Ch'i kung or qi gong (pronounced chee gung and henceforth spelled chi kung) is claimed to be 'the science and practice' of chi. Chi kung literally means energy cultivation. Physical and mental health are allegedly improved by learning how to manipulate chi through controlled breathing, movement, and acts of will. Chi kung masters claim to be able to heal at a distance by manipulating chi. It is even said that one can strengthen the immune system by mastering one's chi.
Most Westerners are vaguely familiar with Kung Fu and Tai Chi, both of which are related to chi kung. The former is a martial art and the latter is a type of exercise, or internal martial art. The former is sometimes known for demonstrations of breaking bricks with bare hands. The latter is known for the graceful poses of its practitioners. These demonstrations, and stories of even more powerful demonstrations, are offered as evidence of the paranormal or supernatural power that comes to those who master chi.
Asian martial arts schools have become very popular in the West. There is certainly a good side to these training centers for children and adults. They encourage attention to diet and physical exercise. They cultivate physical strength and mental self-discipline. Many focus on self-defense, and they boost self-confidence and self-esteem, even if they don't really make one invincible. However, they also often encourage students to believe they can achieve supernatural or paranormal powers, or heal just about any illness by an act of will, by training and discipline under a 'master.'
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