Qigong or Chi Kung is an English form for two Chinese characters: and Gong. The dictionary definition for the word “qi” usually involved the meaning of “breathing”, “air”, “gas” and “vapor” but it can also be used in the context of describing the relationship between matter, energy and spirit. "Qi" or "chi" is also known as a focus point for energy in martial arts.
The dictionary definition for the word “Gong” is force or power with the focus upon achievement and results. The two words are combined to describe systems and methods of “energy cultivation” and the manipulation of intrinsic energy within living organisms.
Different segments within Chinese society have derived a variety of forms of qigong.
The traditional Chinese medical community uses qigong for preventive and curative functions. The Chinese martial arts community considered qigong training an important component in enhancing martial abilities. The religious community, including both Taoist and Buddhist traditions, uses qigong as part of their meditative practice. Confucian scholars practice qigong to improve their moral character. In the 1940s and the 1950s, the Chinese government tried to integrate those disparate approaches into one coherent system with the intention of establishing firmer scientific bases for those practices and as part of the political philosophy of the Cultural Revolution. This attempt is considered by some sinologists as the start of the modern interpretation of qigong science. Through the forces of migration, tourism and globalization, the practice and the promise of qigong has spread from the Chinese community to the world.
The practices of qigong are differentiated by four types of training: dynamic, static, and meditative and activities requiring external aids. Dynamic training involves choreographed movement and applies to physical/mental disciplines such as Tai Chi Chuan, Bagua Palms and Xing Yi Quan. Static training requires the practitioner to maintain the body in a particular posture. Meditative training utilizes visualization, mantra, philosophical concepts such as qi circulation and breath awareness. There are also training methods that involve an external agent such as the ingestion of herbs, massages, physical manipulation or interactions with other living organisms. A qigong system can be composed of one or more types of training.
Qigong is considered to be part of alternative medicine, with positive effects on various ailments. Some researchers are skeptical of some of the claims for qigong and label the subject matter a pseudoscience. In addition, the origin and nature of qigong practice has led to misconceptions and misuses. The abuse of qigong practice had led to the formation of cults and potential psychiatric problems.