Excellent, Chi Gung class held by Cliff on Friday nights
8.00 - 9.00
Cliff has made his class very friendly and informative regarding relaxation and calming methods.

After only three months I thoroughly enjoy the Chi Gung and am starting to feel happier & less stressed with a more positive attitude maybe becoming addicted to that "springy feeling" which comes with it.

Thank you for your support and teaching tips so far and I am looking forward to more classes in the future.

-Lesley Carle

Contact Us

For any enquiries feel free to Email or phone.

Sifu Cliff Alderson
Tel: 07957 221738

IMAS Martial Arts Centre
413 Montrose Avenue
Slough, SL1 4TJ

History of Chi Gung.

Chi Gung has a history in China that goes back over 5,000 years, though very few historical documents still exist today. Chi Gung history can be divided into four periods. The first period, which started when the Yi Jing (I Ching or Book of Changes) was written, sometime before 1120 B.C., extended until the Han dynasty when Buddhism and its meditation methods first came from India. This new knowledge brought Chi Gung practice and meditation into the second period, the religious Chi Gung era. The next era was the Liang dynasty, when it was discovered that Chi Gung could be used for martial arts purposes. Many different martial Chi Gung styles were created based on the theories and principles of Buddhist and Taoist Chi Gung. This period lasted until the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1911; from that point onwards Chinese Chi Gung training was mixed with Chi Gung practices from India, Japan, Korea and some other countries.

Before the Han Dynasty

It was recorded in the Nei Jing that during the reign of the Yellow emperor (2690-2590 B.C.) Bian Shi (stone probes) were already being used to adjust people’s Chi circulation. The Book of Changes is the first known Chinese book related to Chi. It introduced the concept of three natural energies or powers: Tian (Heaven), Di (Earth), and Ren (Man). The initial stage in the development of Chi Gung was to study the relationship of these three natural powers. During the Zhou dynasty (1122-934 B.C.), Lao Tzu mentioned specific breathing techniques in his classic Tao Te Ching (Scripture on the Virtue of the Dao). He said that the way to obtain health was to “concentrate on Chi and achieve softness”. Later, Shi Ji (Historical Record) in the Spring, Autumn and Warring States Periods (770-221 B.C.) also described more complete methods of breathing exercises.

Around 300 B.C. the Taoist philosopher Zhuang Zi described the inter-relationship of health and the breath in his book Nan Hua Jing - “The men of old breathed clear down to their heels” This is not a figure of speech but confirms that a breathing method for Chi circulation was being used by Taoists at that time. During the Qin and Han dynasties (221 B.C.-220 A.D.) there were several medical references to Chi gung in literature, such as the “Nan Jing” (Classic on Disorders) by the famous physician Bian Que, which described using the breathing to increase Chi circulation. “Jin Kui Yao Lue” (Prescriptions from the Golden Chamber) by Zhang Zhong-Jing discussed the use of breathing and acupuncture to maintain good Chi flow. “Zhou Yi Can Tong Qi” (A Comparative Study of the Zhou Book of Changes) by Wei Bo-Yang explained the relationship of human beings to nature’s forces and Chi. Up to this time, most of the Chi Gung publications were written by scholars such as Lao Tzu and Zhuang Zi, or physicians such as Bian Que and Wei Bo-Yang.

From the Han to the Liang Dynasty (206 B.C.-502 A.D.)

Because most of the Han emperors were intelligent and wise, the Han dynasty was a glorious and peaceful period. It was during the Eastern Han dynasty that Buddhism was imported to China from India. The Han emperor became a sincere Buddhist; Buddhism soon spread and became very popular. Many Buddhist meditation and Chi Gung methods, which had been practiced in India for thousands of years, were absorbed into the Chinese culture. The Buddhist temples taught many forms of Chi Gung, especially the still meditation of Chan (Zen), which marked a new era of Chinese Chi Gung. Much of the deeper Chi Gung theory and practices that had been developed in India were brought to China. These training methods were kept within the temples, not taught to laypersons, and only during this century has it slowly become available to the general public. Not long after Buddhism had been imported into China, a Taoist by the name of Zhang Dao-Ling combined the traditional Taoist principles with Buddhism and created a religion called Dao Jiao. Many of the meditation methods were a combination of the principles and training methods of both sources. Since Tibet had developed its own branch of Buddhism with its own training system and methods of attaining Buddhahood, Tibetan Buddhists were also invited to China to preach. In time, their practices were also absorbed.

It was in this period that the traditional Chinese Chi Gung practitioners finally had a chance to compare their arts with the religious Chi Gung practices imported mainly from India. While the scholarly and medical Chi Gung had been concerned with maintaining and improving health, the newly imported religious Chi Gung was concerned with far more. Contemporary documents and Chi Gung styles show clearly that the religious practitioners trained their Chi to a much deeper level, working with many internal functions of the body, and strove to obtain control of their bodies, minds, and spirits with the goal of escaping from the cycle of reincarnation and attaining enlightenment. While the Chi Gung practices and meditations were being passed down secretly within the monasteries, traditional scholars and physicians continued their Qigong research.

During the Jin dynasty in the 3rd century A.D., a famous physician named Hua Tuo used acupuncture for anesthesia in surgery. The Taoist Jun Qian used the movements of animals to create the Wu Qin Xi (Five Animal Sports), which taught people how to increase their Chi circulation through specific movements. Also, in this period a physician named Ge Hong mentioned in his book Bao Pu Zi using the mind to lead and increase Qi. Sometime in the period of 420 to 581 A.D. Tao Hong-Jing compiled the “Yang Shen Yan Ming Lu” (Records of Nourishing the Body and Extending Life), which showed many Chi Gung techniques

From the Liang to the end of the Qing Dynasty (502-1911 A.D.)

During the Liang dynasty (502-557 A.D.) the emperor invited a Buddhist monk named Da Mo (Bodhidharma), who was once an Indian prince, to preach Buddhism in China. Da Mo was the 28th ‘patriarch’ to carry on the lineage after the original Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who lived in India during the 5th century B.C. The Emperor, himself a Buddhist was not prepared for the stark teaching of Bodhidharma which was based on ‘internal cultivation’ rather than simply doing good deeds and reading scriptures to attain enlightenment - so the visit was short. During his time at court, Bodhidharma had heard about the Shaolin temple and decided to travel there. When he arrived at Shaolin he was not readily accepted, especially when he expressed his dislike of holy scriptures and commented on the priests’ weak and sickly condition. Long periods of inactive meditations and very little physical work had made Shaolin monks unwell. Not making himself popular with his criticism, he was asked to leave. But he was determined to enter Shaolin so he looked for a place to stay. Just a short distance from the Shaolin Temple, after a climb up the mountain was a grotto and cave. It is said that he retreated to live there for 9 years. During this time, he was visited by monks (initially secretly) and was supplied with food and water. In this way he was able to demonstrate his knowledge and skill of Buddhism to such a degree that he was finally (after 9 years) re-admitted into the temple. He wrote two classics: “Yi Jin Jing” (Muscle/Tendon Changing Classic) and “Xi Sui Jing” (Marrow/Brain Washing Classic). The Muscle/Tendon Changing Classic taught the priests how to gain health and change their physical bodies from weak to strong. The Marrow/Brain Washing Classic taught the priests how to use Chi to cleanse the bone marrow and strengthen the blood and immune system, as well as how to energize the brain and attain enlightenment. This Marrow/Brain Washing Classic was hard to understand and practice, so the training methods were passed down secretly to only a very few disciples in each generation. After the priests practiced the Muscle/Tendon Changing exercises, they found that not only did they improve their health, but they also greatly increased their strength. As the monks were often attacked and robbed by bandits, shortly after this time they created The Eighteen Hand Movements later named The Eighteen Lohan Shou (Enlightened Hands/Exercises) and these were used as a rudimentary form of kung fu for self defense. This was the earliest form of Shaolin Kung fu. Later on the Shaolin monks also created the five animal styles of Kung fu which imitated the way different animals fight. The animals imitated were the tiger, leopard, dragon, snake, and crane. When Chi Gung training was integrated into their martial arts forms, it increased the effectiveness of their techniques.

Outside of the monastery, the development of Chi Gung continued during the Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907 A.D.). Chao Yuan-Fang compiled the Zhu Bing Yuan Hou Lun (Thesis on the Origins and Symptoms of Various Diseases), which is an encyclopedia of Chi Gung methods listing 260 different ways of increasing Chi flow. The Qian Jin Fang (Thousand Gold Prescriptions) by Sun Si-Mao described the method of leading Chi, and also described the use of the Six Sounds. The Buddhists and Taoists had already been using the Six Sounds to regulate Chi in the internal organs for some time. Sun Si-Mao also introduced the massage system called Lao Si’s 49 Massage Techniques. Wai Tai Mi Yao (The Extra Important Secret) by Wang Tao discussed the use of breathing and herbal therapies for disorders of Chi circulation. During the Song, Jin, and Yuan dynasties (960-1368 A.D.), Yang Shen Jue (Life Nourishing Secrets) by Zhang An-Dao contained several Chi Gung practices, Ru Men Shi Shi (The Confucian Point of View) by Zhang Zi described the use of Chi Gung to cure external injuries such as cuts and sprains. Lan Shi Mi Cang (Secret Library of the Orchid Room) by Li Guo described using Chi Gung and herbal remedies for internal disorders. Ge Zhi Yu Lun (A Further Thesis of Complete Study) by Zhu Dan-Xi provided a theoretical explanation for the use of Chi Gung in the curing of disease.

During the Song dynasty (960-1279 A.D.), a Taoist named Chang San-Feng is believed to have created Tai Chi Chuan, which means ‘grand ultimate fist’. Tai Chi Chuan followed a different approach in its use of Chi Gung than did Shaolin. While Shaolin Kung fu (or Wu Gong) emphasizes Wai Dan (External Elixir) Chi Gung exercises, Tai Chi and the other internal arts that followed, emphasized Nei Dan (Internal Elixir) Chi Gung training.

In 1026 A.D. the famous brass man of acupuncture was designed and built by Dr. Wang Wei-Yi. Before that time, the many publications which discussed acupuncture theory, principles, and treatment techniques disagreed with each other, and left many points unclear. When Dr. Wang built his brass man, he also wrote a book called “Tong Ren Yu Xue Zhen Jiu Tu” (Illustration of the Brass Man Acupuncture and Moxibustion). He explained the relationship of the 12 organs and the 12 Chi channels, clarified many of the points of confusion, and, for the first time, systematically organized acupuncture theory and principles. In 1034 A.D. Dr. Wang used acupuncture to cure the emperor Ren Zong. With the support of the emperor, acupuncture flourished. In order to encourage acupuncture medical research, the emperor built a temple to Bian Que, who wrote the Nan Jing, and worshiped him as the ancestor of acupuncture. Acupuncture technology developed so much that even the Jin race in the distant North requested the brass man and other acupuncture technology as a condition for peace. Between 1102 and 1106 A.D. Dr. Wang dissected the bodies of prisoners and added more information to the Nan Jing. His work contributed greatly to the advancement of Chi Gung and Chinese medicine by giving a clear and systematic idea of the circulation of Chi in the human body.

Later, in the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279 A.D.), Marshal Yue Fei was credited with creating several internal Chi Gung exercises and martial arts. It is said that he created the Eight Pieces of Brocade (Ba Duan Jin) to improve the health of his soldiers. He is also known as the creator of the internal martial style Xing Yi (Hsing- I). Eagle style martial artists also claim that Yue Fei was the creator of their style.

From then until the end of the Qing dynasty (1911 A.D.), many other Chi Gung styles were founded. The well-known ones include Hu Bu Gong (Tiger Step Gong), Shi Er Zhuang (Twelve Postures) and Jiao Hua Gong (Beggar Gung). In this period many documents related to Chi Gung were published, such as Bao Shen Mi Yao (The Secret Important Document of Body Protection) by Cao Yuan-Bai, which described moving and stationary Chi Gung practices; and Yang Shen Fu Yu (Brief Introduction to Nourishing the Body) by Chen Ji Ru, about the three treasures: Jing (essence), Chi (internal energy), and Shen (spirit). AlsoYi Fan Ji Jie (The Total Introduction to Medical Prescriptions) by Wang Fan-An reviewed and summarized previously published materials; and Nei Gung Tu Shuo (Illustrated Explanation of Nei Gung) by Wang Zu-Yuan presented the Twelve Pieces of Brocade and explained the idea of combining both moving and stationary Chi Gung. In the late Ming dynasty (around 1640 A.D.), a martial Chi Gung style, Huo Long Gung (Fire Dragon Gung), was created by the Taiyang martial artists. The well-known internal martial art style Ba Gua Zhang (Eight Trigrams Palm) is believed to have been created by Dong Hai-Chuan late in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911 A.D.). This style is now becoming popular in many parts of the world. During the Qing dynasty, Tibetan meditation and martial techniques became widespread in China for the first time. This was due to the encouragement and interest of the Manchurian Emperors in the royal palace, as well as others of high rank in society

From the End of Qing Dynasty to the Present

There are many hundreds of chi gung styles and systems that have been developed over the centuries by various Masters, doctors of Chinese medicine, in monasteries and medical centers throughout the far-east and several other parts of the world. New systems are also being developed today as modern science enables us to have a more comprehensive understanding of the energies and components involved in Chi Gung.

As the West becomes more aware of the benefits of these gentle exercise and healing systems it is quickly becoming a very popular activity, both in the sports studio and the medical clinic. The IMAS Research Team is currently developing new forms of Chi Gung; some of which synergistically incorporate modern sports science technique, and others which are specifically for Wing Tsun kung fu.


"Qigong has had a profound effect upon my life. Physically and mentally, I am fitter and healthier than I have ever been before; the exercises taught ensure that I start each day refreshed and energized.

With Sifu Cliff Alderson's patient teaching and the support of the other students, it was easy to grasp the concepts of this art."

- Matthew Sin, 16/10/09

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