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Origin of Chi Exercises

The word chi in Chinese can mean different things. Directly translated, chi can mean "air", "breathing." Moreover, it can have extended meanings such as "energy", "temper", "tension", or "endurance."

Chi breathing exercises, chi kung in Chinese, originated in China, developed over 5,000 years ago by a Taoist priest. It was based on the objective rules of nature with the ultimate aims of preventing and healing disease to achieve longevity. During the Chow dynasty, the first time the ways of breathing and physical exercise reached China was through Bodhidharma's introduction.

The Inner Elixir school of Taoist alchemy, which became widespread during the Sung dynasty, was concerned with the development of physical and spiritual immortality - a pursuit that has been an integral part of high culture in China since ancient times. The Taoist alchemist sought immortality by cultivating intrinsic energy. The tan-t'ien is the reservoir of the chi, and when the chi overflows, it is said to permeate the bones. As the vital principle of nervous system, chi circulates through the body in a perpetual current that flows, in regular cycles, between the opposite poles of yin and yang. When properly channeled and concentrated, chi can become an enormous source of strength. This is referred to as internal strength.

Through the centuries, these chi exercises have been developed further by great masters into various systems. Many of these systems are now available to the Western world. Unfortunately, there are also many variations and dilutions from direct lineages being taught which may lead to the extinction of the original exercises.

We, as practitioners of Yi Chuan, feel that we must pay tribute to its founder, Master Wang Xiang Zhai, and its lineage by passing on the knowledge of its original exercises as they were intended by its founder.

Simplified, the Taoist alchemical formula is as follows:

Sexual energy is turned into chi (vital energy).
Chi is further refined into spirit (willful consciousness).
Spirit is transformed into emptiness.
Through emptiness, the individual becomes eternally one with the Tao (the supreme way of nature).

 

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