By January 17, 2015 9 Comments Read More →

Is Qi the Same Thing as Bioelectricity?

Qigong_chi_kungDr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, YMAA
Waking Times

It is important that you know about the progress that has been made by modern science in the study of Qi. This will keep you from getting stuck in the ancient concepts and level of understanding.

In ancient China, people had very little knowledge of electricity. They only knew from acupuncture that when a needle was inserted into the acupuncture cavities, some kind of energy other than heat was produced which often caused a shocking or a tickling sensation. It was not until the last few decades, when the Chinese people were more acquainted with electromagnetic science, that they began to recognize that this energy circulating in the body, which they called Qi, might be the same thing as what today’s science calls “bioelectricity.”

We must look at what modern Western science has discovered about bioelectromagnetic energy. Many bioelectricity related reports have been published, and frequently the results are closely related to what is experienced in Chinese Qigong training and medical science. For example, during the electrophysiological research of the 1960’s, several investigators discovered that bones are piezoelectric; that is, when they are stressed, mechanical energy is converted to electrical energy in the form of electric current. This might explain one of the practices of Marrow Washing Qigong in which the stress on the bones and muscles is increased in certain ways to increase the Qi circulation.


It is understood now that the human body is constructed of many different electrically conductive materials, and that it forms a living electromagnetic field and circuit. Electromagnetic energy is continuously being generated in the human body through the biochemical reaction in food and air assimilation, and circulated by the electromotive forces (EMF) generated within the body.

In addition, you are constantly being affected by external electromagnetic fields such as that of the earth, or the electrical fields generated by clouds. When you practice Chinese medicine or Qigong, you need to be aware of these outside factors and take them into account.

Countless experiments have been conducted in China, Japan, and other countries to study how external magnetic or electrical fields can affect and adjust the body’s Qi field. Many acupuncturists use magnets and electricity in their treatments. They attach a magnet to the skin over a cavity and leave it there for a period of time. The magnetic field gradually affects the Qi circulation in that channel. Alternatively, they insert needles into cavities and then run an electric current through the needle to reach the Qi channels directly. Although many researchers have claimed a degree of success in their experiments, none has been able to publish any detailed and convincing proof of the results, or give a good explanation of the theory behind the experiment. As with many other attempts to explain the How and Why of acupuncture, conclusive proof is elusive, and many unanswered questions remain. Of course, this theory is quite new, and it will take more study and research before it is verified and completely understood.

Much of the research on the body’s electrical field relates to acupuncture. For example, Dr. Robert O. Becker, author of The Body Electric1, 2, reports that the conductivity of the skin is much higher at acupuncture cavities, and that it is now possible to locate them precisely by measuring the skin’s conductivity. Many of these reports prove that the acupuncture which has been done in China for thousands of years is reasonable and scientific.

Although the link between the theory of “the Body Electric” and the Chinese theory of Qi is becoming more accepted and better proven, there are still many questions to be answered. For example, how can the mind lead Qi (electricity)? How actually does the mind generate an EMF (electromotive force) to circulate the electricity in the body? How is the human electromagnetic field affected by the multitude of other electric fields which surround us, such as radio wiring or electrical appliances? How can we readjust our electromagnetic fields and survive in outer space or on other planets where the magnetic field is completely different from the earth’s? You can see that the future of Qigong and bioelectric science is a challenging and exciting one. It is about time that we started to use modern technology to understand the inner energy world which has been for the most part ignored by Western society.

About the Author

Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming, is a renowned author and teacher of Chinese martial arts and Qigong. Born in Taiwan, he has trained and taught Taijiquan, Qigong and Chinese martial arts for over forty-five years. He is the author of over thirty books, and was elected by Inside Kung Fu magazine as one of the 10 people who has “made the greatest impact on martial arts in the past 100 years.” Dr. Yang lives in Northern California.

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  • Aane

    The author of the article wrote, “In ancient China, people had very little knowledge of electricity. They only knew from acupuncture that when a needle was inserted into the acupuncture cavities, some kind of energy other than heat was produced which often caused a shocking or a tickling sensation. It was not until the last few decades, when the Chinese people were more acquainted with electromagnetic science, that they began to recognize that this energy circulating in the body, which they called Qi, might be the same thing as what today’s science calls “bioelectricity.””

    I would just like to add that it may not be entirely true that in ancient China, there was no knowledge of electricity. Some Daoist practitioners were able to cultivate their practice to such a high level that the qi in their xia tian (often referred to as ‘dan tian’, which is technically not always correct) was powerful enough for their bodies to produce actual electricity. You can search for “New John Chang video” in youtube. The individual referred to as “John Chang” in this video belongs to an ancient lineage of Daoist practice, which still has adherents today, in different sects (or ‘pai’). Such specialized practitioners had specialized practical knowledge of ‘bio-electricity’. They may however not have had ‘scientific’ knowledge of the phenomena they experienced through their cultivation. Such individuals existed in ancient times and are still around today, “John Chang” is not the only one.

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  • Meter

    This article is a lie, whether deliberate or otherwise. Qi goes much deeper than bioelectricity, although it can produce and control it, as it can any physical aspect. It goes into a realm not yet measurable by ‘science’, a realm where spirit meets physical. It’s sad to see science once again trying to pave over deeper understandings. Leave the word ‘Qi’ alone – it’s not what these materialistic eggheads think it is.

    • Perhaps consider it to be a ‘modern definition’ rather than a lie. A contribution to the greater holistic understanding of Qi, not the entire definition. Dr. Yang is one of the most excellent masters and teachers of this ancient practice there are. His books and videos are highly recommended. Search our site for more of his articles for a broader look at his work in furthering our understanding and interaction with Qi.

      Regards,

      _Dylan

      • Meter

        The reason I called it a lie is because it is deceiving in my view. It is hiding true Qi. He writes: “For example, how can the mind lead Qi (electricity)?” So there he is equating Qi with just this electricity.

        I have no problem with science exploring the real effects of Qi. Yet Qi goes far beyond electricity, even far beyond the confines of one’s body. It gets into the very fabric of life, the energy which powers the ‘reality’ dream we live in. Qi is ultimately capable of miracles, as in moving mountains. In a sense, it is infinite. To equate it with electricity is robbing people who do not know of this depth. Now when they hear “Qi”, they will just think bioelectricity. So to me this article is contributing to the ever-encroaching materialism that is seeking to disappear the true mystical, spiritual, and unknown.

        If he knows so much, why would he ask the question “Is Qi the same thing as bioelectricity?” Titles like this usually serve as statements, and it carries a huge lie.

        I’ll take your word for it that he is more than just deceptive, but I think he should make clear that he is exploring Qi’s effect on bioelectricity, rather than equating the two so definitively.

        Why anyone who knows Qi deeply and genuinely would ask such a silly question, or even be concerned with measuring electrical currents is beyond me.

        If your goal is to even more deeply forget what the ancients knew, then redefining words like Qi is a great way to go about it, and very common. I have serious doubts about this teacher just based on this behavior alone. But perhaps in a rush to gain mainstream acceptance of it, he is destroying it – again not uncommon. To that I would say, don’t cater to fools, or to your ego’s needs.

        I personally I have witnessed my and others’ Qi ‘perform’ acts which sure aren’t explained by bioelectricity – in fact they defy any rational explanation at all. Had to call you out on this one, regardless of how famous he is.

      • Meter

        Of course, it’s also true that many people only access Qi through mental and physical exercises. This can be profound in itself, but they will miss the more powerful depths, which are rooted in Being. This depth is accessed not through the mind (as in the thoughts ‘controlling’ electrical currents), but through will and intent directly. This gets more into mysticism and the esoteric, which scientific minds are usually blind to. So they will merrily redefine Qi and other concepts based on their shallow experiences of them.

    • Anonymous

      So you know more than the author, who has TAUGHT martial arts/qigong for FORTY FIVE YEARS? If you’ve taught longer than that, I might listen to you. I think I’ll go with the qigong master.

      • Meter

        Oh, well I guess if he has FORTY FIVE YEARS of experience, we should all shut up and believe everything we’re told, since we can’t possibly think for ourselves, have our own experiences to draw from, or have any say on the matter.

        I suggest you find a doctor who has been performing pre-frontal lobotomies for FORTY FIVE YEARS and avail yourself of his expertise. It’s an even shorter path and then no thinking from others will ever trouble you again. It’s bliss.

      • Roddy6667

        Teaching or believing something does not make it true. People have taught countless religions, philosophies, political theories, and hare-brained medical and scientific ideas for many decades. They are still just superstition.

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