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Martial Arts in China

Shaolin Temple
Kung Fu exponent

The most influential of these styles is Qigong (pronounced chee gong) which is a Chinese system of physical training, philosophy and preventive and therapeutic health care. Qi (or chi) means air, breath of life or vital essence. Gong means work, self-discipline, achievement or mastery. This art combines aerobic conditioning, isometrics, meditation, and relaxation. Qigong is a discipline whose practice allows us to gain control over the life force that courses throughout our bodies. There are more than 3000 varieties of Qigong, and five major Qigong traditions: the Taoist, Buddhist, Confucian, martial arts and medical. Qigong is thus a soft form of a related set of disciplines that includes Taiji (Tai Chi Quan) and the hard form of Kung Fu.

Most visitors to China will probably only come across a couple of these disciplines such as Tai Chi Quan, as practiced by Chinese elders in parks around the country in the early mornings (good places to watch this in action are Beijing, Chengdu and Hong Kong). The other martial art that visitors come across is Kung Fu, as practiced by Shaolin monks, and which is demonstrated to fascinated visitors at the Shaolin Temple on Song Shan.

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