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Qi Department: Qigong


By Amelie de Mahy
n a small, dimly lit treatment room
in downtown Taipei, Wesley Chen
instructs his patient to lie down.
A frayed wire, which he has wrapped
around a small piece of metal, is now
plugged in. He covers the metal with
a wet cloth, grips it, and place
electrical wiring, hand crank genera-
tors were used.
es his hand on the patient .
Electricity surges through his
hands and into his patient's
body. This, he says, is electric
Electric qigong, or dian qigong, is a
means of treating a patient without the
exhaustion of the practitioner's own
energy. Its purpose is to supply and
qigong, or
dian qigong,
is a means
of treating
a patient
without the
Though the ability to prop-
erly harness electricity is a
relatively recent development,
a realization of the power of
electricity and how it relates to of the
move qi within the patient's
body. It is simply another tool
practitioner's of Chinese medi-
cine can make use of. There are
many tools available to a prac-
titioner of Chinese medicine,
Chen states. It is important to
understand the functions of
each. All are valid.
The term, he believes, is a
bit misleading; giving people
the illusion that electricity
can be created and transferred
by the practitioner. The tech-
qi dates back centuries. Accord-
ing to Chen, early observa-
own energy
tions of nature, specifically
lightning, led people to the conclu-
sion that this force was pure qi energy.
Crude attempts at trying to filter that
energy into one's body were unsuc-
cessful, to put it mildly. Within recent
history, before the advent of modern
n Asia, some believe that people
born in the Year of the Horse
may be tyrants, revolutionaries,
or thieves. On the other hand, they
have great capacity to excel. Others
are often in awe of them, worship
them, but seldom understand them.
Horse personalities are good at
handling money, but often lose
interest in their goals. Chinese
believe that horses are born to race
or travel, therefore horse people
leave home at a young age, and
remain restless throughout their
life. They are impatient, yet quick-
witted with a huge ego.
They have a hard time
belonging anywhere
for long.
Horse people do
well in groups and are
never short on conver-
sation. Social contact is
important and they often
nique mimics that of standard medi-
cal qigong with the major exception
of the use of electricity. He says that
by using electricity one is able to
conserve their energy, as opposed to
depleting the body through the pos-
form close relationships with others
and will give up anything for a good
romance. But romantic love is not a
top priority for the horse personality
in a horse year.
The horse represents desires and
wishes and is usually associated with
males. The ancients deemed the year
of the horse to have masculine attri-
butes. The hour of the horse falls at
high noon and the month of the
horse includes the summer
solstice, which are both
strong yang forces.
Astrologically, the
horse is placed directly
opposite the rat. The rat is
the creator and the horse is
the "consumer". Therefore
a horse year may be marked
by an increase in business
and commercial activity, par-
ticularly those involved with
non-essentials like luxury cars,
4 QI-The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health & Fitness
sible transference to the patient.
Within Chen's native country of
Taiwan these techniques are consid-
ered the domain of folk medicine.
Such skills are not currently taught
in modern TCM schools, nor can one
currently be licensed as a practitioner
of electric qigong. In Chen's case, it
was through years of studying martial
arts and qigong that his teacher chose
to relay this treatment method to him.
His academic background, which is
in electrical engineering, reinforced
his desire to move in this direction as
opposed to studying at a TCM school.
Chen's personal interest is in the evo-
lution of techniques with the available
technology, as opposed to a reliance
on more traditional methods.
Like much of Chinese Medicine,
Chen believes many are deceived by
electric qigong's seeming simplicity.
Individuals interested in experiment-
ing with practitioner methods often
overestimate their ability to pass a
current through their body to devas-
high fashion, alcoholic beverages,
athletics, and anything "male" ori-
ented. Unfortunately, it is often a
year of waste. A household should
be careful to make sure they don't
overspend their budgets during a
horse year.
The astrological start of the
Year of the Horse is February 4th
in China and February 3rd in the
USA (beginning of Spring), but New
Year's Day, which is the popular cel-
ebration (Spring Festival) begins on
January 31 (new moon of the first
lunar month). 2014 is associated
with the Horse, the color green, and
the element wood.
Popular greetings for New Year
include (xin nian kuai le,
Happy New Year) and (gong
xi fa cai, Congratulations and Prosper-
ity) .
Qi Department: Qigong
tating results. The fact that one can
handcraft a 'machine' by wrapping a
frayed wire around a piece of metal
has led to many injuries amongst
those who mistake great practitioner
skill for ease of practice. The tendency,
amongst most people, is to hold onto
the metal conductor and be unable
to release it. An effective practitioner
must learn how to control the flow of
the current. They must control them-
selves in dealing with shocks to avoid
damaging the body.
A standard electrical outlet has
alternating current (AC). The body
must learn to handle these fluctua-
tions in power. There is a difference,
he believes, between knowing how to
use electric qigong and knowing how
to use it correctly. Some know how
to use this tool but don't understand
why it developed or how to apply it.
According to Chen, a common mis-
conception is that being a practitioner
of qigong will lead to the ability to
handle electricity. This skill, he states,
is not attained through general practice
but through a particular style of qigong
that was developed for this purpose.
Through this style the body quality
is altered so that the electricity does
not harm the practitioner. In Chen's
opinion it is his years of practicing this
style and his increased understanding
of energy that protect him.
The means by which Chen diag-
noses patients is based on a technique
he learned from his master. By observ-
ing the patient and running his hands
over their body he is able to detect
problems with their qi. He describes
this ability as sensing holes in the
body's energy as well as sensing the
color of the energy. Certain colors, he
states, are associated with sickness and
others with health. Even personality
and mood are sensed and evaluated.
The length of treatment, as well as the
length of each session, is based both
upon the strength of the practitioner
and the level of patient need. An aver-
age session can last between one and
two hours.
The sensation felt by the patient
depends largely upon the amount
of electricity the practitioner passes
through his or her hands. This feel -
ing can be quite similar to that of a
TENS machine. Patient descriptions
range from a tingly flood of energy
to pain due to strong muscle contrac-
tion. Chen also believes that these dif-
ferences in sensation depend on the
strength of the body and how much
electricity a patient can tolerate. The
patient serves as the guide for what is
and isn't comfortable. As with e-stim,
electric qigong is contraindicated for
people with pacemakers and defibril-
As Wesley Chen finishes the treat-
ment his patient takes a moment
and then slowly sits up. The shrill,
operatic-like singing that mimicked
the electrical current's intensity has
finally stopped. Chen steps out of the
room and begins preparing tea. The
result of the treatment is written on
the patient's face: total relaxation.
Chen, Wesley. "Electric Qigong."
Personal interview. 23 Mar. 2012.
A me lie de Mahy is an American acupunc-
turist, who spent the last two years study-
ing Chinese medicine in Taipei, Taiwan.
She recently returned from India, where
she did medical work with the Tibetan
religious community of Northern India.
She is a graduate of the Academy of Ori-
ental Medicine at Austin.
WINTER 2013-2014 Ql- 5