A Difference between QiGong and Chi Kung

The name Qi Gong / Chi Kung (氣功) is used since the the 1950ies.

Meaning of the signs:

  1. The sign 氣 (Chi) is composed of the two signs 气 and 米. They represent what is needed for living. Breath and food. During the cultural revolution the signs were simplified. The recent sign for Chi is merely 气 . This could give the impression, it concerns something totally formless. Thereby the Chi is forced into an esoteric corner, where many people want to have it, but where completely and utterly it has no place.

    • 气 means air or spirit
    • 米 means rice

  2. The sign 功 (Kung) is made up of 工 and 力. The sign does not only mean work, it represents that one has an influence on the quality of the work.

    • 工 means power, work
    • 力 means ability, influence

The physician Liú Guìzhēn is said to be the first using it for exercises for health care. The different types partially are very new developments, which are based more or less on millenia-old traditions.

Chi Kung means to fathom out, to understand and to improve the own dynamics of the body while putting attention and awareness in meditation and callisthenics. 

In our cultural area Chi Kung became more and more known in the 1980ies.

We use as a romanisation the notation Chi Kung to emphasize the connection to Kung Fu and thereby to something tangible.

Dàomíng Xióng gives in his book “Yàn Chí Gōng“, translated from Chinese into German by Maik Albrecht in 2014, a pragmatic explanation:

„A lot of people do not believe in a qì (氣), because they take it as something »supernatural«. However it is not a question of believe but an issue of sober/down-to-earth facts. Qì means life energy, and this term includes all the constantly running processes, keeping us alive and in motion. If this flow gets interrupted, we get sick. To not let that happen one has to keep the body healthy through correct training. With the gōng-exercises these processes are stimulated […] The old Daoist, physicians and masters of martial arts as well as the Shaolin monks were people who had observed and fathomed deeply nature and the universe in all their forms of appearance including anatomy. They came early to the conclusion, that everything was based on the same principles. On these principles Chinese medicine, martial arts ant the gong-exercises were developed. […]

The first gōng are already a lot of centuries old. […] To the oldest exercises belongs “The Play of the Five Animals“ (chin. wŭ qín xì  五禽戲 von Huá Tuó (華佗, ca. 145-208), which does not exist in original anymore, and known as well, are the “Eight Brocades“ (chin. bāduànjĭn 八段錦) of General Yuè Fēi (岳飛, 1103-1142). These and similar exercises [...] are essentially meant to maintain vitality. The gōng-exercises belong to the roots of Chinese martial arts. Their fundament is Chinese medicine and the science of health maintenance. [...] The recent types of Qigong are contributing to the misconception, that the old gōng can be used in a sense of pastime.“¹

¹ Dàomíng Xióng, Yàn Chí Gōng, Translation into German Maik Albrecht, 2014, Palisander Verlag, S. 17ff