Qigong and Wugong

Translator's note: "Today, external appearance is very important to many people. They believe that as long as one looks good, one is healthy. As long as one is moving, one is exercising. These are fallacies. We know that external appearance does not indicate what is inside. The same is true in exercise and sport. There is a common phenomenon we observe everyday. Professional athletes often do not have long careers when compared to average people. This is especially true when the sports they play are very physical. Many athletes have a career that lasts an average of 10 to 15 years and then they are forced to retire due to health problems. Many of these retired athletes come down with immune related diseases when they are in their middle aged. Recently, there are few top athletes die result from heart complication. This is the result of high physical and emotional demands they experience in sports competition. They use up a lot of energy known as "life force" or "qi" in Chinese traditional medicine theory to maintain the physiologic organ functions and they do not supplement enough energy during their careers."

Qigong and Wugong (martial art) are important parts of our Chinese culture heritage. They evolved from the same source. But because of progress in civilization, and the natural tendency to compare and separate thing, people slowly separated and divided the two into two completely different subjects.

When I say that wugong and qigong evolved from the same source, I mean to explain that wugong and qigong were created by prehistoric Chinese to improve the body's condition by balancing the body's Yin/Yang with the environment's Yin/Yang. This was done so one could live a longer and healthier life, survive the struggle with nature, and protect oneself and one's family from invasion from other tribes and attacks from giant beasts. In pre-historical china, life was simple, people survived by hunting and farming.

1. Characteristics
Wugong and qigong share the following characteristics. They both can improve the physical condition and help one to have a better chance to survive the difficult climate and environment. The difference in function is as follows: in qigong one absorbs energy, which is present throughout nature. This energy which is the result of conscious practice and guidance, slowly and progressively improves the physiologic functions. It especially strengthens the power in the immune system to cure diseases and strengthen the body. Wugong on the other hands, through practice and other activities involves the skeleton and muscle groups to improve the condition of the bones, muscle groups, ligaments, and joints as these are essential components needed for success in martial confrontations.

2. Internal vs External
Qigong puts emphasis on internal substances while wugong emphasizes external substances. Therefore, in ancient China, these two exercises were called Neigong (internal work) and Kaigong (external work). It should be said that at the time of their creation, there were no differences among these two components. One supported and complemented the other. However, due to progress in humanity, technology, society and social structure there was no longer a need for everyone to hunt, farm or defended against invasion. People began to separate and divide the work load based on their functions. Slowly and steadily these arts evolved into the separate subjects of qigong and wugong.

The term "qigong" first appeared in the War Period of Chinese history, This represented the fact that qigong had already developed as a specific field of study. Afterward, qigong practice was divided into the Confucian, Buddhist and Taoist schools. Today, there are over a thousand different qigong techniques and styles available. Although today's qigong is different in techniques and styles, the theories, principles and objectives remain the same. All employ methods to regulate the mind, breathing and body of the human while cultivating the three treasures of essence, qi and spirit to improve the physiologic functions, have a healthy body and live longer. It does not matter what style one is practicing. Any technique is generally composed of moving and non-moving exercises. The moving exercises have some specific movements. However, the reason behind the movements is very different compared to the reasons behind wugong and other sports' movements. The movements in qigong are not for martial combat. They are used to strengthen the internal substances such as the skeleton, muscle functions, and to help better cultivate and store energy. In the non-moving exercises, it is better to suppress all extra mental activity so as to more effectively benefit the physiologic organs to refresh and restore themselves.

Wugong is based on physical power as the foundation to maximize the mechanics of physical movement. Wugong has always put emphasis on the external. Therefore, it has always evolved towards physical movement. In pre-historical times, fighting with giant beasts was the major objective of wugong. Later, the emphasis was on defending one's tribe from invasions by other tribes.

Qigong and Wugong evolved following the differences in objectives. Throughout Chinese history, many styles of wugong developed. Especially, in the Tang Dynasty when wugong was employed in large scale war. When wugong reached the Yuan, Ming and Ching Dynasties, there were many styles and they appeared to no longer have any relationship with qigong. However, because they were from the same source and based on human ability, it is difficult for a practitioner to separate them. Today, among the wugong community, practitioners still emphasize the combination of internal and external training and still apply qi circulation for healing. Although they share the same basic meaning, the term "internal" and "qi" spoken here are different than in qigong practice. In qigong practice, the term "internal" has two meanings.
a. It refers to internal powers such as life force or "qi". It is the power for all physiologic functions and the immune system.
b. It also refers to the moral character. It is cognition, mental creativity and activity.

These two meanings are important in qigong practice and are the key to qigong's success. The term "qi" refers to the qi in qigong and the original qi in life. In today's language, it refers to the power and energy inside an object. Our ancestors understood it well. Here are two quotations from the ancient Chinese qigong textbooks written describing the power of this qi. One ancient asked another, "Ancient people live longer. Today people cannot. Why? Is it because of qi?'" Answer: "Qi is life." The term 'life' here is referring to life force. "Qi, is the commander of the blood." "Blood is the mother for qi." "Blood circulates based on qi. The movement of Qi also is dependent on the blood. Blood and qi depend on each other in circulation."

These two quotations describe the relationship between qi and blood. This is similar in comparison between the relationship of power and matter in today's scientific theory in which "Matter is the host of power". In this qi and blood relationship quotation, the "qi is the commander of the blood". It is the reason the blood circulates and provides the energy for the heart to pump the blood. In other words, the qi is the original source of the energy which makes the heart able to beat and the blood to circulate. The blood is matter, it has shape, mass and color, it is the host for the invisible original source or qi. They depend on each other to function.

If one understands the body has internal and external powers, one can understand why qigong can heal diseases and why wugong can strengthen the body's health but is not able to heal diseases, specially diseases related to the internal organs' functions. Internal power refers to the physiologic functions and the immune system. Its function is to maintain all physiologic organic functions, control everything inside the body to maintain balance and the body's regenerative ability. External power refers to physical power. Its function is to support the body's mobility and the movements and control of the four limbs. When people come down with disease, people generally pick qigong exercises over wugong exercises for treatment.

I believed that if a wugong practitioner also practices qigong, the result is much better.

Copyright V. Chu. All rights reserved.