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Qi Gong and Karate, is it compatible?


I propose today a guest article written by Gilles DONGUY, teacher of Qi Gong, a graduate of the European Institute of Qi Gong (IEQG) and the Federation of Teachers of Qi Gong and Energetic Art (FEQGAE), practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine TCM (FNMTC) and Naturopathy. Nutrition.

Gilles is also the creator of 2 websites that should interest you: Qi Gong for all et Naturopathy in clear

Qi Gong and Karate, is this compatible?

An article by Gilles Donguy

A priori, Karate, martial art and combat sport by essence, seems far from the rather Zen image conveyed by the Qi Gong. As a teacher of Qi Gong, having practiced Judo and Karate for a few years, I naturally wondered: what if the two approaches were complementary? How would it be? Bruno Bandelier kindly proposed the writing of a guest article on to allow me to deliver my opinion on the issue!

The Qi Gong in the clear

But what is Qi? Qi is often equated with " Energy "Or" Souffle But the term (expressed here in Pin Yin[1]) is in fact almost untranslatable ... It is the universal substance that permeates every living thing or not, and which is polarized into Yin and Yang. On this last point, we find that the ideogram of Qi contains in itself the concepts of Yin and Yang :

This concept of Yin and Yang is also found in the symbol of Tai Ji, literally the " Supreme Feast , Often equated with Tao (the way, untranslatable too ...!):


Tai Ji

Note in passing that Tai Chi Chuan (Tai Ji Quan in Pin Yin) wants to simply say " Boxing of the supreme made Is a Chinese martial art says " internal ».

As for Gong »he refers to the notion of Work ». Qi Gong can therefore be translated as " Work on the breath ". But the work Gong "Means here in the sense of a sustained effort, persevering in order to master the different aspects of Qi.

We also find the term Gong to designate a point of acupuncture unavoidable, located in the palm of the hand: Lao Gong, understand " Palace of the Labeur (Where we have the hair in the hand paradoxically, lol!).

We also find it in the Chinese martial arts popularized and Frenchized in Kung Fuwell known but which refers more specifically to Wu Shu.

And finally we must know that the term Kung Fu has extended to other disciplines in the sense of mastery of an art: have a good Kung Fu Guitar, Painting, etc ..

[1] The YIN PIN is the official transliteration of Chinese in the Western alphabet. The old transliterations "T'SI" (EFEO), or "CH'I" (Wade-Giles) are written "Qi" in PIN YIN.

The thousand faces of Qi Gong

The Chinese tradition (especially Taoist) likes to use numbers to strike the spirits or to codify this or that aspect of energetics: 10 000 beings, 64 hexagrams, ... Also when I talk about the thousand faces of Qi Gong, yes I exaggerates ... but probably not enough! Indeed, know that in China, no less than 18000 forms of Qi Gong are referenced! And four methods are officially recommended by the National Association of Qi Gong Administration ... But that's another story.

In addition, it must be understood that the term " Qi Gong Is actually a neologism validated by the Chinese authorities in the 50 years, and which brings together various practices of ancient China, for example:

  • The first term referring to Chinese energy gymnastics is " DAO YIN Which basically means " Driving energy ».
  • The second term is " YOU DONT HAVE ", which means " Expire and Inspire "(Implied the Qi!). So we are here in respiratory techniques.

For example, Qi Gong offers a wide range of aspects in the practice: postures, dynamic sequences, steps, use of sounds, meditation, etc.

Nevertheless, Qi Gong practices can be reduced to two broad categories, which will be discussed later:

  • The external Qi Gong : WAI DAN (External Elixir)
  • Internal Qi Gong : NEI DAN (Internal Elixir)

Note however that the boundary between these two categories is not absolute, any practice including a minimum of one of the two aspects, internal or external ...

What about Qi Gong and Tai Ji Quan?

Before going to Karate, let's see the difference between Qi Gong and Tai Ji Quan, because often the biggest confusion reigns on this subject! Both disciplines are of Chinese origin, but the Qi Qong, as we have seen, is very old (Taoist and Buddhist inspiration in particular), while the Tai Ji Quan is much more recent (Taoist inspiration). If you look at a practitioner of Tai Ji Quan and a practitioner of Qi Gong indulge in their art, there are some essential similarities, including some " slowness In gestures. In fact we will find again the following important common points (non-exhaustive list), integrated in practice:

  • Rooting.
  • Axis and alignment.
  • The fluidity.
  • Gestural coordination, breathing, intention.

Anything that can be found in general in martial arts ...

In addition, both practices are logically based on the same theoretical bases as those inherent in Traditional Chinese Medicine (Qi Gong is a branch of TCM!):

  • Theory of Qi, Yin-Yang, 5 elements.
  • Theory of Meridians and acupuncture points.
  • Theory of the internal organs.
  • Theory of the Three Foci.

We can not do a complete review of the theoretical and practical aspects of Qi Gong as part of this article, but the concepts discussed here are sufficient for our purpose.

That said, an important theoretical aspect to consider in Qi Gong is the notion of Three treasures SAN BAO, namely JING, Qi and SHEN, illustrated by the figure below:

3 Dan Tian (Cinnabar Fields) and 3 Treasures.

It should be noted that Tai Ji, especially the Yang style, is often taught in the West. like "Of Qi Gong : in the sense that martial applications are only approached from a pedagogical and demonstrative point of view (such a movement corresponds to such an attack or parry) but that the implementation in real speed (fights) is little or almost not addressed. Which does not detract from the benefits of the practice!

The use of Tai Ji weapons (stick, sword, etc.) is, however, more concrete from this point of view.

Tai Ji Quan classes frequently include a practice of Qi Gong as a warm-up, and of course both practices can be carried out together ...

So we have some things in common Qi Gong which is a practice of Health and Longevity, and Tai Ji Quan, Internal Martial Art ... Now Karate is an external martial art, Japanese, relatively " Carré As Wu Shu is an external martial art, Chinese, relatively Rond "...

So, if Qi Gong and Tai Ji are " Ass and Shirt », Can we nevertheless find a synergy Qi Gong karate significant? Continuing ...

Karate-do: The way of the empty hand

The empty hand, such is the translation of the term Karate, which with the suffix Do thus designates the path of the empty hand. I will obviously not go into the details of this practice, codified by Gichin Funakoshi, the father of modern Karate (Shotokan) because naturally, Bruno provides a lot on the blog!

But note already and for all practical purposes, that the practice of karate (like most external martial arts) is accompanied by a number of precautions (well explained by various articles and resources of the Blog), for avoid injury, overwork, etc .:

  • Progressive heating (see ABC of warm-ups)
  • Adapted bodybuilding.
  • Stretches according to a suitable timing.

These aspects aim to limit or avoid the potential negative effects of a practice that remains quite explosive and very physical in its application!

So that would bring more the Qi Gong ? This is what we will discover ...

Karate and external Qi Gong "Hard"

We have seen above that one distinguishes the external Qi Gong from the internal Qi Gong. The WAI DAN brings together practices that focus primarily on movement and members.

In an exercise of Wai Dan, Qi is accumulated in the limbs, so that it then flows into the meridians to nourish the organs. This kind of Qi Gong can be static or dynamic (sequences of movements).

But above all it strongly reinforces the defensive Energy (Wei Qi), which circulates on the surface, and thus naturally finds a concrete application in the martial arts ...

Here are some typical examples of Qi Gong Wai Dan:

  • Transformation of muscles and tendons (YI JIN JING)
  • The eight pieces of brocade (BA DUAN JIN)
  • The iron shirt

It should be noted that this " surface reinforcement "Is non-traumatic, and it complements or substitutes in part advantageously more stressful practices such as sometimes found exacerbated in some martial arts (shin strengthening Muy tai if this reinforcement is poorly conducted for example) ...

qi-gong-ba-duan-jin"Tight fist and flaming look increases muscle strength" (BA DUAN JIN)

Karate and static Qi Gong

We find of course in Karate, the notion of rooting and stability through different positions well known to practitioners, including Kiba Dashi.

En Qi Gongthere is a fundamental practice (which can be broken down into several forms), allowing, among other things, in-depth work on rooting: " Kiss the tree (ZHAN ZHUANG)

This posture is maintained for a long enough time, paying particular attention to the maintenance of the vertical axis (the man between sky and Earth), the alignment (of the energy centers), the rooting (thanks in particular to the bending of the legs) , and intention (concentration in lower DAN TIAN for example).

This posture strengthens the Legs, the Size and the Energy of the Kidneys (which stores our constitutional Qi, namely the JING), which is not without reminding the importance granted by the Japanese to " Hara "!

In this connection I often tell my students (lol!): " Better to have a JING Tonic, than a JING Washed ! »

Embrace the tree (ZHAN ZHUANG)

Karate and internal Qi Gong

Martial arts in general, called external arts, can be challenging for the body: risk of tendino-muscular problems, overwork of organs, etc.

However, the practice of soft external Qi Gong, such as the Wu Dan Qi Gong for example, and the more internal practices NEI DAN (Meditations, Microcosmic Orbit, Dan Tian Respiration, Inner Smile) have the effect of regenerating the Organs and Cells possibly abused by harsh external practices.

The sound of the Heart "Ahhhh"

It should be understood that external practices are often synonyms (especially in competition) of blows received at various places in the body: any trauma can cause a blockage of Qi in the region concerned. The practice of Qi Gong (among others) can help remove these blockages.

A Taoist aphorism says, " Whoever does external practices should do Qi Gong. Whoever does Qi Gong can do without external practices! »

Obviously, it is a formula, it is clear that adapted cardiovascular external practices (walking, cycling, martial arts, ...) are beneficial, and the Qi Gong can register then as a complementary and restorative practice.

Qi Gong and Karate: the winning duo!

Well then we can sum up by saying, (it's hardly surprising!) That Qi Gong and Karate are fully compatible. Qi Gong can bring to the karate practitioner:

  • More specific work on rooting, reinforcement of the original Qi (JING)
  • Reinforced Defensive Energy (WEI QI) in a non-traumatic way.
  • The preservation and / or restoration of general Qi and Qi Organs / entrails following intensive external practices.

And if you are a very attached karateka (see only) to the Japanese culture, you probably know that the Qi Gong exists in Japanese version, under the term " Kiko ».

On this, good practices, and that the Qi be with you!

Gilles DONGUY Qi Gong teacher Graduated from the IEQG and the FEQGAE MTC Practitioner (FNMTC) and Naturopathy. Nutrition.

To know more, find Gilles DONGUY :

> Discovering Qi Gong de Y. REQUENA Editions Guy Trédaniel. 2008. 205 p.
> Qi Gong, Chinese Health & Longevity Gymnastics Y. REQUENA Editions Guy Trédaniel. 2009. 311 p.
> Quintessence of Qi Gongde Liujun JIAN to Quimetao Editions. 2005. 245 p.

And you what do you think ? Qi Gong and karate are they compatible? Say it now in a comment below!

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  1. Hello

    I think yes gi gong is complementary and beneficial for health and the body. I practice tai chi and karate both disciplines are perfectly matched. the practice of gi gong requires breathing and relaxation while karate is harder and requires much greater effort. The two experiences seem to me a good thing.

  2. Hello
    All the old kata included qi exercises. Gong. Some gestures are not just martial applications
    Many were working with the breath
    The sport has bcp denature the meaning of the kata

  3. Hello,

    I would like to highlight Kenji Tokitsu and his style, JISEI DO where qi gong takes a very important place in his teaching.



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