WILD GOOSE QIGONG SYSTEM OVERVIEW
Wild Goose Qigong is one of China's oldest surviving systems for health, healing and longevity. It is founded on Daoist and Chinese medical principles. This article highlights the inspiration, creation, and development of It also details how Wild Goose Qigong works, as a 'safe' method, and was officially sanctioned by the Chinese government, as well as profiling the late great Grandmaster Yang Meijun, 27th generation inheritor of the family skill, and famous throughout China. There are few, if any, Qigong styles as profound in knowledge and depth of scope or its connection with Dao (Nature).
HOW WILD GOOSE QIGONG WORKS
Wild Goose Qigong is an ancient Chinese method to cultivate Qi (vital energy) for health and vitality, preventing illness and curing, strengthen the constitution, prevent premature aging, and prolong life. It works to open the acupuncture channels and acupoints, to allow the negative Qi to release out, and the fresh Qi to enter. Meditation stores the freshly accumulated Qi. There are many forms and methods within the system to accomplish this, each with their own specific and varied purpose. For example, one may benefit certain internal organs, while another is to develop the Sky-Eye; one may release toxins, another may train the connection between the left and right sides of the body and the brain, or develop healing/ Qi transmission skills.
Wild Goose Qigong also works to harmonize the energies of the internal organs and improve their functions, harmonize Qi and blood, unify body, mind and Qi, as well as to balance the individual with nature (the weathers - heat, cold, damp, dry and wind) or rather the internal body with the external environment. This means it trains the body to be adaptable. To adapt is to survive.
While the meditation methods tend to be more of a static variety, most of the Wild Goose forms are very dynamic, and often challenging, with twisting, stretching, balancing, squatting or jumping movements. Health is not merely a matter of relaxation (which is surprisingly all that a great deal of Qigong out there today seems to offer); it should include fitness, balance, co-ordination, strength and power too. All Qigong's aim should lie in removing the blockages that interrupt Qi flow, and cause pain to be experienced. Qi relates to the body and mind. Wild Goose Qigong trains this connection. If you cannot manage to perform simple co-ordination exercises (brain's Qi as messages reaching the body) can that really be considered healthy, in the full sense of the word; the root lying within the old English 'hael' meaning 'whole'? A person may be able to run a marathon, but if every time he bends down and stands up he feels dizzy, or cannot balance on one leg, or catches colds frequently, suffers insomnia, poor digestion, or regular migraines, can that too really be considered healthy?. Fitness does guarantee health. Many professional athletes have died during the peak of their careers. Health is far more important. However, to be healthy you also need to be fit.
Wild Goose Qigong uses various hand techniques to transmit Qi for self-healing as well as self-massage techniques to move, gather or release Qi. Flat hands, using the Laogong point (center of the palm), guides the flow of internal Qi along specific channels, and combined with wrist pressing, pushes sick Qi out from the palm. Hollow fists are used for grasping and collecting external Qi and bringing to specific points on the body. The Five Finger Plum Blossom Claw (four fingers and thumb connect) connects the Qi of the internal organs and bring it to numerous points including Jianjing, Jianyu, Jingmen, Qihu, Dabao, and Daimai among others. 'Sword-fingers' (formed by the ring and little fingers connecting to make a circle while the index and middle fingers connect in straight line like a sword) act like an acupuncture needle, transmitting Qi in a straight line, like a laser beam, to various points, and even transmitting Qi to the Sky (returning Qi back to Nature). Vibrating (fluttering) hands eliminate sick Qi and accelerate the dredging of the channels, promote blood circulation and relaxation (calming the nervous system) and stimulate the Dantian, liver, spleen, kidneys, and head, or wash down the body, cleansing and purifying, clearing stagnant Qi. All of these as well as rubbing, slapping and tapping the acupuncture points, or patting or stroking along the channels make this an exceedingly high level health skill. There are other 'special' hand gestures in more advanced forms, one of which connects with the Seven Stars of The Big Dipper, and helps open the Sky-Eye.
The First 64 addresses Postnatal Qi, which means the form clears up any problems, illness, or injury acquired since birth. The Second 64 deals with the Prenatal Qi - inherited conditions or weaknesses from the parents passed down through the genetic code. The Second 64 is not only much longer, the energy is quite stronger. This means that if your parents, between them, give you, let's say, eighty year years of life, by practicing Wild Goose (and living a balanced life) you can live well beyond this, in the same way by living a crazy or self-destructive lifestyle, whereby the internal organs are overworked or polluted, you will expire sooner.
Wild Goose aims at strengthening the constitution, rooted in the Lower Dantian, governing sexual (reproductive) energy, opens the heart (compassion, loyalty, sincerity, courage) from the Middle Dantian, and develops wisdom and intuition by opening the Sky-Eye (Upper Dantian). Many movements within the forms relate to these major 'energy centers'.
Wild Goose Qigong concentrates on 108 acupuncture points within the body and also covers the four compass directions, which relate to the internal organs. It employs stretching to maintain the flexibility of the spine, and co-ordination and balance exercises for the brain, that also work to prevent stokes. Practice calms the central nervous system, improves eyesight, promotes blood circulation, and benefits the joints and tendons, to maintain a youthful body. Thus, it prevents premature aging and improves quality of life. Training at specific times makes the exercise even more efficacious. For example, between 3am and 5am Qi passes through the Lung channel, so practicing 'breathing skills' at this time enhances the Qigong effect. From 5am to 7am Qi passes to the Large Intestine channel, which is partnered with the Lung, so early morning is preferred, but any time is good. Ultimately, Wild Goose Qigong works much like a massage and a bath for the internal organs. As Qigong is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Wild Goose especially, employing so many points and working with the channels, really is like a self-administered acupuncture treatment without needles, all the while exercising the entire body, from the internal organs to the joints and bones, with the mind in deep relaxation.
Heart is Mind, Mind is Spirit, and Spirit is Qi. Daoist alchemy discusses conserving coarse Qi, or Jing (the sexual fluids of blood and sperm) and converting it to Qi (vital energy) through 'breath skills' and ultimately transforming Qi to Shen (Spirit). Wild Goose Qigong transforms the base human body, Qi, mind and emotions into something purer, more refined, into a higher energy vibration.
WILD GOOSE QIGONG - ORIGINS
Wild Goose Qigong (Dayan Qigong in Chinese) originated from with the Kunlun Shan (mountain range), west of China, north of Tibet over 1,800 years ago, during the Jin dynasty. Kunlunshan is considered a spiritual place, like the Er Mei mountains, Wudang mountains, and Wu Tai Shan.
Si Dao An, a famous Buddhist monk, is considered the spiritual founder of the style. At some point later it passed to the Daoist monks of Kunlunshan. They had retreated from "the world of dust" to live in harmony with nature and develop themselves. Also co-existing in the mountains were flocks of Wild Geese. And so, with their own knowledge of the internal body, handed down from generations past and profound personal experiences from deep reflection and meditation, they began to observe and imitate the movements of the geese, while noting the effects and feelings on the internal body and Qi.
No doubt, this entire system began with some individual movements, or steps, that we see in the form today such as Wild Goose Pats Water and Flies Away, Flies Over the Sea, Sleeps Peacefully, Looks for Food, Flutters Over the Grass, and Looks For the Nest, and over time they were combined and assimilated into a series of connected movements, with consideration of how Qi passes through the acupuncture channels, as the story unfolds of a Wild Goose as it goes about its life. Over time, successive generations added to the experience, creating new forms with different purposes. During times of peace the monks developed the skill to take health and spiritual training to new heights, and during times of civil unrest and conflicts they developed more the martial arts side.
Wild Goose is influenced by Daoism and Buddhism. In the purest sense neither are religions, nor were they ever intended to be. Daoism is simply living in accordance with The Way (of Nature) and Buddhism simply is an education in the reality of life, how things are and how they come to be.
From Daoism comes Yin/Yang theory and Five Element Theory, upon which all Traditional Chinese Medicine is based, and the Bagua (Eight trigrams/ situations/ directions) which comes from Yijing (Daoist method of understanding Nature and prediction based on Yin and Yang). It is the Bagua that inspired the number of movements within the Wild Goose Qigong First 64 and Second 64 Forms (8 multiplied by 8 - covering all situations and outcomes found in nature).
With Daoism numbers are very significant, and so in the Wild Goose forms numerology plays an important role. Sometimes there may be seven steps, which relates to the 7 stars of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) constellation. The number Five relates to the 5 Elements. The number Eight (circle walking) represents the Ba Gua. The number Three represents Earth, Man, and Sky (Cosmos), corresponding to the Three Dantians, or Energy Centres (Lower, Middle and Upper). Three also signifies 'Many' and Nine (as three squared) represents 'Infinity'. Certain shapes are important too. Straight line walking develops Yang energy. Circle walking connects with Yin energy. The square represents 'Earth' and the circle represents 'Heaven'.
Daoism also stresses actively living 'De' (virtue, integrity, morality) to attain cultivation of the Way, and 'Wu Wei', translates as "Non-action', meaning effortless doing, just as water seeks its lowest level and takes on the shape of the receptacle it fills. The concept is not to dominate, or compete, but to find harmony. Ultimately, Daoism is simply showing us how to follow nature, to be be moral, and to return to Nothing.
From Buddhism comes 'mindfulness', sincerity, compassion and perfecting the character. It concentrates more on the mind and heart. The goal is to attain Perfect, Complete Enlightenment, the perfect state of mind, free from craving, anger, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt; the very afflictions that lead to the endless cycle of rebirth and suffering - birth, sickness, old age and death. Buddha taught the Ten Good Conducts - Physical - No killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct; Verbal - no lying, no abusive language, no bearing tales, and no seductive words; and Mental - no greed, no anger, and no ignorance. Buddhism teaches being respectful to parents, teachers and elders, and compassion with wisdom. Compassion is the antidote to hatred and aversion, wisdom counters ignorance, and non-attachment overcomes clinging and greed. Buddhism recognises that the mind is responsible for everything, and our destiny can be changed through good deeds.
Daoism and Buddhism, though coming from different sources with different approaches, are not incompatible or conflicting. As Daoism uses Yin and Yang to explain constant cyclic change, Buddhism discusses Impermanence - everything created to exist will expire - to help accept things the way they are, thereby avoiding delusion and finding peace. Buddhism teaches about 'Emptiness', and Daoism 'Nothing'. Daoism stresses balance, while Buddhism emphasises The Middle Way. By embracing the philosophies that lie behind the forms and methods the experience of practice becomes deepened, and will ultimately lead you to a higher level of health and spiritual attainment.
Traditionally, the skill became handed down to just one person! And, the next generation inheritor could not begin to pass it on until he had reached the age of 70! Consider the depth of knowledge, and the amount of Qi and level of health personally cultivated, before it was transferred, especially in contrast with today when people learn a little skill over a weekend or so and are compelled to teach, or 'share' with others. This meant that if 'the one' with the sole responsibility to pass it on died before the age of 70 then the entire system died with him, and if he could not attain the task of reaching 70 what good then would the skill be as a longevity exercise anyhow?
WILD GOOSE QIGONG SYLLABUS
The Kunlun Wild Goose Qigong system originally contained 72 forms and training methods. Just about less than half of these have survived intact. That is still an immense amount of skill when you consider than most styles of Qigong or martial art have little more than a handful of forms at most. This is far more than the ordinary person needs to maintain health. This goes far beyond health as absence of illness. And what is beyond health? Tremendous vitality, a boosted immune system that gives the ability to withstand contagious illnesses that others may suffer, the ability to heal fast from injury, longevity, and developing human potential and spiritual training. So, in other words, a greater quality of life - a life free of limitation, independence from doctors and medicine, and higher consciousness, awareness, heightened senses, and deeper inner peace.
For the average person the complete Wild Goose (First 64 and Second 64) is plenty and for many more even just the Wild Goose First 64 is sufficient, as there is so much to understand and remember, and to keep, maintain, and develop to become better. It is said that skill is like money and friends - easy to acquire, harder to keep! This is very true. It just takes one transition to forget and the whole form starts to unravel, much like having a loose thread on your sweater which gets snagged and caught - you fail to notice, keep walking, and very soon you have no sweater.
After Wild Goose, in no particular order here (though there is an order within the Tse Qigong Centre syllabus under which I teach), there is Green Sea Swmiming Dragon, Jade Pillar Gong, Triple Crossing Spiral Gong, Plum Blossom Gong, Plum Blossom Walking Gong, Kunlun Twining Hand Bagua Qigong, Cotton Palm, Five Element Healing Gong, Seven Star Opening Points Gong, Eight Pulling Waist Gong, Healthy Slapping Gong, 28 Constellation Gong, Enlightenment Gong, Long Vision Dan Gong, Sky-Eye Gong, Sun Gong, Moon Gong, Nine Colours Qi Ball Gong, and Crossing Over The Silver River Gong, to name a few. Some of these forms I have still yet to learn from my teacher. They all develop different parts of the body and heal different problems. For example, Cotton Palm helps rid the bones of poison and toxins by walking the Taiji circle and slapping the points and channels. Arthritis, rheumatism, and joint pain are all a result of the toxins and Damp trapped within the bones and marrow. Bagua Qigong works to balance and strengthen the liver, and walking the Postnatal and Prenatal Bagua circles gathers Qi from all the directions. Jade Pillar concentrates on the spine and the heart and Swimming Dragon is especially beneficial for the kidneys.
The Kunlun Wild Goose system contains martial arts too including Dayan Palm, Dayan Fist (5 Element Bagua Fist), Cotton Fist and Dayan Sword, among others. Not many people know this. These also connect with the acupuncture points and channels and teach you how to use Qi to defend yourself. In the past, itinerant Daoist monks, if attacked by bandits, would prefer to control or immobilise their attackers by striking the acupuncture points and blocking Qi instead of killing them with the swords they carried. This is high level martial art. The martial forms make the external body, muscles and bones stronger and the whole body lighter and more agile, and they create internal heat to help withstand the elements. Together with the soft Qigong forms the internal and external body becomes balanced, and traditionally Qigong and martial arts were never so separate as today. Most martial arts contain no internal training, philosophy or character training, and are very Yang, while most Qigong today offers nothing for strength and fitness; it contains no 'fire', so the body becomes too Yin, and weak. At the highest level, Qigong and martial arts become one! Grandmaster Yang Meijun was not known as 'fighter' but had been forced to use her Wild Goose skills in her lifetime to defend herself. Once a local gang of three men threatened her and were found by her students lying unconscious on the floor, as she waited for the police.
If you consider what it takes to be healthy and whole - the different areas that need to be opened for us to develop our human potential - these skills are like a well-stocked medical bag with many compartments inside. Whatever you need you just reach in and take. The more skills we learn and apply the more we have to choose from and the more healthy and whole we can become. Wild Goose equally develops the mind. Certain skills open different parts of the brain including 'dormant' areas that scientists, after all this time, have still not yet figured out, and develop the heart (compassion, humility, patience, trust, courtesy, perseverance etc).
No matter how feverishly you may exercise and strictly diet, you cannot be considered healthy if you cannot control your temper, or are habitually impatient and rude, or take advantage of other people. When the mind is disturbed so too is Qi, then the internal organs lose harmony, and disease inevitably manifests. So, it is impossible to maintain a healthy body with a diseased or distorted mind. The 'heart' must be right! This is why meditation and philosophy together with the exercise make up traditional Qigong, like Wild Goose.
WILD GOOSE QIGONG - A SAFE METHOD
Wild Goose Qigong does not use the mind, or visualisation, to move Qi through the body, unlike many other styles, as this can, in certain cases, lead to 'Qi in Disorder'. Instead, it uses only natural movement, and for this reason it is regarded (especially by the Chinese government - see below) as a 'safe' method of Qigong.
In fact, some Qigong methods can actually cause a variety of side-effects, which is not widely known. The Chinese term for this is 'pian cha'. Side-effects reported can include dizziness, headaches, nausea, chills in the body even when the weather is warm, or hot flushes (the inability for the body to control its own temperature), internal wind, ringing in the ears (tinnitis) or hearing voices, distention at the Dantien or chest, shortage of breath, numbness of limbs, spasms palpitation and restlessness, swelling at the vertebrae, rushing up of Qi, leakage of Qi and emission. I have personally encountered two people at different times that followed Qigong from different books that involved visualisations and they both had harrowing and deeply troubling experiences, as the Qi within their bodies became disordered, exacerbated by the ensuing worry on their minds as they did not understand what was happening to them. Side-effects are the really the result of inferior methods, inadequate instruction, or simply by the student himself not following certain rules for practice, deviating from the principles taught. They can generally be corrected by desisting from the practice, and/or by a Qigong master.
Styles that use the mind in this manner tend to be of a more static variety. The method may be accompanied by some minor hand/arm movement, but the body invariably remains quite upright and immobile, in either standing or sitting postures. The average person today is already more inert and indolent (causing Qi stagnation and blockages) with a mind over-stimulated by caffeine and computer images, all leading to imbalance and insomnia, or anxiety and paranoia. If you are about to spend a day (or have just spent a day) in front of a desk and stuck hours in traffic, and come home does your body need yet more stillness as exercise or movement?
We need to use our bodies more, in different ways to challenge our Qi and adapt, and to still the mind in order to be more healthy and balanced. The more soft and flexible the body the more youthful, and the better the Qi will flow. The Dantian (lower abdomen) is a major junction through which Qi passes. This needs to be kept open throughout life, so that Qi can exchange between the upper body and lower body. Poor posture, inertia, and emotional imbalances all cause it to become blocked. Senior citizens with unstable legs, in need of 'walkers', suffer because the Dantian is blocked and Qi and blood does not properly reach the legs. Also, and very importantly, all the body's joints have a purpose, from the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, hips, knees, ankles and toes; they all need to be exercised so the Qi can pass through them and flow unobstructed. Like door hinges that must be in use, or else they rust or become insect-riddled, if you don't use the joints rheumatism sets in quickly.
So, while some static training is necessary, to balance movement, Qigong should never be completely static. Without proper movement, it does not matter if the Qi is moving under the direction of the mind, the body itself will still become stiff and weak. And when the mind should be trained to be still, empty, and quiet, and allowed to rest and develop instead it is busy trying to sense and move Qi. Have you ever noticed that using mental energy learning a new skill is more often more exhausting than using physical energy from exercise or labour? Wild Goose seems to literally cover every possible way of moving for the body, and even works for the finger joints.
In response to the Qigong 'explosion' that had begun in the late 70's (with The Cultural Revolution over) and the subsequent exploitation by numerous nefarious individuals taking advantage of the general public's interest to learn and lack of knowledge and discernment, the Chinese government stepped in and began to research various styles of Qigong to ascertain their validity and authenticity. The government looked into the thousands of different styles that were being taught. After much research, conducted on the style's history, number of practitioners, medical case histories, recorded benefits, scientific validity, and lack of reported side-effects, they concluded their report and released the official list in 1998. After all was said and done, only eleven made the final cut! With Wild Goose Qigong at the top, the list also named Chinese Intelligence Gong, Empty Spirit Qigong, Enlightening Gong, Gou Lin New Qigong, Happy and Lucky Gong, Heart Gong, Ma Li Tang Six Words Method, Pan Mountain Yin Yang Gong, Yan Xin Gong, and Yuan Ji Gong.
There may well have been other traditional systems but if not uncovered then they have almost certainly been lost for ever. Today, new styles are being created every day, some by true masters (based on their invaluable experience), but more often by unscrupulous people capitalising on the exciting new buzzword 'Qigong', especially in the West!. Skill really needs to stand the test of time. Wild Goose Qigong at over 1,800 years old has nothing left to prove.
WILD GOOSE - INSPIRATION FOR A STYLE
Throughout China's history of martial arts and Qigong observation of various animals' unique energies and natural movements have contributed to a great many styles being created, such as monkey, crane, tiger, snake, praying mantis, among others. The genus of goose that inhabited Kunlunshan, as well as the Himalayas, and inspired the Kunlun monks to create this magnificent system of breathing exercises, was the Bar-Headed Goose. These are no ordinary geese. They are literally, in the words of bird experts, "super geese". The Bar-Headed Goose is one of the world's highest flying birds, having been identified at up to 33,382 feet, way above even Mount Everest. At this altitude flesh freezes, human breathing is impossible, and even helicopters cannot fly. Most other geese manage to achieve 4,000 feet at best.
According to M.R. Fedde, emeritus professor of anatomy and physiology at Kansas State University's School of Veterinary Medicine, who has conducted laboratory studies of the Bar-Headed Goose's respiratory system, partly because their wings are huge, have a disproportionately large surface area for their weight, are pointed to reduce wind resistance and they are powerful flappers they can fly over 50 miles an hour on their own power. With the thrust of tailwinds this could be up to 100 miles an hour! They are able to gauge and correct for drift so they can even fly in crosswinds without being blown off course. Their powerful and constant flapping also generates body heat, which is retained by their down feathers and prevents ice from forming on them. These awesome birds can fly 1,000 miles (with the aid of jetstream) in a single day! Just ponder that for a minute. We would be exhausted covering that sort of distance..... in a car!
They also have special sacs that temporarily store inhaled air which has passed through the lungs and then send it back through their lungs before it is exhaled. Thus, they circulate inhaled air through their lungs twice - once more than earthbound mammals do. This increases opportunities for capturing oxygen. They are true Qigong masters! They enjoy great longevity and immense strength, courage, perseverance and endurance proven by their migrations, covering 2000-3000 miles.
The monks clearly found them to be great teachers. But the lessons the geese have to give us go beyond this. They are very loyal and stay together all seasons. They mate for life and will not go with another unless their partner has died. They are very social creatures, and are never alone. Consider that most neuroses we face in the West have roots in fear of isolation and lack of community and family.
When a goose flaps its wings in flight an 'uplift' is created for the birds following behind.Â By flying in a "V" formation, the whole flock has 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it. When the lead bird tires, it rotates back into the formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it. When a goose gets sick, wounded, or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to help and protect it. They then stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then, they launch out with another formation to catch up with the flock. Their sense of loyalty, community, giving and receiving help, and encouragement, has much to teach us. We need to stick together for survival as we are all interdependent.
So, if we learn Wild Goose Qigong, we should not just think about the movements and their principles, but also the attitude and behaviour of the Wild Geese. Of course, our success with Qigong depends on our own efforts in our personal practice, but we should also take every opportunity to get together with our Qigong 'family'. Sadly, some students become too absorbed with their own busy lives and treat their practice time with a selfish attitude, like their 'Fortress of Solitude'. They miss many chances to get together with their Sifu and brothers/sisters in social situations and isolate themselves rather than becoming part of the larger family. Practicing together outside of class and even just being together socially, beyond merely going to class, picking up skill and leaving, means everyone grows in the same direction and shares the same thinking and attitudes about right behavior and right action and becomes closer, like a family of geese. Loners tend to always fly 'off course' and have different thinking; they never quite grasp the concepts of loyalty, respect, trust and family, and how to behave correctly in certain situations. As they fail to capture and embrace the very nature of the geese, then they fail to become as beautiful, natural, and ultimately as healthy as the geese too.
Animals have much to teach us, but these 'super birds' with their longevity, endurance, loyalty, and compassion for one another are truly shining examples for us all to follow.
GRANDMASTER YANG MEIJUN
27th Generation Inheritor of the Wild Goose System
Yang is her family name, and her given name is Meijun. Her correct and respectful title is 'Grandmaster', in acknowledgement of her true level and contribution. My Sifu, Master Michael Tse, called her 'Nai Nai', which is like Nana (Grandma); such was the closeness of his relationship with her. To me, she is 'Sigong' (teacher's teacher or Grandteacher).
In stature, Yang Meijun was diminutive, under five feet, weighing less than 80 pounds. But her Qi, expressed through her eyes, voice, and spirit, according to Master Tse, was so strong and powerful it was almost frightening. Though she could be strict she was a kind and compassionate teacher.
She was born during the Qing dynasty (back when men had shaved heads and pigtails) and came from very humble beginnings. Her father pulled a rickshaw.
She was 13 years-old when her grandfather, Yang De Shan, took her aside, and informed her that, while a teenager, he met a Kunlunshan Daoist Qigong Master who taught him the Qigong, martial arts, and healing skills that had been passed down only within his family, never taught outside. Customarily, skills were passed down to the sons or male members of a family (as women would marry into other's families), but her father was already into his fifties and as such her grandfather considered him too old to begin learning this profound system, so she was his only choice. He informed her that that she was his chosen successor to become the 27th generation inheritor of the Kunlun Wild Goose skill. The next day, in a special ceremony held in the White Pagoda Temple in Beijing, he made her kneel in front of a statue of Buddha and take a solemn oath that she would not teach or reveal the family skill until the age of 70, as was the tradition. She had to keep the skill secret even from her own parents (grandfather and grand-daughter would practice rigorously in the middle of the night), and even later from her husband, until he discovered missing from her bedside one night and saw her outside jumping about and swooping like a bird on the roof! She confessed to him what she was doing but did not teach him, as she kept her oath.
Over time her body became stronger and healthier. She did not seem to need as much food or sleep as she obtained her Qi through her breathing skills. Her grandfather eventually passed away, and then her mother. The Japanese invaded, and one night her father was stabbed and killed by a Japanese man who refused to pay the fare for his ride. Yang Meijun had no family left, and in order to find work she actually had to disguise herself as a man to work in the salt mines. She became good friends with a co-worker, and when she eventually revealed her true self they fell in love and married, and had a son.
During the Japanese Invasion, as a matter of survival, on one occasion she had to feign death and, as a result, was buried alive. She was forced to hold her breath and rely on her Wild Goose breath training to circulate the Qi. As soon as the Japanese left the area she dug herself out and then saved another person who had been buried alive. During the Cultural Revolution she was criticized as 'superstitious', singled out for harsh treatment and made to stand for hours at a time, shouted at, insulted, and taunted, but she simply treated it all as meditation training. Throughout this terrifying time many Qigong masters were crippled or executed. What an enormous amount of Qigong skill that was lost and could have been shared with the world. How lucky we are today to be able have the Wild Goose skill available to us!
In 1975, with the end of the Cultural Revolution, she began to offer her healing skills to Beijing's population. Throngs of people would line up at Sun Wu Man Park. Word spread like a wild fire and soon she earned the name 'Immortal Yang'. After a year, she was invited by a hospital to dispense her Qigong treatment for a modest income and people even brought their sleeping bags as the lines were so long. While there she came to realise, with all she had seen and experienced, and with changing political times so fragile and uncertain, she could so easily be killed, which meant the skill would be lost forever. She also considered that with all that China had suffered the people needed this skill to keep themselves healthy. It was the right time to open up her knowledge to really help people, beyond just treating them. So, she left the hospital to begin teaching classes. She was now almost 80 years old when she opened the first Dayan Qigong Centre in Beijing. This immediately attracted a great number of students. She began to become very famous and the Chinese government, now keen to restore much of the damage under the Cultural Revolution and help promote the old ways, recognised her and invited her to give seminars for the Chinese Qigong Scentific Research Society. When she moved to Wuhan, at the invitation of the University to teach, she managed to reunite with her son, after losing contact with him during the war. She moved back to Beijing and he learned much from her and also became a Qigong master.
She passed away, leaving 'the world of dust', on July 23 2002 at the age of 104, and leaving behind her valuable and important legacy for all of us. If not for that one major decision to open the skill we simply would not have this treasure. That was an act of great compassion, and a major contribution to the world - a skill for improving the human condition, alleviating suffering and developing a person's potential.
According to my Sifu, Sigong had many special abilities developed from her practice of Wild Goose Qigong. She could see the colours of Qi (auras) and diagnose illness accurately just by observation or placement of hands. She could transmit her Qi to make a person tremble and release the negative Qi, and could make you feel cold or warm. She could transmit five special fragrances from her internal body, including jasmine, and sandalwood, special incense or nut. This is an unusual skill that my Sifu demonstrated for me once. She even demonstrated her skill once to a large group one time by causing the leaves on a tree to rustle when there was absolutely no wind.
Yang Sigong, has to be one of the most recognised Qigong masters that lived in the last century. Her Wild Goose book has been printed in Chinese, English, German and French. She has to have achieved perhaps the highest levels of Human Skill that can be achieved in a lifetime. She was officially recognised by the Chinese government and was invited all over the country. People travelled far and wide, across China, to be either treated by her or to be accepted as a student. She was made Honorary Director of the Chinese Qigong Scientific Research Association, Consultant to Beijing Qigong Research Association and Consultant to the Hudang Boxing Research Association, as well as honorary professor at many universities.
While she was still alive, she happily saw her Wild Goose skill spreading throughout the world, but she also became increasingly aware of many people using her name to promote themselves and exploit the skill, some of whom she may have never even met, and some may have been students of her students, and this was very upsetting to her. The skill, which she had worked so hard to develop, and keep safe, was being exploited by charlatans, desecrated by people that had no business teaching it.
Between opening up the skill and her passing, she taught countless thousands of people, from classes to enormously-attended seminars. However, she publicly endorsed (in writing) only a handful of students that she felt confident to pass on her true high level teachings, having studied with her for a long time and reached a high enough standard, and having proven themselves to be loyal, trustworthy, and respectful. These were my Sifu Michael Tse (UK), Liu Hui Ru (USA), Dai MIng, (Japan), and Chan Kim Fung and Tse Chi Hung (Hong Kong).
The students of these honorable people have a great responsibility to maintain the integrity of the skill, to pass it on correctly, so our ancestor Grandmaster Yang Meijun would be proud. Anyone who practices this skill and gains the immense benefits to be had should never forget about her.
Wild Goose Qigong is one of the last remaining, and most comprehensive and profound traditional Chinese skills in existence today, if not the the only one! For me, and many other practitioners, its value is truly rarer than gold. While I do study and teach other traditional Chinese skills, as my teacher has passed these to me, I have to say that while I enjoy and value them all, as they each have their own special unique characteristics, benefits, and feeling, if I were forced to give them up one by one then the Wild Goose form would be the absolute last.
By living the skill, by which I mean not only practicing every day but following the philosophy, it will keep you healthy and help you recover faster from injury, without the need of doctors or medicine. Grandmaster Yang Meijun used her Qigong to keep her healthy for 104 years, and without anything else, not even vitamin supplements. My teacher is the same, and so am I. If we injure ourselves or catch something contagious we rely only on the skill to recover. To date, the skill has never failed me. You need to trust in the skill, and your teacher, and then put it to the test. If you never test it, and only resort to external forms of treatment how can you possibly ever know how good it really is? (Actually, it is your duty to your teacher and the ancestors to prove them right.) Only with this experience can you come to a high level. It has nothing to do with how many forms you may have learned, how nicely you perform them, or how many years you have studied. Treating the skill just as an exercise to do only in times of good health is a mistake as it becomes empty and devoid of real meaning. Remember, this is an ancient and rare healing skill, and quite possibly the only true definition of the term 'internal medicine'!
Despite the books, videos, internet, and correspondence courses available today nothing can nor ever will substitute the teacher-student relationship when it comes to learning traditional skills such as this, same as it was 1,800 years ago. A deep and meaningful relationship brings a deep and meaningful experience with the skill. What I am about to say, of course, is dependent on the fact that you have a good traditional teacher to begin with, but if you are learning from someone without proper skill or integrity then this really does not apply ....If you want to really know and understand the deeper teachings of the skill and what lies behind the forms you need to really know and understand the teacher (as a person outside of class) and the teacher needs to know and trust you. It is also important to keep your teacher and his/her movements in your mind while practicing. This helps your movement become closer to what it should be and reinforces that 'connection'. Learning the external movements of the form certainly will be of benefit regardless, but ultimately, alone, this can become quite superficial and limited in the long-term without a good relationship. A good and strong relationship with the teacher means you have a stronger relationship with the teacher's teacher (Sigong) too and will bind you to all the ancestors. This way you have the support of the whole family rather than being isolated. Like with any relationship, this takes time and effort (initially the student makes these steps and not the teacher) though, today, few students seem prepared to make any effort, and so, sadly, their experience is not as full, rich or rewarding as it could be and should be.
Finding a good teacher that can help shape the path of our lives is most fortuitous. My Sifu had the rare good fortune to have been introduced to Grandmaster Yang Meijun, and to be accepted by her as an "indoor student". Every day I have a deep sense of gratitude for all my teacher has given me (as well as the Wild Goose ancestors), and I cannot ever imagine my teacher or the Wild Goose Qigong skill not a major part of my life.
A traditional skill survives purely because of its integrity, and the integrity of the skill is wholly dependent on the integrity of those in possession of it. Wild Goose Qigong managed to survive all these centuries because those it had been passed down to had exactly this integrity. They took their responsibility and dedication very seriously indeed. But, in truth, it survived mostly because only one person held it! This view, while shared by me, was actually expressed by Grandmaster Yang. Like with anything, the more popular it becomes the more diluted, and therefore weaker. For hundreds of years inheritors kept the '70 year rule' and used this time to really plumb the depths of the skill, but today, how many people could just commit to the practice everyday, let alone keeping it secret for that amount of time? Especially, when you can see countless 'performances' on 'Youtube' by people that seemingly have just learned the form, and (clear to anyone with good foundations) performing it in ways that look unwittingly hazardous to health because they are not following the correct movement principles and missing the right energy and attitude. Bad skill can go back many generations. The Chinese have a saying, "If you drink the water, consider the source".
Wild Goose Qigong contains an overwhelming body of ancient wisdom, knowledge and human experience that needs to be preserved, especially in this age where people are completely out-of-touch with Nature, their bodies (more heart disease, obesity and cancer) and their minds (mass Attention Deficit Disorder and depression) and in which drugs are over-prescribed by doctors, with no idea of Qi and the internal body, that are treated like demigods by the masses. Wild Goose is necessary now perhaps more than ever. It lies beyond an exercise for vital energy cultivation, and sickness prevention; it is Life and Character Training, training the heart and mind, to be a moral person, and overcome life's difficulties with fortitude and a positive attitude.
People can be attracted to Wild Goose Qigong as they want to learn to open the Sky-Eye or they hear about the healing methods, but more important is to really achieve health first, and ultimately Wild Goose Qigong is not as much for these things as understanding and living Dao (following Nature), and 'listening' to our bodies. This all sounds very straightforward enough, but so many students all too easily miss this principle. They do not practice enough meditation and so the mind becomes unsettled and unruly, and the emotions become unbalanced, which has toxic affects on Qi and the internal organs. Many live their lives out of balance, working too hard, with not enough sleep, use up all their good Qi, become fatigued and inevitably ill, and then wonder why their Wild Goose did not keep them healthy. If we can just follow Dao, then along with our Wild Goose Qigong we can be assured of longevity in good health, and a sweeter life, free of unnecessary effort and struggle.
I teach group classes, seminars and privately in East Bay, California, after teaching in NYC and NJ for 18 years. I still return to East Coast twice a year to help my students there. My website is www.sifuwallace.com
Below is a brief clip of my Wild Goose Qigong.
If you study Wild Goose Qigong I hope this article stimulated you to go deeper in your studies, and if you are new to Qigong I hope it has whetted your appetite to find proper skill and a good teacher.
Adam Wallace Kunlun Dayan Qigong
RECOMMENDED READING - Qigong Books by Master Michael Tse
There are three books on the subject of Wild Goose Qigong (one on First 64 and two parts for Second 64) written by Master Michael Tse that are available only from the Tse Qigong Centre site- www.tseqigongcentre.com. However, there are a two other Qigong books written by him that I wholly recommend as these cover the history, background, principles, and theory as well as simple practical exercises that you can use for health and self-healing. See below
WriterBuzz on November 03, 2010:
a thumbs-up and made you one of my favs. Thanks for sharing this information. If you have time, surf on by and check just did one on Migraine Headaches. Leave me a comment on what you think .Wow, your lens is cool. Just thought I'd leave a comment to let you know. I also gave you
anonymous on September 20, 2010:
anonymous on September 03, 2009:
Found it with the right spelling. I learned a lot. Loved reading about the geese and the history. Hope I can improve. Thank you.
anonymous on August 30, 2009:
it's the best summary, explanation, in depth report on this very special skill I have ever read. I've fwd'd it on to several friends who are interested in Qigong, and living a long, healthy life.