How I came to Qigong

I have been studying Qigong for 16 years now. I did not have only one teacher, instead I was lucky enough to meet and learn from a few extraordinary people who led me through my journey. Nowadays I keep studying Qigong every moment - learning it from the Nature, which is in the end our only and the best teacher.

Taiwan

Although I studied different styles of Qigong and Kung-Fu for a while before, the development of my current style began very intensely in Taiwan in May 2007. I was attracted to Taiwan to see one of the less known Tai Ji Quan teachers: Grandmaster Wang Jie and his son Howard Wang. The latter spent few years in Australia and could speak very good English, which I found very helpful as my Mandarin which I started learning three months prior to the trip was not so good. I was hoping to find the answers for the questions that were very important to me. I neared my 30th birthday, the "mid-life" mark and still could not find any peace in the life I led, although I had everything a young man was supposed to have - good job, money and nice family.

Grandmaster Wang Jie

With my limited Chinese language ability I spent some time training with Mr. Wang Jie and realised that in his 83 he does not have any strong muscles, however he was multiple times stronger than any of his students. He picked up my interest and showed me how to draw the power from the Earth, bring it up to the Dan Tian and redirect it through the trunk into the hands. He kept saying that I should forget about my muscular strength completely and concentrate on using the power of the Earth. I also tried to push his son, Howard, out of balance but I had a feeling that I may have as well been pushing a street pole. I applied all my force from all direction but he did not move a single inch. Leaving me puzzled, Howard asked me to come couple of days later for a private lesson, and I did.

Howard Wang

Howard did not teach me any more Kung-Fu forms - he said I knew more forms than he did. Instead, he demonstrated how to build up the structure in a way that the person becomes unite with the Earth and he advised how to practice it. He also shown me how a Kung-Fu form (which are nowadays mainly done as a "dance" or a "sport show") with application of this principle of unity, becomes an efficient martial instrument.

It was a weird feeling when I tried to attack him. It was like if I ran into a machine, and the driver was not there. There was no human being there, absolutely nobody to fight with. I felt like a machine myself, a mechanism whose movements are absolutely predictable. The power of my onset was simply turned back against me at the moment of application. He did not fight me, it was me who hit his palms, fists and knees with my face and body, and they also felt strangely hard - a bit like concrete poles wrapped into soft cloth. And there was a constant feeling that he did not do anything himself - he just followed my movements, and I was trapped and beaten up by my own aggression.

In the end he drew my attention to the fact that I am not what I think I am. "Find yourself" - he said, and in the light of his previous instructions I understood it quite physically - that I should at all times know where my weight and my attention are. Probably he meant much more than that though, but those words put me into a whole new state of constant self-reflection and self-observation.

Apart from the words, he obviously did something else to me - it felt like he "transferred" some of this power of knowledge right into my heart. I spent few days before my birthday doing what he said, thinking my head off trying to understand it. I was nearly driven insane by thinking how a person may be just an "empty" conductor of the Earth power, and also about who I really am. For example: Oleg is my name. Information Security consultant is my profession. I am a husband and a father, but that is my family and social position, not me. So, WHO AM I? And then my 30th birthday came.

Heart pain

With a Taiwanese friend of mine we went to celebrate my birthday to a little traditional tea house at Yang Ming Shan, the Sun Mountain near Taipei. I sat there before her, feeling a bit depressed, thinking of the "mid-life" mark and of my future which did not seem very promising to me.

Suddenly my friend put a palm on my forehead and said - "I can feel your heart, it is very painful". And right in that moment I realized that I actually have been suffering from a dull and heavy heart pain for prolonged time already - I just learnt how to not pay attention to it. This was the pain that I put down to the bottom of my heart long ago, and tried to keep it there quiet since then. It was a result of many sad events preceding my escape to New Zealand where I was looking to forget about all that.

I recalled that few months before that, my Medical Qigong teacher in Auckland told me that I have some blockage right there, in the Middle Dan Tian, but I did not pay much attention to her words by then. And now it became so intense so I needed to do something about it urgently. I went to the Long Shan Si, the Dragon Mountain Buddhist temple, prayed there and realised that this is my challenge now to abandon everything and focus all my attention and experience on healing my heart

Meanwhile the pain became sharp and kept me terribly frightened. Urged by the fear, still lacking trust into Western Medicine when it comes to heart issues, I decided not to go to hospital with it. "Nothing can really help me but myself" - I thought. "This is the time when I finally have to face it, there is no escape" - and that was crystal clear to me at that moment.

Heart Healing

I took a train to the East Coast of Taiwan and came to the little deserted beach near Hua Lien where I focused all my efforts on healing the heart by practicing Qigong. Some things I just learnt from Mr Wang and his son, some others I knew from my other teachers. Initially, I settled down on the beach with a sleeping bag and some spare clothes. Practically 24 hours a day, driven by my fears, I practiced dynamic Qigong meditation "following the Qi" and prayed to the God to bring light onto me. When I could not do Qigong anymore - I fell on the sand and went asleep for a few minutes. When I woke up - I continued. On the 4th day one friend of mine tracked me down and came to visit me - I had a little bit of food and then continued again. My friend had some relatives in that area and after some time she persuaded me to move into a little Taiwanese aboriginal village nearby where I could continue my meditation safely.

On the 7th day in the morning I climbed a little hill - Cow Mountain (Niu Shan) adjacent to the village, and there with all my being I suffered a realisation that I AM A COMPLETE FOOL ! Another fool on the hill, I clearly saw that a lot of things I did in my life before was done in a way that almost killed me. I was so sure that I knew everything! I struggled where there was nothing to struggle with. I demanded too much, I was full of vanity, I caused so much unnecessary suffering to many people, friends and family, and now finally - I got myself into this miserable state where I was!

At that very moment my body following the Qi raised itself into the headstand and I thought I was going to die, and I actually wished for that to stop the pain of this realisation. However, the story about a Yogi who died in the headstand position crossed my mind, and instead of the tragic end which I anticipated, I simply fell down into the dirt, rolling over down the hill, laughing like crazy. I was really a fool and I was free - totally FREE, first time in my life.

40 days of practice

My stay in Taiwan lasted 40 days and during the rest of this term I crossed the country, having spent most of the time in Taroku mountains, living in guest-houses of the Christian and Buddhist monasteries. I had some powerful inner experiences during that time. Some of them are widely described in the older Taoist and Buddhist scriptures that now make a lot of sense to me. I encountered nearly all my fears, I struggled with my misbehaved emotions, enforced enormously by the Qi, and my body became slim, dry, young and light - like never before.

Most impressive thing I had however was the "opening of the microcosmic orbit", which for a few minutes fully restored my body to its natural state: my teeth melted down and then assumed their original shape back again, cuts and wounds disappeared, my nose streightened .. and so on and so forth. It was a brand-new body and feeling, and the world suddenly became so quiet and bright - almost unbearable. It revealed to me how much light and color is all around us at all times, but we don't see this being constantly "sleeping", dormant and at the same time hyper-active in our mind.

Although I came out of this state of awakening few minutes later when I had to face the society again, I believe that I lost it to regain it some day. Now I know - I have to achieve it through prolonged and harsh practice which can take me a lifetime.

New Zealand

Through that initial highly intense practice in Taiwan, I was given the ability to perceive the Qi directly. I could feel the acupuncture points and somehow "knew" what needs to be done to break the stagnation and regulate the flow of Qi in myself and others.

After coming back to New Zealand I left my well-paid job at IBM and spent the rest of the year living in a tent, meditating and treating people. I strove to keep my life as simple as possible. I did not only stay in one place - I also traveled to the "places of power" of New Zealand (such as Tongariro National Park) doing Earth healing which helped me a lot to build up my energy. Literally I was "dragged" to these places by the Qi I followed. That was an experience of learning by the Heart, and it continues to be so.

By doing this style of Qigong, the knowledge and powers come from the nature itself. Once your intent to cure is put out, you simplyknow what to do to relieve a particular problem. In Indian systems it is known as "vedana" - the Sanskrit word meaning "intuitive, non-cognitive knowledge". And in Daoism it is believed to be coming from the "Unity of the Heart and Mind".

My Teachers

People who influenced my work the most are;

  • Grandmaster Wang Jie (Wang Chieh) - currently an 83-year old Tai Ji Quan grandmaster who lives and teaches in Taipei, Taiwan. He and his son Wang Huai Xiang generously shown me some fundamental principles of Tai Ji Quan which I still have been practicing. They call the work they do a "restoration of martial arts" teaching people how to apply the essense of Kung-Fu in martial arts and daily life. The term "Kung-Fu" in fact has nothing to do with fighting and actually means "strong skill" in Chinese. Wang family established an Association for Restoration of Martial Arts (AMAR), a non-profit organisation registered in Taipei. The teaching is basically done for free - in the park, every day unless there is a rain.
  • Dr. Sunny Lu, a doctor of Chinese Medicine and Qigong teacher from Beijing. She is a practitioner and tutor of medical Qigong who has a private clinic and class in Auckland. From her I learnt how to apply Qigong in medicine. Mrs Lu practices Qigong style she calls Tian Quan Gong.
  • Mr. Jia Jun Chen - an Assistant Martial Arts professor of Beijing University of Physical Education. Mr. Chen currently lives in New Zealand and has a Kung-Fu class in May Road School, Mt Roskill. He taught me (among other Kung-Fu styles) the foundations of the internal Kung-Fu style known as Xing Yi Quan - Form and Intent boxing. Mr. Chen's Xing Yi Quan lineage is from Sun Lu Tang.
  • Rafael Kuzeyev - a 3rd degree master of the "Golden Flower" traditional school of internal kung-fu, represented in Russia by national school called Zolotoy Tsvetok (Golden Flower). Rafel is currently teaching the system in his hometown of Ufa, Ural mountains region.
  • Dr. Karen Chen, an acupuncturist and herbalist from Liaoning University in China. I have been learning the theory and practice of modern Chinese Medicine from her. Apart from her skill as a TCM practitioner she is a very gentle person able to deal with all sorts of patients and temperaments!
  • Leonid Kartavtsev who for the past 12 years has been working as an instructor of Ryushinkan Aikido (4th dan), Tensegrity (which is a South American version of Qigong) and Traditional Japanese martial art of Katori Shinto Ryu in Moscow. He was my first teacher who got me into the world of martial arts, non-violence, practical Christianity and self-remembering.

My Students

I am amazed how sensitive practically all my students have become, after just a few months of practice. Many of them can already help their children by giving them Qigong treatments. They can sense acupuncture points without learning them from the books, they feel the natural energies, and they can follow the flow to help themselves. Their concentration has improved and their motivations become clearer. It seems to me that by doing Qigong, people start to live in harmony with themselves and the nature, they become aware of their real needs and the needs of others. They become people they always wanted to be. In other words - they become themselves.

Academic

In order to understand intellectually what is happening during a Qigong treatment I also entered the New Zealand School of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and graduated from it as an Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist after 5 years of study. Although I am able to talk in terms of Chinese and Western medicine now, my personal Qigong practice was not affected by these studies at the least.

Although for some people seeing a paper might be convincing enough, in my humble opinion true and deep knowledge of the human nature and balance does not come about through pure academic learning.

Yes, it is a good exercise for the brain to learn the theory and practice of modern Chinese medicine, which was by the way extensively cut down during its merger with Western medicine in China in the times of the Cultural Revolution. However, I truly believe that in order to be a good Qigong healer all you need to do is to practice Qigong and give treatments when you are ready for it.

You are very welcome to our little practice - for a treatment, class, or a talk.