The Buqi System is the result of the life-work of Dr Shen Hongxun (1939 – 2011). By way of this article, I would like to pay homage to Dr Shen, who was my Teacher, Master, and friend. It is presented as a kind of narrative and review article, to provide an accessible introduction to the Buqi System. It begins with some background details on Dr Shen and his development of the Buqi System, followed by my own story of discovering it. Then we look at the model of health that is at the core of the Buqi System, followed with a brief tour of the system’s component parts: Taiji 37, Wuxi Meditation, Taijiwuxigong, and Buqi Therapy.
I hope that many readers will find it interesting and perhaps it will even provoke curiosity to give the Buqi System a try for yourselves.
The Buqi System incorporates the Taiji 37 style Taijiquan, Wuxi Meditation, Taijiwuxigong (a complete Qigong system), and Buqi Therapy (a unique system of Qigong Therapy). It was developed by Dr Shen Hongxun as a result of many years of study and research, a journey he began in the late 1940s when he was a child. During his childhood, Dr Shen spent a lot of time with his grandfather, Shen Baotai, who encouraged him to practice a Daoist meditation system known as Longmen Wuxigong (Shen 2007a). Then in 1951, Dr Shen also began studying Taijiquan with his family doctor, Dr Wu Baoyuan (Shen, 2007b). He quickly graduated to study with Dr Wu's teacher, Professor Yao Huanzhi (sometimes spelled 'Yue Huanzhi' (Dong, 2006)), who was renowned for his skills with Taiji Jin (ie Taiji forces). Dr Shen continued his studies in Taijiquan, Meditation and Daoyins throughout his life, with a number of key masters, including Tian Zhaoling (Yang family Taijiquan lineage holder (Clark, no date)), Zhou Qianchuan (the E-Mei Daoyin Master (Otehode, 2016)), and Lama Fahai (disciple to Master Huiding and Gongga Khutukutu (Esposito, 2008)).
Professionally, Dr Shen became a doctor, and The Buqi System emerged from his research and development of a universal model of 'health' (body, 'energy-body', mind, spirit). This model was self-consistent, and it seamlessly integrated Western medical science with knowledge from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Traditional Tibetan Medicine, Internal Martial Arts, and other sources of knowledge (rather than denying them) – let’s call it 'the Buqi Model of Health'. In short, this model will make sense to anyone with a Western background who is open-minded enough to consider that there is more to nature than has so far been successfully modelled by Western sciences.
As an Engineer and Academic, it was this model (together with the astounding changes and benefits that I experienced through my study and practice of the Buqi System) that hooked me and has kept me hooked ever since I discovered it in 2001.
My Own Discovery of the Buqi System
As a child, I used to love trying to invent sci-fi inspired devices, like time machines, teleporters, and telepathy devices – basically anything that turns something seemingly ‘magic’ into reality. When I left school, pursuing a career in Electronics/Software Engineering seemed like the natural choice. However, this has lost its appeal over the years, because it is mainly about building systems rather than any ‘magic’.
In my mid- twenties, I was re-inspired by the possibility of turning magic into reality when my dad tried to heal a patch of eczema on my hand by holding his palm a few inches above it. While he held his hand over mine, I felt a very strong tingling sensation in my hand, as though an electric current was flowing into it. This got me thinking. What was this ‘energy field’ that I felt? Do I have the same ability, and can I get ‘good’ at it? What could I use it for? How could I use it to make the world a better place?
I began researching all sorts of leads, reading about the energy body, chakras, inner alchemy, and so on, to find out what path to follow in order to develop this 'latent ability'. All leads just raised more questions than answers. All the information in the books, journals, etc, had no consistent model and evidence. I began to think that if there was anybody in this world with the answers I was looking for, they were keeping them a secret.
Around 1997, I had the idea that this ‘energy field’ might be the same as ‘qi’, and I began looking into learning Taijiquan and Qigong. I tried-out a few teachers before finding my first 'proper' teacher (Paul Brewer) in 2001, who introduced me to the Buqi System and Dr Shen. What stood out for me was not just the quality of the teaching, but also the quality of the knowledge, which had a consistent theoretical basis and clear practical application. So, I was already hooked by the time I first met Dr Shen at his annual Wuxi Meditation course in 2003.
I learned a great deal through my ongoing study and practise of the Buqi System, and I developed an understanding of this ‘energy field’: that it is essentially the same ‘stuff’ as Taiji Jin. With the right understanding and development, it can be used for a number of different things, including healing. However, without that understanding and development, it is likely to be harmful.
There is a whole lot more to the Buqi System than just this, but this is how I came to begin following this path. I now teach Taiji 37, Wuxi Meditation, and Taijiwuxigong in a variety of settings. I also offer Buqi Therapy treatments for my students and other private clients.
The Buqi Model of Health
To understand how Taiji 37, Wuxi Meditation, Taijiwuxigong, and Buqi Therapy integrate to form the overall Buqi System, we need to consider some key elements of the Buqi Model of Health. We begin with a look at 'qi' from the Buqi perspective.
A(nother) Definition of Qi
In the West, we normally interpret the term 'qi' to mean something like 'vital energy' or 'life force'. However, in Chinese, it has many meanings, and evidence of its use dates back at least three thousand years, across China and beyond (Shen, 2007c). Within the Buqi Model of Health, the meaning of qi tends to be consistent with modern TCM. In this model, the 'vital energy' referred to above is a specific type of qi, called Yuanqi.
Binqi is an important type of qi in The Buqi Model of Health (Shen, 2011), which consists of pathogenic factors resulting from metabolic waste, by-products of emotions, products of bacteria and virus, etc. Binqi is further categorised in terms of our internal experience of it, particularly when it moves through the (energy-)body, eg: wind-binqi, cold-binqi, hot-binqi, etc. In practice, we also tend to associate it with other, less subtle substances that it often moves with, eg: blood, lymph, synovial fluid, lactic acid, methane, water, etc.
Under normal (healthy) conditions, the amount of binqi present within the body at any point in time is quite low, and it continually flows out of the body via a number of routes. However, under certain conditions, the body can begin to over-produce binqi, and/or the binqi can accumulate in various parts of the body. It is this over-production and accumulation of binqi that is linked to a wide range of illnesses, many of which are not yet fully understood by the Western Medical scientific community.
One of the key outcomes of Dr Shen's medical research was his discovery of the processes that give rise to the over-production and accumulation of binqi, which he modelled as 'the Double Vicious Circle of Illness' (Shen, 2011).
The Double Vicious Circle of Illness (DVC)The DVC consists of two interrelated vicious circles: the Vicious Circle of Body Posture and the Vicious Circle of Mental Stress. The Vicious Circle of Body Posture originated from Dr Shen's research into the use of Qigong to treat myopia, which primarily concerns how binqi accumulates. It consists of four mutually-dependent stages:
1. Prolonged poor body posture, resulting in increased physical tension, thus narrowing the spaces between the joints (especially between the vertebrae).
2. Reduced flow of body fluids, (blood, lymph, cerebrospinal fluid, etc), and hence qi.
3. Accumulation of binqi in the regions of tension (especially the spine), which causes discomfort/pain (physical stress).
4. Further contraction of the joints (ie worsened body posture) in response to the discomfort.
Dr Shen later identified the Vicious Circle of Mental Stress, which concerns how binqi is over-produced. We can similarly break this down into stages:
1. Mental stress, ie: spending too much time thinking about things that either have happened in the past or might happen in the future, or as a result of various internal or external pressures (ie either from ourselves or others).
2. Negative emotions, ie: the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight) is constantly active, often resulting from mental stress, but can also be due to physical stress.
3. Over-production of binqi, as a result of an over-active sympathetic nervous system.
These two vicious circles are bound together through an over-active sympathetic nervous system, experienced as a rollercoaster of emotions (ranging from anger to fear, and everything in-between). The physical response is poor body posture, the mental response is mental stress, resulting in both over-production and accumulation of binqi.
Figure 1 - Diagram of the DVC
A fundamental aim of the Buqi System then, is to break both sides of the DVC. A number of the exercises in the Buqi System involve developing and maintaining an appropriate flow of qi throughout the body and meridians/channels, by improving body posture (hence freeing-up blockages), allowing the binqi to freely flow from its sources to key exit points (Shen, 2011). Other exercises involve developing and maintaining a healthy/balanced mind throughout everyday life, thus minimising the production of binqi. These goals can be ultimately achieved through regular study and practice of Taiji 37, Taijiwuxigong, and Wuxi Meditation, but they must be applied within all areas of our everyday life for this approach to work properly.
Components of the Buqi SystemIn this section, we take a brief look at Taiji 37, Wuxi Meditation, Taijiwuxigong, and Buqi Therapy, highlighting their origins and their functions - particularly in how they can work towards breaking the DVC in ourselves and others. As spontaneous movement crops-up in all of these, we shall begin with a closer look at that.
Spontaneous MovementSpontaneous movement actually takes place within our bodies all through our life, eg: the heartbeat, blinking, peristalsis, and other, more subtle movement. These are what we might term 'involuntary' spontaneous movements, as they tend not to require our conscious volition to make them happen. However, we can voluntarily induce other spontaneous movements in the body, through adopting a particular state of mind, together with specific, finely tuned standing, seated, or lying-down postures, so that the lower dantian (a region in the belly that is enclosed by the deep abdominal muscles) becomes 'activated' (Shen, 2011). This activation manifests vibrations which, through use of the correct posture and attitude, then travel and resonate throughout the body. Different postures result in different effects, but fundamentally, the vibrations help the qi to flow.
Taiji 37Dr Shen developed Taiji 37 from a style of Taijiquan whose routes lie in Siming Shan, in Zhejiang province. This rare style was colloquially known as Siming Pai or Nan Pai (Southern School) Taijiquan. The Taiji 37 style retains the full 37 postures of Nan Pai Taijiquan, which are practised individually to generate controlled, finely-tuned spontaneous movement (Shen, 2007d). The Taiji 37 style form consists of these postures strung together in a sequence similar to other short Taijiquan forms.
In the early stages (eg 3 years), diligent training in the postures gradually corrects habitual poor posture. This then results in relief from the associated discomfort of accumulated binqi. After the practitioner has developed further precision in the postures and movements, controlled spontaneous movements become possible, which contribute to a better flow of binqi out of the body. Spontaneous movement is also linked to the relatively rapid development of Taiji Jin that students can achieve. Taiji 37 is therefore a fully functional internal martial art. However, the Taiji Jin can also be employed for healing oneself and others.
Wuxi MeditationWuxi Meditation ultimately develops other latent abilities, through adopting correct body posture and breathing, coupled with meditation exercises from Chan, Tibetan, and Daoist traditions. Dr Shen found that some of the foundational principles of Taiji 37 (ie posture, breath, movement) were extant in the early forms of these meditation practises, but tended to have lost favour over time. Placing appropriate emphasis back into these aspects re-invigorated the meditation.
The first step in the meditation practise is to find the 'centre of the mind', which can break-through the negative thought patterns of mental stress, and develop a more calm and positive outlook (Shen, 2007f). Through the calmer mind and correct posture, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems become more balanced, thus reducing the overall levels of binqi production within the body. With regular practise, this balance can be maintained and carried into everyday life.
TaijiwuxigongTaijiwuxigong (Shen, 2011) is a complete Qigong exercise system, which Dr Shen developed through medical research using Taiji 37 and Wuxi Meditation as its basis. A Taijiwuxigong student would normally begin by learning the 'Wuxi Daoyins', a set of standing exercises that are finely tuned to correct the posture (especially the spine), activate the dantian, and rapidly free-up and expel accumulated binqi.
However, Taijiwuxigong is probably best known for its core practice of free spontaneous movement, through use of the 'Wuxi' standing, sitting, and lying-down postures, (under the close supervision of a qualified teacher). The 'Wuxi' postures were devised to allow qi to flow freely throughout the body, 'pumped' by the activated dantian. As the accumulated binqi begins to free-up and flow again, the body begins to self-correct through an evolution of specific spontaneous movements.
Buqi TherapyThe final piece of the system is Buqi Therapy (Shen, 2007e), a complementary therapy in which the practitioner diagnoses and treats clients according to the Buqi Model of Health. The aim is to break both sides of the double vicious circle, by restoring balance to the nervous system and correcting poor posture. Diagnosis involves finding any areas of accumulated binqi and understanding its relationship to the client's habitual posture.
The practitioner begins the treatment process by using specific Taiji Jin to clear areas of accumulated binqi. Gentle exercises are then prescribed, which continue the binqi clearing process, and begin to restore posture and calm the mind. Buqi therapy is particularly useful for clients who either need some help at the early stages of their self-healing journey (hence Taijiwuxigong would be too strong and/or painful for them), or because of a particularly difficult localised problem that is preventing them from exercising (eg an infection).
Closing RemarksStudents choose the Buqi System for a variety of reasons, from simply improving their health, posture, mobility, and fitness, through to the more esoteric offerings of Taiji Jin, and spiritual development. Some students study specific components, others choose to learn it all. As with all exercise systems, it can only really be learned with the guidance of an expert teacher.
Shen Jin (Dr Shen’s daughter) and Shen Zhengyu (Dr Shen’s son) are obviously very experienced with this knowledge, having studied it directly with their father most of their lives. They are both based in Belgium and offer courses throughout Europe. However, the UK also has a thriving community of excellent teachers, so do look us up if you want to give it a try!
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