Qigong is a general name for the systems of hardening and improvement of body and mind, treatment and health enhancement created in China. They primarily based on the ability to control your own consciousness, mentality and through them all the physiological processes of the organism. Practicing Qigong you can achieve stunning results some of which even the powerful modern science cannot conceive and explain.
There are three main categories of Qigong: Health-improving, Fighting and Mystical.
1. It was Chinese physicians who developed and evolved the Health-improving Qigong during many centuries. They created special exercises aimed to preserve and promote health as well as to cure various diseases.
2. Fighting (or Hard) Qigong was developed by those practitioners of Qigong who at the same time were masters of martial arts. These exercises serve to enhance the energy concentration in muscles and other parts of the body allowing to hugely increase the bodily strength and its resistance against the attempts to cause it a physical injury.
3. Mystical Qigong is a child of Buddhist monks and Taosian anchorites. The goal of Mystical Qigong consists in achieving the so called Enlightenment - a special psychophysical state of the human being. Taosian anchorites also developed methods of anti-aging based on Mystical Qigong. Mystical Qigong is the most difficult to master.
Qigong is not only the art of Qi energy control; it trains the mind and helps to work out the ability to control your volitional impulse. Qigong techniques include a huge variety of exercises but they all consist of the three main parts: control of position, control of breath, and control of mind.
Controlling his position, a man can acquire some optimal posture of body which would allow Qi to flow in the organism without delays or blockages not causing any disturbing feelings and removing diseases. The exercises are mostly performed in common stands, for example, in the Rider's stance.
You need to control your breath to let the external Qi (from the air) not only to pass mechanically into the internal state but to spread along energy channels, fully feeding all the organs.
Consciousness is crucial in breath control; it distributes Qi along the body. At the highest stage, the breath is controlled at the level of subconsciousness and do not require too much of your attention.
Step by step learning to control his energy resources, a practitioner will pass from using the physical strength (Li) to the internal burst of effort (Tsin). This internal effort, as Chinese masters believe, is produced not by muscles but in tendons and marrow.
This is the reason why the most of Kung Fu exercises aimed not to increase the mass of muscles but to strengthen tendons and bones. While muscles tend to loose their strength (Li) as the man grows older, masters preserve their internal effort (Tsin) until great age. That's why Chinese masters of Kung Fu say: "If you do not practice Fighting Qigong but train only your physical strength you'll be left with nothing when you grow old enough."
Qigong exercises advance "internal Qi" our organism contains. "Internal Qi" is also called "true Qi". The state of "true Qi" depends on many factors: regular Fighting Qigong exercises, nutrition, mental state, environment, etc. Every human being has internal Qi but only few can use it properly, develop it. The Qi of the vast majority of people is destabilized. The goal of Fighting Qigong is to fill the organism with "true Qi", calm it, make Qi flow along channels freely without obstructions.
So what is Qi after all? According to Chinese notions, it is an energetic substance which represents the foundation of all, i. e. the energetic foundation of the Universe. Our body can be compared to an electric appliance: if it is supplied with electric power it works but if the power supply is cut down the device operation stops. Likewise with the man: if Qi supply of his body is insufficient or it gets stagnant in it, the man gets sick or even dies.
To have a healthy robust body, one needs to learn how to keep the Qi circulation smooth and to be able to accumulate sufficient amount of Qi. To do so, it is necessary to understand the system of circulation and storage of Qi in your organism.
The human body has twelve so called primary channels (meridians) along which Qi is spread across the entire organism. There also exist eight "miraculous" vessels serving as a kind of reservoirs storing and regulating Qi. One end of each channel is attached to one of twelve internal organs while the other end is connected to one of fingers or toes.
These twelve channels supply with Qi energy twelve internal organs. Besides, these channels also take the excessive energy away from internal organs allowing us to through it out of the body. When due to blockage or disease the circulation of Qi along the channels is interrupted, one or several organs cannot get enough Qi which leads to their functional disturbance.
To be healthy, you need to learn how to keep the circulation of Qi in the twelve channels smooth and constantly replenish the "miraculous vessels" with energy.
If you understand the theory of Qi circulation in the human body you will be able to understand how Qi relates to martial arts as well. Remember, your body is not simply a machine it is an organism able to improve itself. The stronger Qi is, the stronger the human body gets.
Fighting Qigong practice sessions serve to enhance the capabilities of your body. We know that using our mind we can control various parts of our own body. The process of control is simple. Our mind generates a thought, and the thought leads Qi to the corresponding parts of the body which perform the requested action. The key thing about Fighting Qigong is in learning to lead your Qi as efficient as it can be. In this case you can increase you strength very much.
Chinese martial arts masters learn to focus their minds through meditation or other kinds of training practice to make Qi obey them easily. This can substantially enhance the strength of a fighter and increase the efficiency of his technique.
Alexander Popov dedicated about 20 years to Shaolin Hung Gar Kung Fu. He is the successor of Hung Gar Kung Fu tradition in the 8th masters' generation. Kung Fu and Qigong articles and ebooks: http://www.shaolin-kungfu-qigong.com