Chinese experts of qigong, a traditional fitness exercise, are launching a major push this year to achieve wider international recognition of the practice.
In the first three months this year, the Chinese Health Qigong Association will also send expert teams to Australia, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Canada to hold lectures, performances, training courses and seminars.
Yang Yubing, of Beijing Sports University, was among three experts to leave for a demonstration tour to Los Angeles on Sunday, his third qigong mission to the United States.
In 2002, health qigong was officially recognized as a sports event in China. Its competition standards include the difficulty of movements and body rhythm to accompanying music.
Other Chinese martial arts already have huge following abroad, but qigong has yet to make an impact. As an ancient Chinese health and exercise form, qigong focuses on the adjustment of body gestures, breathing and mental state to improve physical and mental strength.
“Qigong is very different from Western style physical exercises, which focus on muscles, speed, power and stamina. Qigong combines slow-pace aerobics with mental rest to achieve the optimal physical and mental state. Long-term practitioners see improvements in the inner well-being.”
“Martial arts have much to do with attack and defense, but qigong helps achieve a state of inner peace by doing moving the body and controlling breathing, providing relief from the pressures of modern life,” said Yang.
Qigong is based on traditional Chinese philosophy, including the concept of “yin-yang” (dark and light), which symbolizes two unity of opposites that constantly interchange in ultimate dynamic balance.
“With our guidance and explanation, many of my American and European qigong students easily understand and accept these concepts and gradually understand Chinese culture,” Yang said.
Lu Shiming, vice chairman of the Chinese Health Qigong Association, said the association started to send expert teams around Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania and Africa in 2006. Last year, 149 Chinese health qigong experts visited 17 countries and regions.
The members of the LA team are experienced teachers selected from more than 30 colleges.
Qigong is not to be confused with tai chi, which is widely practiced by elderly people and developed from speed-and-power martial arts into a slow-paced and health-promoting exercise, among other forms.
“We hope to present high-level qigong performances and promote sports contacts between China and foreign countries.”
While qigong’s ultimate aim is inner peace, tai chi stresses physical health by moving body and limbs.
China has been strengthening culture promotion in recent years with Confucius Institutes set up in 78 countries to teach Chinese language.
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