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
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.
The problem is that the standards are, in my opinion, too low. Poorly trained qigong teachers can hurt people with incorrect instruction. Of course, the damage is minor compared to, say, what the opioid epidemic is doing, but it still has the potential to 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. There are ways to certify teachers without lowering standards. I speak from experience.
If you’re an experienced teacher, then you can do the same thing.
3. We Aren’t Planning Ahead
Once we reach the tipping point in this revolution — once Oprah starts doing 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.
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 all over the world.
Looking ahead, it was clear to me that this experience needed 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 in our school!”
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 geocentrism. 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? Best regards, 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 how to use qigong for their own stubborn health challenges. As the director of Flowing Zen, I'm fully committed to helping people with these arts. In addition to my blog, I also teach online courses and offer in-person retreats and workshops.