For thousands of years, qi gong has been practiced in China. It seems to have started in the Taotang shi, Rao’s tribal society (26th–22nd Century B.C.). At that time, people suffered from stagnation of qi (energy, breath) and blood, and tired muscles and bones due to rain, floods, and cold and humid weather. They did exercises to improve their blood circulation.
In addition, ancient people used to celebrate their memorial, hunting and harvest ceremonies by imitating animals in dance. The movements of the dances were guided by the movements of the animals. Qi Gong was a product of the struggle ancient people had with their environmental conditions and disease. This was somewhat the original qi gong.
During the Shangshou Dynasty (17th Century BC), people had to contend with environmental hardships as well as injuries, lack of adequate food and disease. They developed techniques such as resting with their eyes closed, self massage, patting the body, deep breathing and stretching to fight disease without doctors and medicine. Learning through experience, they passed on these practices from generation to generation slowly beginning the documentation process.
Qi Gong is mentioned in much ancient Chinese literature, indicating that there was a great deal of qi gong knowledge already in existence. The Yi Jing (known in the West as The I Ching Book of Changes) written by Fu Xi in 2852 BC and The Yellow Emperor’s Classic on Internal Medicine (Huang Di Nei Jing) written by the Yellow Emperor (2697-2597 BC) are the two main texts that provide the basis of qi gong energy work.
The I Ching Book of Internal Medicine is one the most important books in qi gong's History. It was classified and organized by Wen Wang, the first ruler of the state of Zhou in 1122 BC. Wen Wang said that Fu Xi had been able to formulate the Yi Jing because he spent a lifetime observing the energetic interaction of the sun, moon and stars with all the various forms that nature took here on Earth. He had studied the behaviour of animals and people, the fluctuations in the weather, and the variations in the seasons. Patterns had been discerned and expressed as variations in the relationship of the forces yin and yang energy, chi.
The Yellow Emperor's Classic on Internal Medicine contains the philosophy and practical techniques that are the foundation of qi gong and the accumulated knowledge of many generations. It states that good health depends on chi flowing smoothly throughout the body, which is what all qi gong techniques are designed to achieve.
Ancient qi gong became very popular in the medical field in the 2nd century BC to 2nd century AD. Qi Gong had already been used to treat diseases and started to attract people’s attention on a fairly wide scale. It was then that the concept of storing qi in the navel area had emerged.
Qi Gong developed rapidly. The first professional treatment unit, Tangshan Qigong Hospital, was established at Tangshan, Hebei Province in 1955. It implemented some clinical observations, summarized the clinical practical materials and popularized the way of "Inner Health Care Gong." It cured chronic intestinal and stomach diseases very well and treated several others such as acute appendicitis, high blood pressure, glaucoma to name but a few.
Qi Gong energy is an ancient system, tried and tested over thousands of years.