What is Martial Qigong

Before diving into the full understanding of Martial Qigong, its purpose and what arts are involved in the Attilius version, let’s begin understanding the primary art involved: Qigong. I’d like to note that there is a deep rich history of information on this and other arts associated with it. My goal here on this page is to cover some essentials to get your feet wet.

What is Qigong?

  • Qi = energy which is found in heaven (universe), earth, and every living thing. 
  • Gong = shortened from the term gongfu (related to Kung-Fu and Bruce Lee referenced this term as well), it is defined as energy and time; any study or training that requires a lot of energy and time to learn or accomplish. 

Qigong has a scientific foundation and theory which is a part of Chinese Medicine.  

Qigong, is a practice that has been used by people in China for thousands of years for improvement of their health and wellness. The origins of Qigong stretch back as far as before 2400 BC when a book called, “The Book of Changes” (Yi Jing) was introduced. This book is more commonly known as “I-Ching” today. This book spread the belief that natural energy or power included heaven (tian), earth (di), and human (ren). The three natural powers are what these were called. Each of the three have their own definite rules and cycles; the rules never change and the cycles periodically repeat. By understanding these rules and cycles, you can figure out how to calculate and understand the natural changes of Qi.

After a long period of research and study, Chinese people ended up discovering that through Qigong practice that they could strengthen their Qi (internal energy circulation) through Qigong exercises they created. In turn, this slowed down the degeneration process of the body, providing not only better health, but increased longevity. 

What is Martial Qigong?

Martial Qigong is the mix of, you guessed it, Martial Arts (Kung Fu in this case) and Qigong. Merging of the two art forms began around AD 502-557 during the Liang dynasty. And with that, here is story to share.

An emperor invited a Buddhist Indian prince named Da Mo (whose teachings are also a part of House of Attilius) to preach Buddhism in China. The emperor though decided that he did not like the Buddhist theory Da Mo was preaching, so Da Mo retreated to the Shaolin temple.

Upon arrival to the temple, what Da Mo saw shocked him; the priests of the temple were sick and weak. According to the story, Da Mo decided to go into seclusion for nine years to ponder the problem. When he emerged from his seclusion, he had written two classic books in the qigong field. 

  • “The Muscle Tendon Changing Classic” which taught the priests how to improve their health and change their physical body’s from weak to strong. 
  • “The Marrow/Brain Washing Classic” which taught the priests how to use internal energy or qi to clean the bone marrow strengthen the immune system and blood. The book also taught them how to energize their brain and attain enlightenment (or Buddhahood if you will).

After the priests practiced the MTC exercises they not only improved their health, but greatly increased their strength.

As these exercises were integrated into martial art forms, it greatly increased the effectiveness of their techniques, in additional to creating a five animal styles (tiger, dragon, leopard, snake, crane) of gongfu from watching and studying the way these different animals fought.

For the Martial aspect inside House of Attilius, I’ve decided to heavily lean on the various styles of Muay Boran, due to its compatibility as a Kung-Fu replacement to Qigong. (Muay Boran was developed by a Chinese Monk traveling through Thailand at the time…but that is another story).  

What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine has been and continues to be an integral part of Chinese culture for centuries. It has cemented itself in people’s long struggle against diseases, and made enormous contributions to healthcare and prosperity. It enjoys a high reputation, not only because of its unique Oriental characteristics and remarkable therapeutic effects, but also because of an increasing role in promoting health and well-being, and longevity. 

The origins can be traced back to remote antiquity in China with the formation and usage of  the Yin-Yang theory, Qi and the Five Elements. These distinctive theories were the framework used in ancient China to understand and explain natural phenomena.

  • Qi possesses extraordinary energy and is the source of all things; characterized by ceaseless motion and change. 
  • Yin-Yang was a worldview and methodology in ancient China. It was a rational system to understand and explain nature, through opposites: ex. in time, Yang is daytime and Yin is night. Yin-Yang is pervasive in meaning it is not restricted to any specific thing, but is present in every thing and every phenomenon in the universe. 
  • The Five Elements concerns the movement and changes of the five basic matters of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. This theory came to life when the ancients used the properties and characteristics of the five mentioned substances to represent those of all material things in the universe. Also to use the interrelationship between them to interpret and describe the evolution and complex interrelationship of all material things.

It is said that to learn and practice Chinese Medicine without understanding the philosophical basis is akin to using antibiotics without understanding physiology, pathology or pharmacology. And in doing so will only produce erratic results.  

What is Traditional Thai Medicine?

In Thailand, the Thai healing Arts are officially defined as Thai Traditional Medicine. By Thai law TTM is defined as:

“the medical processes dealing with examination, diagnosis, therapy, treatment, or prevention of diseases, or promotion and rehabilitation of the health of humans or animals, Midwifery, Thai Massage, as well as the preparation, production of Thai traditional medicines and making of devices and instruments for medical purposes.”

TTM is considered a holistic medicinal system where treatments emphasize the balancing of body elements and various other factors, such as seasons, where one lives, and other external elements. It is not considered a major traditional medicine in the world, but it does have a lot of comparability to Traditional Chinese Medicine.

It dates back to the Sukothai period from 1238 to 1377. It originated in Thailand but has many different influences from other cultures and practices from around the world. 

I won’t dive into TTM much for Martial Qigong as the theories differ from TCM and will cause confusion, but I’ve added it because I will be utilizing one of the branches of TTM with training, Thai Yoga. (Note: Thai Massage and Thai Herbal medicine are additional branches).  

What is Muay Boran?

Muay Boran is a traditional Thai fighting martial art that is the mother to the more well-known martial art Muay Thai. “Muay” was the art and science of fighting, developed and visualized by ancient Siamese masters. (Muay Thai officially came about in 1929 as more of an art adjusted for in-ring competition use).

MB first started being developed around the 13th century for soldiers on how to use their body as a weapon in situations of close person-to-person combat. 

There are different styles of Muay Boran developed in specific regions of Thailand, each with different strategies and techniques:

  • Muay Chaiya, Muay Korat, Muay Lopburi, Muay Luang, Muay Uttaraditt or Muay Ta Sao.

In this martial art you utilize your two legs (feet, shins, knees), two elbows, two hands, and head along with grappling. 

At House of Attilius, this art is the compliment to Qigong and brought to life through learning Footwork, Body Weapons, Targets, Strategy (attack, defense, counter), Grappling Skills (locks and throws), and Fighting Fitness. As all arts are designed to evolve, I’ve modified some things from the art to fit how I had envisioned coaching and introducing it.   

What is Conditioning?

For centuries martial and internal arts have served as tools for fitness and self-defense. They have a firm foundation of discipline, fundamentals, and consistency. 

Many of the biomotor abilities required for athleticism, are many of the same required for daily life enjoyment: Speed, Agility, Power, Strength, Flexibility, Mobility, Stability, Balance, Coordination, and Conditioning.

I’ve decided to follow the “Hardstyle” method of training as it fits perfectly within the Martial Qigong frame work.

  • Its based around the Martial Arts tradition of “Force meets Force”
  • It blends the softer movements of the restorative movements of Tai Chi and Qigong.
  • It teaches us to understand tension and relaxation.
  • It demonstrates the Yin-Yang relationship between ballistic movements and the grinding movements using Kettlebells.
  • Turning on extreme tension has value for planks.
  • Allowing yourself to become as loose as possible has a great application in restorative work, flexibility, and mobility training.

If we’re to practice Martial Qigong properly, we need to have an additional layer to help us bulletproof ourselves on our journey- which is done by bringing sports science into the equation in the most basic way to complement Martial Qigong. 

This is not a complete Conditioning program that you would more commonly see. The reason for this is that the Martial Qigong system is designed as the primary focus, while Conditioning is brought in to help strengthen key areas of the body that will be used during practice. Plus, if you have a routine that you already utilize in this area, what is offered under Martial Qigong can be implemented into your lifestyle without disruption as it would be considered an ancillary program.