This family of Chinese exercise arts incorporates physical therapy, fitness and strength training, meditation and relaxation. Like the branches of a tree, each has its own form and direction.
(literally ‘energy work’) is a type of physical therapy. Like yoga it incorporates postures, breathing techniques, simple movements, and meditation. There is ‘soft’ qi gong which is gentle and relaxing and is used for reducing stress, rehabilitation, and cultivating longevity; and ‘hard’ qi gong, which is physically intense and is a powerful way to strengthen and condition the vitality of the body and spirit, also promoting health and longevity.
translates literally as ‘work effort’ and refers to putting in a sustained effort at developing a skill over time. Colloquially, the term refers to a family of martial arts that focus on conditioning and training the body to prolong life in the face of adversity. Its roots are in self defense but its benefits include increased fitness, strength, focus and discipline. Kung fu helps us attain and preserve good health.
translates literally as ‘grand ultimate fist,’. Practiced at a slow tempo, it is a moving meditation that incorporates martial and healing applications into a choreographed sequence. It is lauded for its ability to improve balance and focus, reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and help with other symptoms associated with high stress. It is a great form of exercise for seniors, anyone looking to combat the fast pace and high stress of modern life, those recovering from illness or injury, and people looking for gentle, low-impact movement.
Physical activity is an integral part of a happy, healthy life. We should find a practice suited to our individual needs. Kung fu and hard qigong offer conditioning that can prevent debilitation. Tai chi and soft qigong are great for relaxation and rehabilitation. All three modalities reduce stress, improve body function and fitness, and help calm the mind.