Chi Gung, sometimes written as Qi Gong, means ‘energy work’ and refers to the internal work of tai chi, as opposed to the purely physical moves or choreography.
Chi gung can be practiced for its own sake or as part of a tai chi practice. Unlike a tai chi form where each move is different from the previous one, chi gung practices tend to do more repetition of simpler movements. This makes it easier for the student both to focus their mind on the basics and allow the body to assimilate the movement principles.
I teach chi gung sets from the Bruce Frantzis system that are designed to integrate with the Wu style. I usually start beginner students on components taken from ‘Opening the Energy Gates’ and ‘Dragon & Tiger’.
The Energy Gates set has 7 pieces that teach:
standing & alignments,
connecting the arms and legs to the spine in Cloud Hands,
staying connected while moving at speed in the 3 Swings,
a basic spine stretch.
Dragon & Tiger’s 7 movements focus on moving energy flows in and through the body, and isn’t that concerned with precise alignments.
Later, when their body has opened up a bit and coordination is better, I teach students a spinal flexibility exercise called ‘The Marriage of Heaven & Earth’.