7 Reasons Why the Qigong Revolution Will Fail

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Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Can you feel it? A revolution is coming.

The ancient healing art of qigong is ready to explode in popularity, not just in the US, but all over the world.

When it does, it will revolutionize wellness and health care as we know it.

You’ll see the word qigong on the cover of Time Magazine, you’ll hear Oprah talking about it, hospitals will be hiring qigong instructors, and qigong classes will suddenly appear in local gyms, dance studios, and martial arts schools.

When I first started practicing qigong in 1996, things were different. Qigong wasn’t a movement. It was just an esoteric hobby practiced by martial artists and acupuncturists.

Now, qigong is a cause. It’s a revolution in the making. And it has momentum.

As I’ve said before, I think that qigong will eventually be bigger than yoga.

There’s just one problem.

We’re not ready. And because we’re not ready, the revolution might fail.

By “we”, I mean qigong teachers and students.

I mean myself. And I mean you — the type of person who enjoys reading blogs about qigong and tai chi.

Here’s how the revolution could fail:

1. We Don’t Have Enough Teachers

Judy, a registered nurse, teaching a group of teacher-trainees who are now certified.

Judy, a registered nurse and certified qigong instructor, teaching a group of teacher-trainees (who are now certified).

Let’s do some quick math.

Let’s say that, as revolutionaries, we would like 5% of the US to fall in love with qigong.

Just 5%. That’s not a lot. It’s totally doable.

The population of the US is about 320 million, so 5% of that is 16 million people.

What would it take to bring qigong to 16 million Americans?

Let’s assume that each teacher can manage an average of 100 students. Many teachers are happy just teaching 15 people, and others like me can teach thousands — but let’s use 100 as our average.

In that case, we need at least 160,000 qigong teachers to take care of 16 million students.

We are nowhere near that number now, not even if we include all of the poorly trained and unqualified qigong instructors out there.

Which brings us to our next problem…

2. Our Standards Are Too Low

I’ve noticed a trend in the qigong world. Maybe you’ve noticed it too.

Qigong masters are handing out teaching certificates like there’s no tomorrow.

People with less than 1 year of qigong experience are being given teaching certificates after a weekend workshop.

No bueno.

The problem is that the standards are too low — way too low. Poorly trained qigong teachers hurt people with incorrect instruction, and give the art a bad reputation.

If this revolution is to succeed, we not only need an army of teachers — we need teachers who are well trained.

It’s not easy, but it can be done. I speak from experience. I certified 25 qigong instructors without lowering my standards.

If you’re an experienced teacher, then you can do the same.

3. We Aren’t Planning Ahead

Flowing Zen Certified Instructors, Class of 2016

Flowing Zen Certified Instructors, Class of 2016

It takes at least 3 years to train a good teacher from scratch.

Once we reach the tipping point in this revolution — once Oprah starts talking about qigong — it will be too late to start training teachers.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”Chinese Proverb

You have to plan ahead. Or if you didn’t plan ahead, then you have to start now.

When I launched my teacher training program in 2015, people said I was crazy. They said that I would put myself out of business.

It’s true. I closed my brick-and-mortar studio not long after graduating my first class of instructors.

But here’s the thing. As painful as it was, I closed my studio because I was thinking ahead, because I knew that the revolution was coming.

I’m an experienced teacher. I’ve taught well over 5000 live classes to thousands of students over a period of 12 years.

Looking ahead, it was clear that this experience needeed to be passed on to the next generation of teachers.

If you are a qigong teacher, if you’ve got lots of experience — then plan ahead, and start training teachers now. Train them well, and prepare them for the coming revolution.

Or if you’re a qigong student, then prepare yourself for the revolution by getting certified. Train hard, and become a good representative of this noble art.

4. We Are Divided

How many qigong teachers does it take to change a light bulb?

Ten. One to change the bulb, and nine to stand around saying, “Well, we do things a bit differently!”

There are countless styles of qigong. That’s a good thing. It means that people are innovating and modernizing the art.

The problem is that we let these differences divide us.

We mistakenly think that there is only ONE way to do qigong (or tai chi).

Of course, that ONE way is always our way. In other words, many of us have a “my way or the highway” philosophy.

That’s called dogma, and it’s what happens when passion turns into fundamentalism.

It’s a dangerous path. I know because I started down that path years ago. Luckily, I caught myself and got on a much healthier path.

You can do the same.

5. The Empire Will Crush Us


The status quo is Western Medicine.

They are the Galactic Empire. They have Star Destroyers and Storm Troopers and a frigging Death Star the size of the moon.

In other words, the status quo is powerful.

Meanwhile, we are just pesky Rebels who want to start a health and wellness revolution.

We are challenging the status quo. And whenever you challenge the status quo, you should expect to be attacked.

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

If we want our revolution to succeed, if we want to destroy their Death Star, then we must expect a fight.

The status quo will try to squash our little qigong rebellion. They have more money, better lawyers, better access to the media, and more Storm Troopers.

And yet, throughout history, revolutions have succeeded.

Gandhi overthrew the British Empire. Galileo took down heliocentrism. And Luke destroyed the Death Star.

The status quo CAN be challenged.

6. We Aren’t Organized

Years ago, chiropractors challenged the status quo.

They actually sued the American Medical Association for conspiring against the chiropractic profession.

Chiropractors stood up to the Galactic Empire, and they won!

Because of that fight, the chiropractic profession is well organized. They have a strong chiropractic association, they know how to lobby, and they are organized.

The qigong community is nowhere near that yet. Unfortunately, we’re more like our Traditional Chinese Medicine cousins in the acupuncture community.

There is a ridiculous amount of in-fighting in the acupuncture world. They aren’t organized or unified, and they don’t have a strong lobby.

This poses a serious threat to the acupuncture profession because they are challenging the status quo just like chiropractors once did.

If we aren’t careful, the same thing will happen to the qigong community.

We need to get organized, like the chiropractors, if we are going to stand up to the medical status quo.

7. We Are Stuck on Tradition


Tradition is important. For example, if not for ancient traditions of the Shaolin Temple, I wouldn’t have inherited The 18 Luohan Hands qigong set.

The problem is when we get STUCK on tradition. There’s an old story that explains this perfectly:

“Why do you cut the ends off?” he asked.

John was watching his new bride, Mary, cook dinner.

He noticed that, before putting the roast in the pan, Mary cut off an inch from each side.

John wasn’t much of a cook, but this confused him. So he asked her about it.

“That’s just how you make a pot roast,” Mary said.

“Who taught you that?”

“My mother, silly” she said.

John was dying of curiosity, so the next time his mother-in-law visited, he asked her the same question.

“Mary was cooking a roast, and I noticed that she cut off an inch from either end. She said you taught her this.”

“Of course,” Jane said. “That’s how you make a roast!”

“But why cut off 2 inches? Does this do something to the taste of the meat?”

“That’s just how it’s done,” Jane said. “I never asked why.”

Now more curious than ever, John figured that Jane had learned it from her mother. And since Thanksgiving was coming up, and they would have 3 generations at one table, he decided to wait.

“Grandma Elizabeth,” he said. “Your daughter and granddaughter both cook a delicious roast. But they also cut off an inch from each end. They say that’s how you cook a roast. But there must be some reason for wasting 2 inches of perfectly good roast!”

“Oh dear,” she said. “When I was raising my kids, we were very poor, and I only had one small pan. I cut off the ends of the roast so that it would fit it in that pan.”

I see this phenomenon all the time in the qigong world. I’m guessing you have too.

In all honesty, I’ve been guilty of it myself. But no more.

If we are going to start a revolution — and we are — then we need to strike a balance between following tradition and questioning it.

In the story above, John didn’t throw out the tradition of cooking pot roast. He simply questioned one of the so-called “traditional” methods.

We need to be like John.

The Bottom Line

If you’ve read this far, it’s because you care about the coming qigong revolution.

You are part of this revolution whether you are a new student, an experienced practitioner, or a teacher.

You want what I want. You want the qigong revolution to succeed.

In the spirit of coming together, I’d like you to do something right now.

I’d like you to post in the comments and share your thoughts, not only with me, but with the larger qigong community.

Do you agree with me? Did I miss anything in my post? Do you have ideas on how we can help the revolution succeed? 

Mindfully yours,
Sifu Anthony

I’m Anthony Korahais, and I used qigong to heal from clinical depression, low back pain, anxiety, and chronic fatigue. I’ve already taught thousands of people from all over the world to use qigong for their own stubborn health issues. I teach online courses, and also lead in-person retreats and workshops.

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55 Responses to 7 Reasons Why the Qigong Revolution Will Fail

  1. Charles October 25, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

    Yes. So much needs to be done. Also, I don’t want what happened to yoga to also happen to wiping, the way it so very heavily westernized. I think maybe the situation is different now, that more Americans are willing to explore different and deeper spiritual practices.

    I guess I also wonder about the relationship of the movement to institutionalized science in this country, which so very much fears anything non-materialist.

    Which leads me to say that we need to be very Tai Chi about how we “push” the culture we are interacting with. We need to maintain a bridge and really understand why the resistance exists where it does.

    So, how? How do we build a community while raising our standards? How do we heal a hostile audience? In these questions I see the emergence of answers from the softer side: we need to clear our own minds, forgive, and make sure we offer no resentment. We also need to cultivate a strong sense of hope, of being in alignment with the revolutionary fire we so dearly wish to burn, and anticipate our own success.

    Pondering this, I confront the very mysterious nature of embodied sentience, asking: what does it mean to influence other people?

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 25, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

      Good stuff, Charles.

      One way to build a bridge is to teach them. I could do better, but I’ve done a pretty good job with this.

      Look at my certified instructors. Among them are 2 occupational therapists, 5 massage therapists, 1 physical therapist, 1 acupuncturist, 1 MD, and a nurse.

      • Cindy October 30, 2016 at 12:13 pm #

        So, are you saying only those in the medical field with degrees are the only ones qualified to teach and carry on this health tradition?


        • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 30, 2016 at 12:28 pm #

          Cindy, no that’s not at all what I’m saying. Or were you replying to Charles?

          • Cindy November 3, 2016 at 4:12 pm #

            Anthony, I was replying to you when you pointed out who you certified as instructors to Charles.

            You have certified 2 occupational therapists, 5 massage therapists, 1physical therapist, 1 acupuncturist, 1 MD, and a nurse.

            This gave the impression only people with a medical background should become certified to teach qigong to carry on this health tradition.

            • Sifu Anthony Korahais November 3, 2016 at 4:18 pm #

              Hi Cindy. Thanks for clarifying.

              No, I did not mean to imply that only people with a medical background should become certified to teach.

              It just so happens that a lot of my certified instructors already had a background in health care.

              But many of them did not.

              I do think that medical training is helpful. Even a CPR or first aid course will help.

  2. David Burch October 25, 2016 at 5:37 pm #

    Sign me up!

  3. Roger Jahnke , OMD October 25, 2016 at 5:56 pm #

    Anthony, Interesting article. At the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi (IIQTC – http://IIQTC.org) we have trained over 1000 Teachers and Practice Leaders. Your key point is that The Revolution needs more teachers. Absolutely! Every school, hospital, university, YMCA, social service agency, military base, VA Hospital will need teachers in Tai Chi and Qigong.

    Interesting about how much training is needed. Our teachers have between 200 and 250 hours of training with many added hours of practicum — teaching in their community.

    However, I hope it is fair to mention a caveat to long and indepth training, even though it is preferable. Many agencies and organizations are not ready to spend the resources to train people to high levels of expertise The IIQTC in collaboration with the University of Illinois, the National Council on Aging, the Healer WithinIn Foundation, the YMCA, the Archestone Foundation, with a $250,000 grant we convened The National Expert Meeting on Qigong and Tai Chi in 2005. The Consensus Report is here:

    Basically it declares that there needs to be entry level Qigong and Tai Chi suggesting that preliminary training of 25 to 30 hours is sufficient to train, not a teacher, but some one like a facilitator or practice session leader. We have found that when learners gain as much as they can from a person with minimal training, they are prepared to mover on to more advanced learning opportunities.

    Like we graduate from the first grade where there is little intellectual requirement all the way through high school, college and graduate school, in Qigong and Tai Chi it is OK to have a first grade as well as a graduate level.

    Yours is a well organize and informative blog. I look forward to connecting –
    Dr Jahnke — Roger

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 25, 2016 at 6:19 pm #

      Dr. Jahnke, first let me say that it’s an absolute pleasure to have you personally commenting here. Your book “The Healing Promise of Qi” had a profound influence on me. Thank you for that.

      And thank you for all that you do for the qigong world.

      Your point about entry-level teachers is well taken, and it’s something I’ve been contemplating for several months.

      The “facilitator” or “practice leader” approach is a great one, and I think it will solve a lot of problems.

      I’m glad that you’re already pioneering that approach. I will likely follow in your footsteps in the near future.

      It will be an honor connecting in whatever way is most convenient to you.

      • Cindy October 30, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

        I for one hope you don’t contemplate this to long. As we all knnow, there is no required certification in the United States for tai chi and qigong, since it is not governed by the government. I have taught tai chi for several years after learning from local instructors, sadly to say it was the typical monkey see, monkey do approach. In other words, I learned how to do the form, but did not learn what tai chi was doing for me.

        However, after a short while, I decided to research both tai chi and qigong to obtain information, via the internet, from other instructors and masters from China. I use a method of educating by means of providing the information I have gathered throughout the years, and applying it to my teaching of the form for yang style tai chi short form.

        I have taken the same approach, of educating, with qigong to provide the basics of breathing techniques, meditation, and utilizing the postures of Shibashi, and Five Element qigong. This gives the student an opportunity to be introduced to this modality, which falls under complementary medicine, and experience what is involved.

        I view this as a way of finding those who are serious about their health and not just lookng for another fad or something that is trending. I enjoy helping people and making my classes enjoyable, while they comprehend the seriousness of qigong.

        My next step is to contact the only instructor of qigong in my area who has a doctorate in Medical Qigong. I would like to refer my students to him to continue with a more in depth practice of qigong to reach their goal for self-healing.

        Dr.Jahnke is also included in my list of those I learn from through their articles and videos. I know Dr. Jahnke, as well as many others are providing certification. I personally have not pursued certification, again because it is not a requirement in the United States to teach tai chi and qigong, also the main reason, because I do not have the luxury of being able to travel and leave home for weeks, days, months, or years at a time.

        What would really be appreciated is being able to receive certification by way of the internet without ever having to travel. In this modern day of technology, and with skype, as well as video recording, those interested in certification might be willing to come forward. I know I would. Making it affordable would also be a factor.

        I enjoy your informative blogs and learning from you. Thank you for continuing to share your knowledge.


      • Cindy November 3, 2016 at 4:19 pm #

        Wondered if you had a chance to read my comment below, Oct 20, 2016, at 1:16 pm, regarding certification. My first sentence and my last paragraph before my closing.

        Would be interested in an answer to what you may be thinking.

        • Sifu Anthony Korahais November 3, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

          Hi Cindy. Sorry I missed this.

          I have no plans to offer teacher training 100% online. At that level of training, I think it’s essential to interact, not just with the teacher, but with the other trainees.

          I might offer some makeup sessions online for those attending offline teacher training.

          If I offer a practice leader certification (as discussed with Dr. Jahnke), some of that could be done online.

          But personally, I want to meet and interact with people who I’m certifying. So I would require at least one face-to-face meeting, even for that.

          As for certification — no, it’s not required yet. But it will be, not by the government, but by all the places where you might end up teaching.

          Have you thought about getting a certification from the National Qigong Association? If you can prove that you have at least 200 hours of training, then they I believe they will certify you.

          • Cindy November 3, 2016 at 5:43 pm #

            Well Anthony, I have considered their certification. Trying to locate the instructors I have trained with may be a challenge, especially since one is deceased.

            However, I would be interested in obtaining a “practice leader certification” from you as soon as you decide to offer one. I believe you stated you are located in Florida. You also stated you would like at least one face-to-face meeting, well we could do that with Skype!! Just a modern day thought. : )

            Don’t take to long deciding!!!

  4. Derrick October 25, 2016 at 10:41 pm #

    Sifu, Great article! My comments will be the first grade questions asked in the company of graduate students……Do you have any suggestions for online students to achieve certifications, as this is “Traditionally” performed face to face? Collaborate with other Qigong styles within traveling distance to accumulate the hours needed? How do you view this process in the future? I assume some face to face aspect will still be required.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 26, 2016 at 7:47 am #

      Hi Derrick.

      I’ve had a lot of students ask me to offer teacher certification online. I have experience both with online teaching and teacher training — and I just can’t see how it would work. We would need new technology, perhaps VR headsets, where we could all see each other.

      But the practice leader approach that Dr. Jahnke spoke of is possible. I think we could do at least half of that online. But I think I would still like to meet people in person for at least one workshop.

  5. Angelika October 26, 2016 at 4:24 am #

    I’m all in, I definitely want Qi Gong and Tai Chi to become more popular!

    I think the “not so many teachers”-problem will be not as big. First of all, I know a lot of teachers who have many empty spots in their classes. I guess if you would actually get all teachers to have minimum 100 students, that could cover a lot of demand.

    The other thing is that there are so many people who are actually quite advanced at Qi Gong but who choose not to teach yet – because they are afraid they would not have enough students. I think a lot of those would start when demand rises.

    I agree that lobbying for Qi Gong and Taijiquan is a mess. I don’t know much about the US, but in Germany there is not much unity.

    Bruce Frantzis wrote some years ago about when the Tipping Point for Tai Chi will be reached. He said the only thing missing is a celebrity supporting this art. I created a list of all the celebrities who are connected to Tai Chi – though none of them seems to be very active!


    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 26, 2016 at 7:38 am #

      Oh I know you’re all in, Angelika!

      You make a good point about people who don’t teach because they wouldn’t have enough students. Some of that is just business knowledge, which most of us are lacking. I learned about business the hard way by running one for 8 years!

      I also like what you say about a celebrity creating a tipping point. That’s a good article you’ve written. I’m not entirely convinced that a celeb practicing taijiquan is the same thing. I really do feel that the arts are different.

      But you can add Mario Vargas Llosa to your list. He’s a famous writer, and he practices qigong. If you can read Spanish, you can read his article here: http://elpais.com/elpais/2014/08/21/opinion/1408620587_179035.html

  6. Ryan Powell October 26, 2016 at 5:09 am #

    Thanks Anthony, I feel there are some good points raised in your article. There is a fine line to walk in honoring the traditions of the zhenren who developed the authentic spiritual cultivation practices and passed them through direct transmission from body to body, teacher to student, and allowing the arts to evolve so they are accessible and potent for the modern practitioner.

    I have heard “don’t get stuck in tradition” as an excuse used by weekend workshop ‘teachers’ to create their own practices and ‘get past the forms’ as a way to bypass the Gong, the hard work we put in to learn the lineage practices. There are no short cuts and the slow way truly is the fast way. I do feel it is good to evolve the way the practices are taught, without changing the core gem passed through the lineage which is the practice itself.

    As far as anyone saying their system is the “best” is asserting that they know everything about every other system and is an automatic red flag for me.

    When I tune into the deeper undercurrent of our modern human condition I feel a hidden current of transformation and awakening beginning to powerfully rise within the collective. It is my feeling that those who teach authentic practices which truly ground and support this natural process will be sustained and sought out for the medicine they carry. People can feel the real thing … So I’m not too worried about the failure of the movement. I trust the natural way and see the general growth of interest in Qigong and Internal Alchemy as a good sign that this medicine will not fade.

    Cheers, Ryan Powell

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 26, 2016 at 7:41 am #

      Hi Ryan. Thanks for adding your thoughts.

      I like what you say about people being able to feel the real thing. That’s been my experience too, both as a student and a teacher.

      • bastiaan opdenkelder October 26, 2016 at 9:16 am #

        Ryan you are absolutely right. I have learned from a young age traditional martial arts and in the last 20 years traditional medical qigong forms. Changing these to gain more students or changing the form to become easier to learn – getting off the learned path of the traditional ways to make short cuts is wrong. I continue to teach the traditional forms and my students have increased gradually, especially with the older generation. Through them I am reaching out to their children and get them engaged to follow some beginner lessons. Teaching has not been financially rewarding but I refuse to make these traditional forms more popular or easier to learn than the way it was practiced and learned for centuries. Thanks Anthony for starting this steam of opinions…

  7. Ray Morneau October 26, 2016 at 7:06 am #

    Thank you, Sifu Anthony, Dr. Jahnke, Charles, et alii — Exciting!!! I am thrilled to have this front row seat for this momentous occasion.
    I wholeheartedly encourage you!
    On a much smaller scale, I think “Arboriculture” is going through something like this – except we have neither the 3,000 year history nor the unity of energy that Qigong has. Although, come to think of it, trees have been around for a few thousand years … and we are just beginning to comprehend the energies involved.
    You guys are poised to do our universe a world of good! Thank you.
    And I suspect this revolution must tap into not only the numbers (more “teachers”) but more importantly that I can explain … the Qi.
    Thank you for hitching your wagons to that star!!!

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 26, 2016 at 7:44 am #

      Thanks, Ray! That’s an interesting comparison to “arboriculture”. What exactly is it? I know a little about permaculture, but I’ve never heard of arboriculture.

      As for the qi — a qigong teacher who doesn’t tap into it is missing out. But they can be taught to tap into it.

      • Ray Morneau October 27, 2016 at 8:34 am #

        Anthony –
        Arboriculture “practice and study of the care of trees and other woody plants in the landscape….” per the International Society of Arboriculture website.
        Wide-ranging from the rough-and-tumble grab a saw and make that tree smaller…
        To the more-studied who actually do research to understand some of what’s behind how trees benefit people (beauty, shade, wind attenuation, increased property values, carbon sequestration, …) – their complex interactions with us and reactions to what we do to them – like few folks think about how pruning usually wounds trees … and they react variously with growth or decline or decay or breakage or …
        So, I came along 50 years ago when some of my fellow arborists were ready to acknowledge that we were largely a rag-tag bunch of ruffians who didn’t really know/understand trees and our group had a lot of accidents/fatalities … so some of our luminaries started working on industry standards …. safety, pruning, equipment, growing, etc. — and banding together in professional (membership) organizations … Of course there was some in-fighting with some organizational disagreements, but behind it all was a common interest in promoting safer, more conscientious, better informed “tree work”.
        Our best thing (in my mind anyway) was the way individuals shared information and techniques to the betterment of each other with conferences, conventions, workshops, seminars, symposiums, colloquiums, AND organized competitions: jamborees…
        And, we continue growing yet today, of course – – the new blood coming up in this industry seem to be even more enlightened than our “grandfathers” – thank goodness for evolution!
        So also for Qigong – but even greater potential. So I applaud your efforts, Sifu Anthony – along with Dr. Jahnke … plus Bruce Frantzis and many other visionaries who appear to be sharing Qigong, TaiChi, etc. – not to make a few million dollars but for the large-scale betterment of everyone.
        Thank You!!!
        … oh, and as for the qi — I fear there are few of us who know of and acknowledge its existence — and even fewer of you who really understand it.
        I wish the best to All involved in this revolution.

  8. The Mindful Monkey October 26, 2016 at 9:40 am #

    Dear Sifu Anthony,

    I agree with your vision and I’d like to facilitate this kind of mankind evolution.

    I’m an assiduous student and practitioner of QiGong and I’d like to know what is your indication about a preferred path to become a high standard teacher.

    It should be very interesting to have a step-by-step guide from practitioner to advanced teacher with various levels to reach with the related tools to achieve those (courses, type of practice, books, etc.).

    Many thanks for your very helpful articles, I hope the “force” can guide men like us to revolutionize this world.



    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 26, 2016 at 9:57 am #

      Hi there. Didn’t catch your name, Mr. Mindful Monkey. Thanks for the kind words.

      I’m working on a step-by-step online course for beginners. I want to use all the various technologies — on-demand videos, live calls, chats, and audios — to give people a chance to get quality qigong instruction no matter where they live.

      It will also act as a sort of a living, dynamic qigong text book for my certified instructors.

      This won’t take someone from beginner to teacher, but it will set a very strong foundation for the student. I’m confident that other teachers who might “inherit” graduates of my online program would find those students to be well versed in the fundamentals, and very teachable.

      As I mentioned to Dr. Jahnke, I am contemplating a “practice leader” certification. I think that it solves a lot of problems, especially if the leaders can defer to a more experienced teacher.

  9. Lars Christian Schmith October 26, 2016 at 10:00 am #

    Thank you Anthony for sharing this needed blog. You got a point. Absolutely!

    Hopefully QiGong does not rush down that same path as Yoga – sorry to say but its too much industry and research is often very poor compared to the depth of this great ancient art. The idea of QiGong becomming bigger than yoga I dont like.

    Yes definitely there is not much organization in the society around Tai Chi and QiGong and especially in the different Tai Chi groups in Europe much in-fighting and jugdmental behavior – one of the reasons why I left the “buss” several years ago.

    What to do?
    Another question – how can we enhance the level of QiGong?

    I have been a teacher in this art for years – I totally love it. For the first time I start graduating instructors and have been dealing with some crucial questions in finding the best concept. What is right what is wrong? Who can judge?
    I personally would prefer longer stages and are fully aware that digging into the mysteries and secrets of NeiGong takes a lifetime and more….
    We live in a very speeded up evolutionary pressured time. Everything is going very fast.

    People can chosse to take one QiGong instructor course in 3 years or one in 6 months mostly as a online course or choose a different path – a yoga instructor course in 2 years. All in all pretty fast if you ask me.
    I have been studying this art since early 80´ties. Its a never ending journey to attain immortality, that is why it is called so and can only be comprehended whenever we are able to go beyond the limitations of form.

    Most people today don´t know much about Qi and the depth of QiGong, that is why it would be easy to misled them. For my instructors course I choose the middlepath. My course is a 1,5 year course. It can be done in that short time only by students, who have studied with me or another good (at least) quality teacher for several years. As a back-up procedure for students I cant graduate after 1,5 year or those who just want more, I offer “brush-up courses” in order to adjust and refine. Those courses are one weekend at a time and you can take as many as you need.

    Certain skills must be attained, including the ability to value others that share the same wonderful field and avoid judgemental behavior etc. Talking here about some minimum code of conduct and healthy ethic, we all need to be clear about and impliment in our life.

    Enjoy your day 😉

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 26, 2016 at 10:16 am #

      Hi Lars. Thanks for contributing.

      I understand your concerns about comparing to yoga. But we may have to agree to disagree.

      Qigong saved my life, so it’s natural for me to want it to be accessible to everyone, especially people battling depression.

      And when you spend time in the medical world (which I’ve done for 8 years), you see just how much people NEED qigong.

      So I stand by my comparison. I not only think qigong will be bigger than yoga, I hope that it happens as soon as possible.

      Regarding your teacher training, you say 1.5 years, but how many hours of instruction? The number of hours is usually how we compare.

      Regarding the issue of educating people about qigong — well I’ve been working on that for years. This blog contains 3 books worth of free information on the art of qigong!

  10. Lars Christian Schmith October 26, 2016 at 10:26 am #

    What i ment about yoga is that qigong deserves better than beings controlled by economic interest.

    My course is 120 hours in total.

    • Lars Christian Schmith October 26, 2016 at 10:31 am #

      Actually 128 h’s including internship.

  11. Lars Christian Schmith October 26, 2016 at 10:28 am #

    Thank you for sharing your insights i really apreaciate it

  12. Riccardo October 26, 2016 at 11:04 am #

    dear Sifu, just to let you know how is the question about qi gong in Italy. Here too there’s a lot of qi gong teachers after 3 or 4 years of training and that’s no good. I spent almost 7 years of my life studying qi gong taijiquan and other kung fu styles and (fortunately) I’m still a student (advanced but a student). Qi gong it’s a so delicate and deep topic to let its teaching to people not deeply qualified… And It could be very dangerous. What do you thing about it?

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 26, 2016 at 11:21 am #

      Hi Riccardo. Thanks for adding your thoughts.

      I think that 3-4 years of training can be enough for a low-level instructor. If they’ve put in 200 hours or more of practice, and if they’ve got 100 hours or more of teacher training, then that’s a good standard.

      Of course, higher level instructors will have more training, more practice time, and more experience teaching.

      I agree that unqualified teachers can cause harm. I’ve seen it many times. Students often come to me and my wife (an acupuncture physician) to fix the problems that were caused by unqualified instructors.

  13. Dudley Jackson October 26, 2016 at 1:57 pm #

    Thanks for the interesting article Sifu. It’s also cool to hear from Dr Jahnke. I agree with most of your points in terms of the current state of qigong. I think the primary things we really need concern ourselves with are maintaining high standards of our practice and producing quality teachers, regardless of quantity. Prioritization of getting organized is really overrated in terms of nurturing quality and is always poisoned by an element that is only interested in commercialism and pure political maneuvering. Being stuck on tradition is bad if it means that the presentation of the practices aren’t compatible with modern scientific, cultural, and ethical standards but at the same time a sense of path must exist. Because qigong contains a spiritual component, we can take some lessons from the mishaps of world religions to highlight things we should avoid.

    I actually think that western medicine will eventually be the validator and “popularizer” of mind-body arts like qigong. For many decades, we have heard from western medicine that exercise is good for your health. The historical reticence of western medicine to accept the mind part of the mind-body approach to healing is just because the scientific community can’t conceptualize consciousness (because it’s impossible). Despite that, medical research about mindfulness, qigong and other mind-body practices has exploded in the last ten years or so. Acupuncture staff can even be found in many hospitals in the United States now. But by far, the most important developments are from the mind-blowing, paradigm shifting research in areas that western medicine doesn’t yet quite recognize as part of the mind-body approach to healing. I’m referring to research on bio-electricity, bio-electronics, neurobiology, information systems biology and epigenetics. As improved health outcomes, which reference metrics and mechanisms from these new research fields, continue to be linked to the practice of mind-body interactions (e.g. sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems), a critical mass of actionable evidence will eventually pile up. At that point health professionals will start to widely endorse mind-body arts in the same way they endorse traditional exercise now, even though they don’t understand the consciousness part of it and even though the realm of qigong is much bigger than just health.

    Finally, you mentioned planning ahead and I think that this comes into the equation when one considers the influence of technology into the health care domain. I bet that the eventual popular utilization of mind-body arts in the future will look a lot more like bio-feedback, qigong’s western cousin. Non-invasive tools like wearables which measure heart-rate variability and blood pressure and test kits for things like blood sugar are already widely available for use at home. This is the very tip of the arriving iceberg. Technology such as body scanners and implanted wifi-enabled electronic chips will eventually become less expensive and available to everyone. If qigong traditions wish for a prominent position on the ‘popular’ consumer consideration set, it seems to be a good idea to experiment with appropriately integrating such technology into its view. It can go too far and it seems that one valuable thing that qigong can help us to answer is the question of what is a sane and healthy way to live with technology? How much is insane? Is a smart phone an actual extension of your body? Does everyone’s body really need a networked chip so that we become a part of the “internet of things”?


    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 27, 2016 at 10:08 am #

      Good stuff, Dudley.

      I agree that Western Medicine will soon help to popularize qigong. But I think we’ll see it first in places like the UK.

      I like your point about high standards of PRACTICE. That can sometimes get overlooked.

      I believe that qigong is 80% practice and 20% learning. You should spend at least 100 hours practicing the art before training to become a teacher. 200 hours would be even better.

      But I don’t agree when you say “regardless of quantity”. The quantity must be considered, or else we run the risk of setting the standard TOO high.

      I didn’t start teaching until 6-7 years into my qigong practice. And I was already a certified black belt in Karate with years of teaching experience. By the time I started teaching qigong, I also had a year of acupuncture college under my belt.

      A lot of teachers want to hold their students to the same standard that they themselves went through, especially if they went through old-school training like I did.

      But if I tried to hold my certified instructors to that standard, how many would I have?

      And is that standard even necessary for a level 1 instructor? Is there a more efficient way to move forward?

      Sometimes the reality of the situation forces us to create new standards, as Dr. Jahnke mentioned with the need for practice leaders.

      That’s why I think it’s important to consider the quantity in addition to the quality.

  14. Charles October 26, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

    Another thought: does Qi Gong need to find a good business model? I ask this as someone who has considered teaching as a possible career path.

    Also, looking over the fence at yoga, part of the reason for that movement’s success is that someone can invest 200 hrs in training and have an immediately marketable skill. This isn’t just because of the existing popularity of yoga, but because a newly christened yoga teacher doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel if they want to open a studio (or run a YouTube channel). Folks still have to run their business, but the business model for yoga studios works. I think part of that success relies on being able to hire other teachers (to cover more time slots) or to form cooperatives between teachers, but there again we introduce the questions of standards, numbers of teachers, tradition and so on. Also, being a yoga student looks very similar across studios because of the consistency of business model.

    To the point: where do you see Qi Gong thriving economically? How can we feed, in the expansive sense, all the teachers?

    Also, do you think it’s possible for us, especially your students, to form effective cooperatives with other practitioners despite having different experiences?

    • Angelika October 27, 2016 at 3:43 am #

      I think we can learn a lot from the yoga world. Especially when it comes to studios. As far as I know most studios offer all kinds of styles (Hatha & Kundalini & Yin Yoga etc.).

      Most Tai Chi & Qi Gong schools offer not that much of a variety. At least there are very few schools that offer BOTH Chen & Yang style. With Qi Gong it is a bit different because I think most teachers do more than one set.

      But I think if more school owners would open up and let more other teachers (and not only their own students!) teach at their studios, they could benefit because they could attract more diverse students. And of course that would mean more money, too.

      • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 27, 2016 at 10:23 am #

        Good points, Angelika. I also think we not only can, but must learn from the yoga world.

        But as I said, I don’t think that the studio model is necessarily the way to go. A lot of yoga studios are struggling right now. The model is not even working for them.

        What is working here in the US is the health club model, where you have everything and anything under one multi-million dollar roof.

        The problem is that health clubs and gyms don’t pay teachers well, and thus typically attract only low-level or new teachers.

      • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 27, 2016 at 10:26 am #

        Continuing on your point, Angelika, I actually envision something similar to what you’re describing — but online.

        I have built an extensive framework and infrastructure for online teaching. I’ve basically done the equivalent of building a brick-and-mortar studio — but online.

        I see no reason why other teachers couldn’t one day teach via my online platform. Flowing Zen could become a bit like Udemy, but specifically for qigong.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 27, 2016 at 10:14 am #

      Charles, it’s a great question.

      Personally, I know from experience that qigong needs a new business model!

      For example, two Barre studios just recently opened up in Gainesville right near our old Flowing Zen Studio.

      Not one. Two. And they seem to be packed.

      I made it work for 8 years, but the studio business model doesn’t work with qigong. I had to work WAY too hard just to keep the lights on.

      Obviously, I think that the internet is the future, not just for qigong, but for all kinds of learning. I don’t think online learning should or will replace in-personal learning, but I do think it’s important.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 27, 2016 at 10:17 am #

      To your other point about forming effective cooperatives with other practitioners, I think it’s absolutely possible! Look at what’s happening with this post!

  15. Ani Anderson October 26, 2016 at 7:39 pm #

    A great article Anthony. As a business coach who helps people grow their wholistic businesses I see a great number of genuine practitioners who do not have the confidence or belief in themselves to step into the ring of “people of influence” in the qigong movement. I believe that is one more reason that the qigong movement would fail – a lack of willingness to break through personal barriers that stop ourselves from becoming the greatest version of ourselves- out in front of everyone- not just in the cave, meditation room, studio or dojo – but in out in the world where we can be SEEN.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 27, 2016 at 10:21 am #

      Thanks, Ani. I think you hit the nail on the head about some of issues facing qigong teachers.

      Because I ran a brick-and-mortar studio for 8 years, I had no choice but to face a lot of my own blockages. For example, I was blocked about the issue of “marketing”. But it’s amazing how quickly you can clear a blockage when you sign an iron-clad 3-year commercial lease!

      Once I cleared my blockage, I saw that marketing was simply the art of explaining to people what qigong is, and how it can help them. Marketing is just a form of education, and I’m an educator.

      And yet, I see qigong students and teachers resist — as if on principle — the entire idea of marketing. That’s a blockage, and it needs to be addressed.

  16. Vera October 27, 2016 at 12:09 pm #

    Sifu Anthony , I am with you all the way. I experience these problems everyday. People must be exposed to the idea of Qi gong as much as possible and despite the skepticism of the public to continue learning and improving ourselves. We must be living examples of the power of Qi gong. I even offer free class for people to try out, except that this one free trial does not do much to bring Qi to their awareness…and depends on level of stress etc..I talk much about the fact that there is another way to healing apart from medicating and coping with chronic pain/stress. I teach at Community Ctrs …..if the class is free a lot of people sign up .But at a centre where yoga is the norm, I hold a class for 2-3 people only for already two years..people may have to give up something to get a new idea like Qi gong. And if Taichi teachers are not supporting and encouraging people to participate in Qi gong classes then there is an inside struggle as you say, we are divided. Also many people are afraid of qigong, but practice Taichi …it seems there is some kind of “spell “on Qi gong , which we the living examples of its benefits must brake and it will take time….

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 27, 2016 at 4:00 pm #

      It’s not easy to turn people on to qigong. I spent 10 years perfecting the art of teaching newbies. Now, if I have 2 hours face-to-face, I can get almost anyone interested.

  17. James October 27, 2016 at 3:38 pm #

    Hi Sifu,
    Great article. My story is that I started practicing tai chi out of curiosity and we did a lot of warm up exercises which I later learned were qigong. The relaxation I achieved through the technique was amazing and it took me a while and a fair amount of study to make the connection with what stuff was qigong and what was tai chi.
    The club I went to at the time was quite fixated on the martial arts tradition and also many of the participants wanted to learn the tai chi form. I never got much out of learning forms and I wanted more of the qigong. When I asked for a bit more qigong in the class the teacher interpreted that as quiet sitting meditation and I never felt that this was what I understood qigong to be. While I know meditation is a part of qigong I am a committed Nichiren Buddhist and doing quiet meditation as well as my Nichiren Buddhism practice takes up too much time. So after a fair about of web surfing I started learning more qigong forms online and practicing them in the morning. Then I would do my Buddhist practice and then I would go to my tai chi club once a week to connect with others. Eventually as to be expected, I stopped going to the club and I practiced at home, then alas the home practice dwindled and I basically stopped after a year. It was all too much. However, I regularly dream of taking up qigong again and remember having this massive desire to become a teacher because I genuinely felt the positive power of qigong and that it needed to be available to others. I only mention all of this because I completely agree with your article. It’s so hard to find a teacher whom to develop a strong qigong practice to pass to others.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 27, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

      Thanks for sharing, James. Your experience is more common than you might think. A lot of students come to me with a) a solid sitting meditation practice, and b) a distaste for tai chi. Once I teach them qigong, they fall in love.

      Getting off track is the norm. That’s why I’m always telling my students: Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight.

      You can get back on track. In about a month, I’ll have a new online program that might be perfect for you. To me, teaching qigong is more than just showing forms. It’s about guiding and coaching students through all of the pitfalls.

      In the meantime, have you tried my free course? You can grab it here: https://flowingzen.mykajabi.com/store/CNe4WWGo

  18. mrdrusacco October 28, 2016 at 11:49 am #

    Hello Sifu Anthony,

    My name is Michael, we met once at your post-Sandy workshop in that synagogue. I wanted to mention that there are qigong therapists as well as teachers. I am not sure how exactly that affects the numbers but it is worth considering.

    Best wishes.

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais October 28, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

      Hi Michael. Good to hear form you. And you’re absolutely right that there are qi therapists, also called qigong therapists, and medical qigong therapists. There are even programs to certify people now.

      I’ve got training in this field, but I stopped practicing in a clinical setting years ago because, quite frankly, I felt that there was a greater need for qigong teachers. I still use qi therapy, but mainly for emergencies.

      I do, however, incorporate some of the principles and techniques in my teacher training because I think that qi healing and qigong teaching overlap.

      For example, I think that all qigong teachers should know how to open “bai hui”, one of the major energy points.

      And vice versa, I think all qi therapists should know how to teach Lifting The Sky (or something similar).

  19. peter November 27, 2016 at 11:04 pm #

    A few questions:
    1) What is ‘sifu’ and how is it determined?
    2) Do all forms of qigong entail metaphysical concepts such as immortality? Are there any secular forms of qigong?
    3) Do all forms of qigong advocate a carnivorous diet? If so, how does the universal ethic of respect for all life square with this?
    4) Why do you think your particular brand should predominate? After all, aren’t all disciplines involving the integration of the mind-body-heart (yoga, tai chi, zen, qigong, vipassana etc) equally beneficial to anyone who properly aligns his/her life to whatever tradition is most suitable?



    • Sifu Anthony Korahais November 28, 2016 at 7:55 am #

      Hi Peter.

      Some quick answers.

      1. “Sifu” means “teacher” in Cantonese. It’s a traditional title for someone with a lot of experience practicing and teaching qigong and tai chi.

      2. Yes, there are more secular forms of qigong, like mine. I don’t talk about immortality. I talk about good health and vitality.

      3. No, not all forms of qigong advocate eating meat. Some do, some don’t, and some are in between, like me. I am an omnivore, but lots of my students are vegetarian or vegan. As for respect for all life, that’s a big topic. Suffice it to say that I am more Taoist in my approach, and I believe in the circle of life. Of course, I also believe in sustainable and humanely treated animals, which is why my wife and I buy all of our meat from local farms.

      4. No, not all methods are equally beneficial. That’s just the way of the world. I’ve got students who have tried other forms of meditation, yoga, and even qigong, but for some reason, they got better results with my method. I’m sure it works in the other direction as well. In the end, it’s a matter of finding the right combination of a) teacher, b) method, and c) student.

      I hope that helps,

  20. Nathalie Depastas December 15, 2016 at 7:28 pm #

    Hi everyone,
    Is has been a lot to read since the first post and primary question of Shifu Antony.
    I, for my part, just finishing this long read, stand in between QiGong revolution, evolution, And cultivation…..it all swirls..
    First touch and taste QiGong, then absorb and assimilate it, then bring it forth….
    Isnt that the kernel, the seed from which evolution, through cultivation will take place ?

    Planting a seed while envisioning a forest…of QiGong teachers, or…as mentioned along the blog, even newbies practitioners made instructors or leaders…

    Ha! It surely makes me frown….the idea is wonderful..the concept great…and the reality that I am often confronted with around students who have been taught, some of them for years by apprentice QiGong practitioners, is déconcertant.
    These students happily dance around smiling and proud to do QiGong or TaiChi, yet having not a single clue nor evidence of having learned a single basic principle of balance, structure, relaxation, whole body movement rather than limbs moving wind……
    Well….I am a foreigner on this land where making money is a primary chore..teaching online is inviting good money and less stress for the perpetrator, it is easy money really and I say that because it makes QiGong, true LIFE ENERGY CULTIVATION another toboggan into virtuality…teacher teach alone in his/her kitchen or office and student alone also in front of their screen….there is no real TOUCH, no acknowledgement of..the lifting energy of “A” group, the change of energy in a room where some are struggling and through their struggle teaching their peers what not to do, and those who seem so at ease doing it, and teaching their peers by example, all this eventually unconsciously, yet eminamently changing the room energy……. I know,

    It is tomorrow’s reality..real virtuality…..another fiction, that leaves me in apnea….
    how about sacrifice, saving money to go to that teacher, losing something …a job, a day…to get something that you want more then anything…this is a PART OF QiGong cultivation that is missed in an online teaching..
    Actually, to me, online teaching is like fishing….browsing for the easiest , quickest and most affordable and less demanding item…
    As so many of the so many untrained instructors who are feeding on that, This new and “à la mode” stuff CALLED QIGONG and/or TAI CHI. You test online, get a certificate and go teaching…wow”””” that’s online stuff…..
    QIGONG for arthritis gives a certificate after a week end and, it is true, some go teaching with that certificate…and what I see when I get those students is..everything but QiGong or TaiChi
    There is nothing able to withstand time without principles….building blocks….
    Building blocks…building blocks. foundations….anchors and wings…..

    isn’t it in front of others, in relationship to others that we can evaluate our own virtues, qualities and flaws?
    We do not get that true evaluation with online teaching, we get a one on one class and a certificate….

    That being said, all my respect goes to you Shifu Antony, as you are acting out of sincere vision. I am old school, have learned for the last 30 years directly from my teachers, at great costs and with unparalleled transmissions of Qi which I am not sure can happen online…may I be wrong!

    • Sifu Anthony Korahais December 15, 2016 at 8:00 pm #

      Hi Nathalie. Thanks for adding your insights. Here are my thoughts.

      First of all — I am old school too. I traveled to Asia, worked hard, learned face-to-face from my masters, sacrificed, and received countless transmissions. I’ve also practiced well over 10,000 hours.

      Second, I would bet that I have more experience teaching in person than you do. I have taught over 5000 live classes to over 2000 people. How many have you taught?

      Third, I would also bet that I’ve taught more online than you have.

      It seems to me that your conclusions are based on ideas, not reality. Am I wrong? Have you tested your ideas? Are they really true? Or are they simply ideas in your head?

      For example, it’s easy enough to say that people should learn face-to-face, but have you actually spoken with people who cannot afford to do so, people who are too sick to travel, people who have looked but can’t find a good teacher locally?

      I have. I’ve spoken with hundreds of them. And my heart goes out to them.

      I’ve also seen what online learning can do for them, and it is wonderful.

      Nathalie, I recommend that you open your mind and your heart. You can start with this article here:


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