What is Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi?
Tony Austin facilitates Tai Chi workshops at Embody and we asked him for a bit of insight into what Tai Chi Qigong is all about.
For thousands of years the principle of Qi has been part of the discourse in Chinese Medicine and culture. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the human body is seen as being a matrix, or a web, of channels, containing Qi, that run through the body and feed the energetic system of each organ in the body. There are twelve basic channels named after the organs of the body and their function, liver, kidney, stomach etc. These channels can be compared to the rivers of a country. If the rivers are free flowing, then the cycle of life is positive and healthy. If the river becomes blocked then the water, or energy, becomes stagnant and health degenerates. It is these channels that are used in Acupuncture, Tui Na and Shiatsu to heal the energy flow in the body.
“Qi” in Chinese, and according to the principles of TCM, means “life energy’ and refers to our fundamental physical energy. “Gong” means work or practice and so together, “Qigong” means “energy work” or the practice of cultivating life energy. Through the practice of Qigong, the student learns to harmonise body and mind through a greater understanding of how to cultivate their Qi leading to greater health in the body and greater tranquillity in the mind. There are many different systems and schools of Qigong and it would not be practical or helpful to try and learn them all.
Shibashi in Chinese means “18 movements” and is a system of Qigong developed by Master Lin Hou Sheng in the latter half of the Twentieth century, taking some of the movements of the Yang School of Tai Chi and distilling the movements of many different Qigong systems and schools to provide a simple and complete Qigong system. The movements are simple and easy to learn and build into a powerful, gentle form of exercise that takes only ten to fifteen minutes to perform. In a sequence of 18 movements the student gently moves and stretches all of the major energy channels of the body and exercises the muscles of the body. As the muscles are exercised, they relax and habitual tensions are released bringing greater relaxation and relief from stress. As we practice, the body and breath become more synchronised leading a profound sense of calm enabling us to switch off the “busy-ness” of our mind and thus achieve great mental clarity.’