of the traditional Chinese culture which has thousands years of history. In its long history, many schools have ever appeared, some have worldly visions and some have noble ones. It has many valuable elements for promoting human health as well as some superstitious elements. The traditional Chinese way of thinking focus on experience and care less about logic, so some unscientific or even pseudoscience elements could easily mix in the study of qigong. Our mission is to integrate the different views from different schools and eliminate the misinterpretations, to “extract the essence and eliminate the worthless” and prevent it from being exploited, so that people can learn and understand qigong in a proper way. We wish to promote the role of qigong in the modern age to better serve the health of the entire human race.


[1] Yin Shi Zi is another name of the writer.

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