Qigong 氣功 is the foundation of the Hunyuan Taiji system. Qigong, literally “qi skill,” is a term that, broadly speaking, encompasses the whole of the system. Our goal as practitioners of Hunyuan Taiji is to cultivate skill with qi (the body’s subtle energy, or life force) in order to promote robust health, martial prowess, and spiritual insight. Thus, when practiced properly, Taiji form and push-hands (two person drills) are qigong practices. More specifically, the term qigong is also used to refer to certain types of exercises. We practice sets of these qigong exercises to acquire the skill or “gong” required for proper practice of form and applications. The cultivation and use of this skill is what makes Taiji an internal martial art. Fundamentally, qigong practice is the core of the health, martial, and spiritual benefits of the system.
The Hunyuan Taiji system includes four different qigong sets – groups of movements that are practiced in repetition for specific purposes. These four are Hunyuan Gong, Chansi Gong, Fangsong Gong, and Stick & Ruler Gong. Each of these sets takes an average of an hour to complete. The foundation of all of these is meditation, or “wuji” sitting and standing practice. These qigong methods are more important to practice than Taiji form or push-hands applications. Grandmaster Feng often says, “you can skip practicing quan (form or boxing) for a day, but not gong (internal qi skill).”