Qigong serves as vehicle for China's cultural promotion

2008-01-25 21:01:00 Xinhua English

By Ren Ke and Zhou Erjie

BEIJING, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- "Going abroad" has become a popular phrase in China as its fast growing enterprises are doing more business outside. Traditional Chinese culture is also following this trend. Qigong, one of the cultural symbols, is going abroad to show off the skills which have taken thousands of years to develop.

When Chinese around the world celebrate their Lunar New Year next month, six delegations, organized by the Chinese Health Qigong Association (CHQA), will visit seven countries - Canada, Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Australia and the United States, all places they have never been before.

During the visits, 40 plus trainers of qigong, a system of deep breathing exercises, will demonstrate their skills in squares of big cities, and hold news conferences to introduce this Chinese traditional art of fitness.

According to Zou Jijun, vice president and secretary general of the CHQA, these qigong trainers are professors in sports universities, and state-level trainers from China's provincial areas. In order to better promote Health Qigong, they will also train local trainers so that the trainers can spread the concept abroad.

"Health Qigong is a gem of Chinese traditional culture. Its Chinese characteristics and healthy lifestyle may attract foreigners who are interested in Chinese culture and health," said Zou.

As the double-digit growth of China's economy continues, Chinese traditional culture has become a focus for the outside world. Some typical Chinese symbols, like martial arts, acupuncture and tai chi have spread around the globe.

Qigong (also written as Chi Kung) refers to the type of exercise that manages the health of mind, body and breath. The word consists of two Chinese characters: qi and gong. Qi, as used in the context of the phrase qigong, refers to both the signal that controls the functioning of the body and the actual functions of the body. The word gong is the short form for gong fu (kung fu), which means training with time and effort.

In its 5,000-year history, qigong has absorbed different traditional Chinese cultural schools. The CHQA said that Confucians practise qigong to cultivate mind and body; Taoists and Buddhists do it to transcend worldliness; Chinese doctors use it to cure illness and maintain health; and martial arts practitioners do it to defend and fight attacks.