Qigong, masters

Qigong, masters
A significant characteristic of the post-Mao Qigong boom is the resurgence of Qigong masters. Until the Republican era, Qigong masters had been labelled as a ‘low class’ or ‘superstitious’ profession. But in the 1950s, Qigong masters were invited by the government to work as health professionals. This change was largely due to the work of Liu Guizhen (1920–83), a Communist Party cadre. Liu and his team worked on applying Qigong practice on health improvement in Beidai He Rehabilitation Centre and gained positive results. The government established more Qigong treatment centres where numbers of Qigong masters had worked. During the Cultural Revolution era, Qigong practice was once again labelled as ‘superstitious’, hence Qigong clinics were shut down.
From the 1970s to 1980s, Qigong masters gradually resurfaced as healers. Former cancer patient Guo Lin (1909–84) began teaching ‘Guo Lin’s New Qigong’ (Guo Lin xin qigong) in parks to thousands of people diagnosed with cancer since 1971. After being promoted by the media in 1975, Guo was invited to give lectures in universities and hospitals nationwide. By the mid 1980s, more Qigong masters had become popular through teaching and healing. Among the best known are Yang Meijun (b. 1903), a master of ‘Wild Geese’ (Dayangong); Zhao Jinxiang (b. 1936), creator of the ‘Crane style’ (Hexiangzhuang); Ma Litang (1930–88), creator or the ‘Nurturing Qi’ (Yangqi gong); Pang Ming (b. 1940), creator of ‘Intelligent Qigong’ (Zhineng gong); and Zhang Mingwu (1920–90), creator of ‘Methods of Self-Healing through Qigong’ (Qigong zikong liaofa).
By the end of the 1980s, several million copies of various Qigong manuals were in circulation. Qigong masters provided conferences in working units and treatment in hospitals and began to form organizations.
Between 1985 and 1995, some 2,000 Qigong masters registered organizations at the government agency. Many of them were not only healers but were also perceived as superbeings and spiritual leaders. They had gained popularity by launching qi-emitting conferences and claiming paranormal abilities, such as Yan Xin (b. 1949), who was the first to launch qi-emitting conferences where the audience were induced into trance, and Zhang Xiangyu (b. 1943), founder of the ‘Qigong of the Great Nature’ (Daziran gong), who claimed to have been possessed and to be able to communicate with spirits through ‘messengers’. Many Qigong masters were also successful business people through selling books, audio or video tapes as well as qi-emitting merchandise. For example: Ke Yunlu and Ji Yi were both writers turned Qigong masters who made a living by writing Qigong books; Zhang Hongbao’s (b. 1954) Chinese Qigong organization (Zhonggong) had more than one hundred service centres, selling qi-emitting merchandise and Qigong services. By 1995, Qigong practice had become a very profitable business that had outgrown government control. Since the summer of 2000, however, the government has forbidden Qigong masters to have organizations or private businesses.
See also: Qigong, history
Wu, Hao (ed.) (1993). Zhongguo dangdai qigong quanshu [Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Qigong]. Beijing: Renmin tiyu chubanshe.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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