The Old Myth About Chi
The ancients once thought that 'Chi' was the primordial essence that compose all matters of the universe. In traditional Chinese medicine(TCM), 'Chi' was defined as the function of the human body organs. Chi flow was considered that the functional activities of the organs interacting with each other inside the human body. When the organs are malfunction, it was said to be that the Chi was blocked.

In the ancient time, there was no microscope to study the human body to the body cell level. Hence, the ancients came up with this myth about that the body have meridians or channels to carry out the functions (chi) of the organs. They called the chi flow. Due to the TCM influence of Chi, the Chi Kung masters often use the term 'Chi flow' in their Chi Kung explanations. However, the definition of Chi was not well defined in any ancient text. For example, they often say breathe in the Chi and let Chi flow inside the body. In addition, they also claimed that Chi can be guided to any part of the body by meditation.

Nowadays, people chaotically defined Chi as energy. I said chaotic is because Chi, in the common Chinese language, actually is 'air.' When one says breathe in the Chi, it actually means breathe in the air, but not energy. Hence, it is more convincing that Chi(oxygen), in a form of gas, is flowing in the circulatory system. In technical term, Chi is flowing by the oxygenated blood in the circulatory system. In the contrary, I cannot come to the conclusion that energy is flowing in the body. The only energy I can see is the biochemical energy Adenosine Triphosphate(ATP). ATP does not flow inside the body, it dissipates as soon it was produced.

Western science has pertinent information about the human body cells. Modern science has microscopic knowledge about the mitochondria which generate the biochemical energy by decomposing the glucose with oxygen. This biochemical energy is called adenosine triphosphate(ATP). People who practice Chi Kung may not or do not have the basic knowledge about the energy concept. It seems to me they do not because they are still using the old myth about Chi to explain Chi Kung.

Since Chi Kung involves with breathing which generates a tremendous body energy, have we thought about the Cell Respiration process. It seems to me that breathing oxygen and the energy generated from Chi Kung corresponds to the Cell Respiration process. Here is the basic chemical formula to prove it:

Glucose + Oxygen => H2O + CO2 + Heat + Energy(ATP)
This is a very good indication that the oxygen is from Chi Kung breathing; and the energy is generated from the oxygen and the glucose. By the way, using the Chi Kung abdominal breathing method, the air intake is twenty times more than normal breathing per minute. As a result, more ATP energy can be generate by practicing Chi Kung. ATP energy dissipate in seconds, that is why a constant source of oxygen is required to generate the ATP energy to sustain life.

IMO, people who practice Chi Kung should consider to have some basic knowledge of physiology. In the Chinese Chi Kung society, they have started using the western science for the explanation of the Chi Kung concept. For example, such as body cells and oxygen debt were mentioned in their websites. Thus, it is time to be wise by using the western modern scientific concepts and discard the old Chinese myth about Chi.

Let's consider that Chi is a form of gaseous substance, such as air or oxygen. Practicing Chi Kung makes more sense by saying breathing more air or oxygen, rather than energy. If we say Chi is energy, it is a myth. However, those who are benefited from Chi Kung but do not wish to know any scientific facts about it. They may continue to believe the myth about Chi that is being breathing from thin air.

A little Chi Kung demo for your amusement.

Author's Bio: 

James S. Lee is a practitioner of Tai Chi and Chi Kung for more than thirty years. Since Chi Kung has a great effect on the human body, he is searching for a possible scientific explanation of Chi Kung with Western science. He feels that the old Chinese concept about Chi Kung is very ambiguous. Therefore, there must be another way to explain it for a better understanding. Email: