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The ancient history of qigong are identified with the segment within
Chinese society where the training is cultivated. Over time, the
concept and practice of different types of qigong acquired similar
philosophical bases. Within the last three decades, those exercises
were explained from a scientific basis. The common thread
throughout history is the increasing popularity of this system of
mindful practice, which has spread throughout China and now
across the world.
According to the traditional Chinese medical community, the
origin of qigong is commonly attributed to the legendary Yellow
Emperor and the classic Book of Internal Medicine.
Archeological evidence may suggest that the first forms of qigong
can be linked to ancient shamanic meditative practice and gymnastic
exercises. The Mawangdui Silk Texts (168 BCE) shows a series
of Tao Yin (導引) exercises that bears physical resemblance to
some of the health exercises being practiced today.
Shamanic rituals and ideas eventually evolved and formalized into
Taoist beliefs and eventually incorporated into the field of
traditional Chinese medicine.
In the Taoist tradition, the writings of Lǎozǐ ("Lao Tzu", ca. 400
BCE) and Zhuāngzǐ; ("Chuang Tzu", ca. 300 BCE) both describe
meditative cultivation and physical exercises to extend one's
lifespan and as means of accessing higher realms of existence.
 The Taoist inner alchemical cultivation
around the Song Dynasty (Chinese: 宋朝; pinyin: Sòng Cháo;
Wade-Giles: Sung Ch'ao; IPA: [ sʊ̂ŋ tʂʰɑ̌ʊ̯ ]) between 960
and 1279, continued those Taoist traditions.
Buddhism, originating in India and having its source in the Hindu
culture, has an extensive system of meditation and physical
cultivation similar to yoga to help the practitioner achieve
enlightenment. When Buddhism was transmitted to China,
some of those practices were assimilated and eventually modified
by the indigenous culture. The resulting transformation was
the start of the Chinese Buddhist qigong tradition. Chinese
Buddhist practice reaches a climax with the emergence of Chán
(禪) Buddhism in the 7th century AD. Meditative practice was
emphasized and a series of qigong exercises known as the Yijin
Jing ("Muscle/Tendon Change Classic") was attributed to
Bodhidharma. The Chinese martial arts community eventually
identify this Yijing Jing as one of the secret training methods in
Shaolin martial arts.
Chinese scholars acknowledged Kǒngzǐ ("Confucius", 551–
479 BCE) and Mèngzǐ ("Mencius", 385–302 BCE) as the
founders of the Scholar qigong tradition. In their writings, they
alluded to the concepts of qi training as methods of moral
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