Qigong or Qi Gong, also written as Chi Kung, is an ancient Chinese tradition and art that has its focus on cultivating, circulating, and harmonizing so-called Qi or Life Energy with the primary purpose to become stronger, to heal oneself, and to increase wisdom and spiritual knowledge.
Qi (or Chi) is usually translated as Life Energy. Gong (or Kung) is described as Cultivation or Work, but definitions include denotations like Practice, Skill, Mastery, Merit, Achievement, or Accomplishment, among others.
The Qigong exercise system consists of sets of coordinated body postures, poses, movements, breathing, and meditation. People practice it across China and worldwide in many countries for fitness, recreation, relaxation, self-healing and moral self-cultivation, preventive, alternative and complementary medicine, for meditation, promoting spirituality, and for martial arts training.
With its origins in ancient Chinese culture and going back at least 1,000 years (depending on the scholars even to 4,000 years ago or more), a very broad variety of Qigong forms and styles have developed which – on top level – perhaps can best be segmented in Inner Qigong (Nei) and Outer Qigong (Wei) forms.
Another classification is that of Dynamic or Active Qigong (Dong Gong), which incorporates slow flowing movements, and Meditative or Passive Qigong (Jing Gong), which focuses on static positions and inner movement of the breath.
The application of Qigong exercises is very diverse. For instance, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Qigong is used for preventive and curative treatments, in Confucianism to support longevity and improve morality, in Daoism (Taoism) and Buddhism it’s part of meditative practices and Qi Life Energy cultivating practices, and in the martial arts it’s used to improve combat competencies.
Today, Qigong training, exercises and practices often integrate many other ancient Chinese or Taoist practices into the art, such as Neidan or Inner Alchemy, Zhan Zhuang or Standing Meditation, and Tao Yin or Taoist Yoga, to name a few.