Origins of Qigong (part 1)

KaishuThere is a common convention of Chinese culture in which the word Dao, meaning the way (or road), is applied to any field of study. The dao of archery, the dao of writing, the dao of mothering, even the dao of basketball. This expression refers to a way of knowing and embodying which is unique to each pursuit, and implies both ease and confidence. It is somewhat like saying in English, "She really has a knack for juggling." (Yet it implies that the activity itself transforms the person who does it, it is not just an act of doing. It also implies that there is a curriculum.)
For most of the last 1500 years in China (since the introduction of Kaishu style calligraphy), the first lessons one received when learning to write were instructions on how to sit with out obstructing the circulation of qi and blood, how to hold and move the brush in coordination with ones breath such that the student might start discovering the dao of writing from day one. It was a lesson in how to embody the physicality of great public officials of the past.
Black Smith makes a Wok All traditional Chinese subjects had this "dao of" training; music, martial arts, medicine, weaving, etc….In traditional Chinese culture the physical process of acquiring knowledge is not subordinate to knowledge itself-- How one learns is, in a sense, given priority to what one learns. [Of course, the threat of violence was sometimes part of the teaching process, (I don’t want to create a fantasy playland out of Chinese history), but there was an emphasis on process nonetheless.]
The term qigong, coined in the 1950's, has come to describe the modern idea of abstracting all these varied approaches to the physical basis for learning-- and making them into a distinct subject. For instance the specific daily exercises that a blacksmith family had been passing down from generation to generation (the dao of blacksmithing) now became a type of qigong taught for general health.