Monday, June 13, 2011

Nature vs nurture in chi-kung practice

The fundamental objective of chi-kung practices, such as zhuan zhuang and tai chi, is to achieve a sound body structure (filled with chi). It is interesting to note that all these practices claim they follow a natural route; yet, their objective strives to change what nature bestows on us during birth! The question is: Is chi-kung practice a route of following nature or a route of focusing on nurture?

As I mentioned in previous posts, many prominent tai-chi masters (such as famous Wu-style master TuNan 吳圖南who lived beyond a hundred) said that the reason they took up their practice of tai chi was due to a weak physical body. It is quite different from conventional sports. Nowadays scouts will visit schools, and even kindergartens, and spot potential future athletes. And there are medical tests to predict the future growth of a kid’s body parts so as to ascertain who have a higher chance to become successful future athletes. As I was told it is essential because parents will not like to waste valuable training time on the kids who later might turn out to be without the specific aptitude. In short, these scouts are looking for born or natural persons who have the necessary physique to excel in defined forms of sports. And the coaches nurture what is given by nature.

Chi-kung is quite different. It promises to deliver the following:

“Given a naturally unsound physique, chi-kung can change it into a naturally sound one.”

In Chinese it is oftentimes called: “reborn with a bone-change - 脫胎換骨”. To answer our original question, chi-kung is a route back to nature, or better, back to the best structure that nature can offer. It is important to note that most of us were born with a naturally unsound physique!

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