Lifestyle

Qi Gong: Exercise fit for a king

 Johann Sasynuik performs a movement from the Tai Chi Qi Gong “ruler” set, a Chinese exercise technique to strengthen mind and body. The wooden spacer keeps his hands a set distance apart. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Johann Sasynuik performs a movement from the Tai Chi Qi Gong “ruler” set, a Chinese exercise technique to strengthen mind and body. The wooden spacer keeps his hands a set distance apart.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Legend has it that, many hundreds of years ago, the first Song Dynasty emperor in China united the country and settled down from generalship to deliver peace to a war-torn nation. As a gift, his teacher, a famous Daoist scholar, created a new form of Tai Chi-style exercise, known as Qi Gong, to assist him in constant demands of government.

Ten centuries later, the exercise is still taught. One local practicioner is Johann Sasynuik, the Sifu, or teacher, at Kung Fu Club of Issaquah and Fall City.

While the Tai Chi most westerners are familiar with is a martial-arts movement, Qi Gong is focused on health and longevity.

“The emperor was already a mighty warrior,” Sasynuik said. “He needed to push papers all day and not lose his vitality.”

Qi Gong, legend says, allowed him to live into his hundreds.

While younger people might be drawn to the fighting movements, Qi Gong is a softer, slower movement.

Most practicioners are middle aged or older. Sasynuik’s oldest student is 98.

The entire set, once learned, takes about 30 minutes to complete, Susyaniak said. Participants can deepen their breathing, increase leg strength, promote longevity and health and resolve illness. Spinal flexibility, body symmetry and relaxed movement are also promoted by the exercise.

For those in good shape, lower, longer, slower movements provide a more challenging workout.

“It’s an individual exercise,” Saynuik said. “You’re not trying to be better than anybody but yourself.”

To see a demonstration, visit the Kung Fu Club of Fall City at 32841 SE. 47th Pl., or call (425) 392-4712.

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