Vol 5, Issue 3/2001
The Daoyin Yangsheng Gong
Interview with Professor Zhang Guang De. By Martin Pendzialek
By Foen Tjoeng Lie
The Daoyin Yangsheng Gong is a Qigong system put together recently aimed especially at the prevention and treatment of illness. As well as different Qigong methods mainly for regulating certain organs such as the heart or the lungs there are also Taijiquan and weapon forms in Daoyin Yangsheng Gong. In an interview with Martin Pentzialek, Professor Zhang Guang De explains how, due to a life threatening illness, he came to create Qigong practises and this system. The combination of movement and concentration on certain acupuncture points or meridians as well as spiral movements aimed at influencing certain points are the characteristics of Daoyin Yangsheng Gong. Professor Zhang also tells us about successes in clinical applications for different malfunctions of the hormonal, coronary and nervous systems, joint complaints and chronic diseases and defines the conditions necessary while practising.
Professor Zhang Guang De is the founder of the Qigong system "Daoyin Yangsheng Gong" (DYYSG). At the Daoyin Yangsheng Gong Centre at the University of Physical Education in Beijing, Professor Zhang and his staff have developed more than 30 exercises which can be used in health care as well as the treatment of diseases. The system is now taught in many countries including Japan, Australia, Singapore, Spain, France, Belgium, Great Britain and Germany. Besides the Qigong exercises, the Daoyin Yangsheng Gong system also includes three Taiji palm forms as well as weapon forms with sword and staff.
Professor Zhang Guang De was born in Thangshan in the province Hebei in 1932. In his youth he enthusiastically practised Chinese martial arts (Wushu) and entered the Wushu Institute at Beijing University of Physical Education in 1955. After successfully finishing his studies in 1959 he lectured at Beijing University of Physical Education and a few years later he was one of the first Professors of Wushu at a Chinese University. Since 1995 Professor Zhang regularly visits Germany to teach DYYSG in lectures and seminars and to support the work of the "Daoyin Yangsheng Gong Association Germany".
Martin Pendzialek: Professor Zhang, Since 1974 you have been developing the Qigong system "Daoyin Yangsheng Gong". What were the reasons for establishing these exercises?
Zhang Guang De: This is a long story. At the end of the Chinese Cultural Revolution I became seriously ill. Nearly all my organs were affected: I suffered from high blood pressure, disorders of the cardiovascular and digestive systems, hepatitis and tuberculosis and the blood, so things looked pretty bad for me. My doctor told me that medicine alone would not be enough for a successful treatment of these diseases. He recommended that I use in addition my experiences in Wushu and Taijiquan to support my treatment. At the beginning I developed eight exercises to treat my tuberculosis; this was the basis for the following "Exercise of 49 Movements to Stimulate Qi in the Meridians. At this time I was only able to lie in bed. In this life-threatening situation I used medicines and these simple exercises until I recovered sufficiently for rehabilitation.
The system of DYYSG belongs to the moving Qigong (Donggong). Would you please describe the structure of the system?
By 1982 I was able to continue my work at the Beijing University of Physical Education and decided to develop further methods to offer to people. First I developed the socalled "standing forms such as heart, lung, stomach-spleen, muscle-bone, kidney, health-preserving and the 49 movements Qigong. For elderly or ill people I developed the sitting forms of the heart, lung, muscle-bone and health-preserving Qigong. In addition there are the forms of brain and eye Qigong as well as exercises to regulate the function of the liver and gall bladder. Moreover, for experienced practitioners of Qigong, there are three Taiji palm forms and a sword form. So there are five levels in the DYYSG system:
- basic exercises and four regulation exercises (body-breathing-mind-Qi/blood)
- exercises for various disorders of various functions
- first and second Daoyin Yangsheng Gong Taijiquan Palm forms (39 movements each)
- Daoyin Yangsheng Gong Taijiquan Sword form (33 movements), staff form
- Simplified DYYSG exercises
Each exercise includes an explanation of the theory on the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as the experiences of practitioners of this exercise. Apart from the proven contents of Wushu and Taijiquan also my own experiences influence this system.
What is the meaning of the name "Daoyin Yangsheng Gong?
Daoyin is the classical name of Qigong which I wanted to continue to preserve. I added the term "Yangsheng to form a unit; to create the name"Daoyin Yangsheng Gong in 1984. The name describes the regulation of body, breathing and mind by the Daoyin exercises to stimulate the meridians and conduct the Qi. It is a form of self exercise to improve physical and emotional health and thus the quality of life.
In terms of Qigong what are the particular characteristics of DYYSG?
The following points are characteristic:
The attention or the mind is regulated by the physical movement combining the exercises with attention. Various methods are used:
- retaining attention on an acupuncture point or area (Yishou)
- conducting attention along the meridians (Yinian)
- practising the Big and the Small Circle
I selected different acupuncture points and areas for different diseases, e.g.. Laogong (pericardium 8) for cardiovascular diseases, Shangyang (Large Intestines 1) for respiratory diseases and Dantian for stomach-intestine diseases.
When practising, attention should be focused naturally, flowing, light as a thread of silk.
When exercising the breathing with the participation of the pelvis should be soft, light, regular and deep. Specific methods are offered for various diseases. For disorders of the cardiovascular system the method of heart Qigong "Calm down heart and regulate circulation can be used; here exhaling is slow and longer. The exercises of the lung Qigong "Benefiting the Respiratory System also emphasise exhaling to support the recovering functions of the body and the activity of alveoli. For disorders of the digestive system, the belly breathing is emphasised which massages the inner organs to support circulation of blood and the flow of Qi in this area.
A further characteristic of DYYSG exercises are the spiralling, wringing movements of the extremities to stimulate certain points at wrists and ankles. During the resting positions and in motion tension and relaxation are combined, as relaxation on its own is not enough to stimulate acupuncture points and meridians. So during exercising a soft stretch without tension is applied. Only through combining softness, slowness and flow of body motion, can breathing and attention be simultaneously regulated. Finally, acupuncture points and meridians are pressed with fingers and massaged with the hands.
The DYYSG exercises are used in China in health preservation as well as in clinical therapy. What experiences and results have there been in the treatment of illnesses?
We already have a lot of experience and results. In the province of Shanxi there is a medical university with attached hospital where DYYSG is used. They report that our methods can regulate various functional disorders of hormonal, cardiovascular and nervous systems, motional disorders and chronic diseases.
For the methods to take effect especially in the treatment of illnesses the following requirements should be met:
- The patients exercise the movements according to the set standards.
- It is important to prepare and post-evaluate the exercises.
- The speed of the movements should be regular.
- The transition with breathing and weight shifting should be done exactly and flowingly.
- The steps should be exercised according to the standards.
- The eye should be combined with the attention on specific acupuncture points.
So the experiences in that hospital show the main principles of Qigong: The movements are combined with the regulation of breathing and attention.
Should the DYYSG exercises be used medically separately, or can they be combined with other therapeutic measures? Are there aspects which people who are ill need to consider when exercising DYYSG?
I think that Daoyin Yangsheng Gong can directly be combined with other therapeutic measures. Of course, medical diagnosis is a very important prerequisite before recommending the right exercise. Also instruction by qualified teachers is needed.
Daoyin Yangsheng Gong cannot replace medical treatment. However, people with chronic diseases are often able to reduce the intake of medicine after consultation with their doctor.
Daoyin Yangsheng Gong has now spread into many countries in the world and is particularly popular in Europe. Because of this positive development a DYYSG association has been founded in Germany. What are your personal wishes and objectives for their work?
My personal wish is that Daoyin Yangsheng Gong is used as a project to preserve health and not as a business. It should support the physical and emotional health of the people in Germany and the rest of Europe. I hope that with the foundation of the Daoyin Yangsheng Gong Association in Germany the cultural exchange between East and West can be supported and that the German Association acts like a window for the other European countries to exchange experiences between the various organisations.
The Chinese moving and martial arts together with traditional Chinese medicine have experienced increasing world-wide interest for some years. What do you think about this development and what should people outside the China pay attention to, to be able to appreciate the effects of these cultural treasures?
The Chinese moving and martial arts have become increasingly popular in the West. I think this is due the high technological and scientific progress in this new century. Every person wants to be in good health and has the right to keep it. The Chinese moving and martial arts offer specific methods to do this and to fight the high stress and the resulting disorders and illnesses, especially found in industrialised countries. Therefore it is necessary to find and restore mans original relation to nature. Peoples need for calmness, balance and nature is directly related to the high developments in technology and science which separate us from natures regulation of lifes laws.
I wish that people in the West will continue to apprehend the background of Chinese arts. There is a difference between the extreme competitive sports with high physical pressure and the traditional Chinese moving arts. Qigong and Taijiquan support physical and emotional health and help preserve life energy and physical functions of the body by slow and soft movements. Qigong and Taijiquan help maintain the inner organs.
I also suggest people continue to support the friendly exchange between cultures and further comprehend the Chinese cultural treasures. These arts offer the possibility to understand Chinese culture through moving exercises.
Professor Zhang, thank you very much for the interview.
Daoyin is the ancient term for energetic physical exercises. With simple routines people practise to conduct Qi within the body.
Yangsheng, which can be translated as "nursing life, is a Daoist term for methods to maintain health. These include taking care of the body, physical exercises, meditation, healthy nutrition, in some schools also include sexual techniques to cultivate energy.
Professor Zhang developed the DYYSG on the basis of the classical theories of Daoyin, the schools to nurse life and longevity. It is also based on the theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Apart from the traditional exercises of Daoyin he further developed new exercises based on his knowledge and experience in Wushu and Taijiquan, also including findings on motion by sports science.
The system of Daoyin Yangsheng Gong offers many different possibilities for movement, suitable not only for ill people and for health preservation, but also for practitioners of Wushu and Taijiquan. Emphasis is also laid on the artistic and philosophical background of the traditional Chinese culture, indicated in the many names of the movements, very often describing stories from Chinese culture.
The system of DYYSG also includes a specific greeting gesture and a "song. The DYYSG song is a separate form, independent from all the other methods, combining various movements of the system with Qigong exercises and Taijiquan movements to present the DYYSG system. The "song therefore has no special therapeutic effect, but is intended as a demonstration form. Professor Zhang composed a poem which accompanies the movements together with the music.
"Health preservation Qigong is read in Chinese as "Daoyin Baojian Gong. The name refers to an exercise with eight movements. Officially this exercise is meant to promote health and prevent illnesses for example of the cardiovascular or digestive system.
The Exercise of 49 Movements to stimulate Qi in the Meridians consists of 49 movements for preservation of health, supporting the immune system and for a targeted treatment of various illnesses, in particular lung, stomach and intestine cancer as well as chronic disorders of the cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive systems.
Brain Qigong is an exercise consisting of eight movements done sitting down and self massage. Apart from protecting against ailments and illnesses such as headache, migraine, trigeminus neuralgia, facial paralysis, tinnitus and deafness can also be treated. The exercises consist of stroking and pushing massage of the face and on the head. Apart from attention to the points, the hand movements are followed attentively.
The interview was conducted with the help of Zhou Jin from the Beijing University of Physical Education who helped with the translation from chinese into german.
Translation: german into english:
and mark atkinson/great britain.
Martin Pendzialek, born in 1964, trained in Daoyin Yangsheng Gong and Taijiquan since 1993 with Master Teng Jian (Cologne / Beijing). Studies of Daoyin Yangsheng Gong and teachers training at the Beijing University of Physical Education from 1998 until 2000. Training in Chen style Taijiquan with Master Yi Xian Jun (Beijing). He teaches Qigong and Taijiquan and is head of training Daoyin Yangsheng Gong at the Centre for Preventative Chinese Medicine e.V. Walluf/Germany.