Lohan Qigong (pronounced Chi Kung) is an ancient Chinese healing exercise and the more internal aspect of Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu. It was created by Bodhidharma (Da Mo), the founder of Chen (Zen) Buddhism 1500 years ago.
Legend has it that Bodhidharma spent nine years meditating in a cave in the Shaolin Temple. During that time, he discovered that the lack of movement of his body and limbs over a long period of time, plus the bitter cold and wind around his mountain retreat caused fatigue, body aches and pain. His disciples also suffered from the same problems and often dozed off during meditation.
To combat these hazards, Bodhidharma devised a set of exercises based on Indian Yoga, Chinese exercise of the time and his observation of the natural movements of wild animals. This set of exercises is known as the “18 Lohan Qigong”.
This gentle exercise is relaxing and energizing at the same time, with each set of movements designed to activate and cleanse the Dantian and particular acupuncture meridians. It is both a physical and mental exercise. Inwardly, it is taught to cultivate the Jing, the Chi and the Shen (the essence, the breath and the spirit). Outwardly, it is practised to build a strong and healthy body.
It has been established that Qigong stimulates the immune system and is favourable for the healing of inflamed and degenerated tissue. It has a calming effect on the nervous system and is therefore beneficial in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia and depression.
Also, for the student of martial arts, it is a means of furthering one’s study and improving one’s skill. It was regarded as a precious secret and kept within the Shaolin Temple until its sacking and massacre of its inhabitants about 200 years ago.
Monk Choy Fook, one of the few survivors, fled south to Guongdong province and was sought out by Chen Heung, a martial arts practitioner of that time, to further his Kung Fu skills. He became Choy Fook’s disciple and was taught the whole system of Shaolin Kung Fu and Qigong exercises.
All these skills and knowledge were then passed down from the Chen family from generation to generation.
Grand Master Chen Yong Fa is the present custodian of the whole system, is the great, great grandson (5th generation) of Chen Heung. He is the Head of the International Shaolin Lohan Therapeutic Qigong Association, and is also a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, specialising in “Zeng Gu” or Bone Setting.