from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Chinese term ( Chinese    /  , Pinyin , IPA ( standard Chinese) [ tɕʰi˥˩ ], W.-G. Ch'i , German pronunciation mostly [ tʃiː ]), also as Ch'i , in Japan as Ki ( Jap. / ) and in Korea as Gi ( kor. / ) known means energy, breath or fluid, but can literally translated air, gas (physics and chemistry), steam, breath, ether and temperament , Force or atmosphere (cf. Greek pneuma ). In addition, Qi describes the emotions of the person and, according to the modern Daoist view, also stands for the activity of the neurohormonal system.

Qi is a central term in Daoism . The term can already be found in the 42nd chapter of Daodejing ; the Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi described the cosmos as consisting of qi. In addition, the idea of ​​Qi is the ideal basis of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and the so-called internal martial arts .

The concept of Qi still shapes the world understanding of many people in Asia and increasingly also in the West and is important for various religions . In an adapted form, the concept associated with the term has also found its way into Western thinking since the 19th century, especially as part of esoteric teachings.

Nature of qi

According to the culture of ancient China and Daoism, Qi as a flowing life force permeates and accompanies everything that exists and happens. Standstill of qi is synonymous with death.

As the substance of which the whole universe is made both physically and mentally, it is presented as vital energy, life force or an all-pervading cosmic spirit, but is neither physical nor spiritual in nature. In a constantly changing reality, Qi is the only constant quantity.

According to Taoist ideas, the world emerged from the original Qi (Yuanqi), in which Yin and Yang were still mixed. Heaven and earth were only formed through the separation of the one: what Yangqi received rose bright and clear and became heaven, what Yinqi received became dark and heavy and sank to the earth. And what yin and yang received in just and balanced proportions was the person in the middle.

Like humans, heaven and earth breathe according to these ideas. As with humans, their flow is pure and unused when inhaling and used when exhaling. Therefore, the day is divided into two parts: between midnight and noon is the time when heaven and earth breathe in. Breathing exercises should only be carried out during this period, since only then can positive energy be absorbed, but not between noon and midnight, because then heaven and earth exhale.

The flow of Qi has a special meaning for the animate world. So z. B. The Qi of the sun contributes to the growth of plants, the Qi of the functional circuit liver distributes the blood / Xue in the body, the Qi of the mother protects the child, the Qi of the earth supports the house, etc.

Neiqi and Waiqi

The term Neiqi stands for "Inner Breath" and describes the energy stored inside the body. In contrast to this is Waiqi , the “outer breath”, i.e. the air that is inhaled. Neiqi is the energy of the primal breath, the Yuanqi (see above), which is taken over at birth. When a person is born, the mind, body, saliva and semen of the man are formed through the absorption of the original qi.

According to the Daoist view, it is important to strengthen, shape and maintain the Neiqi inside the body or, if possible, to return it to its original, pure state. Numerous Daoist breathing exercises are used for this. Up until the Tang Dynasty , the prevailing opinion was that breathing exercises should hold your breath in order to retain and circulate the energy in the body. This view then changed in the middle of the Tang Dynasty. The opinion now prevailed that when the breath was circulated, it was not the outer Qi, but the inner Qi that was circulating in the body, whereby one could refrain from the dangerous exercise of holding one's breath for up to 200 heartbeats.

Teachings based on understanding Qi

Naturally, people's qi has always been shown to be of particular interest. A number of teachings and techniques were formed that tried to produce special effects by specifically influencing the flow of Qi.

The general term “Qi” was refined further when talking about special phenomena or processes. So z. B. the above-mentioned "Liver-Qi" from the vocabulary of traditional Chinese medicine and describes the Qi, which allows the functional group of the liver (which does not correspond to the organ of the liver according to Western understanding, but includes much more) to exercise its function in the human body .


Qi played an important role in the teaching of the neo-Confucian philosopher Zhu Xi , who tried to combine the two great traditional teachings of ancient China, Daoism and Confucianism . Zhu Xi distinguished between Qi, the material aspect of reality, and Li, the given fixed order, i.e. the formal aspect. In his view, the connection of both aspects of reality leads to the emergence of the visible world.


As a form of meditation , concentration and movement for cultivating body and mind, Qigong (“work on Qi”) is concerned with strengthening and harmonizing the Qi (flow) in the human body, on which physical and mental health depend. Qigong is also one of the five pillars of traditional Chinese medicine. See also Faqi .

Feng Shui

In Feng Shui , the relationship of man is considered to its environment. It is important to design this in such a way that it is pleasant and beneficial for people and thereby has a positive influence on the Qi (flow) cycle in the body and in the environment. Likewise, unfavorable or harmful effects should be eliminated. For example, Feng Shui speaks of “bad qi in the bathroom” when considering the harmful influences that emanate from a bathroom.

Martial arts

In many Far Eastern martial arts , the conscious perception and control over the Qi plays a role. Examples are in particular the internal martial arts such as Taijiquan and Aikidō , but also the Shaolin martial arts . On the one hand, the practice of martial arts should strengthen and harmonize the flow of Qi, on the other hand, the practitioner should also be able to use the Qi for the martial art. For example, the ability of a fighter to cut thick boards with one blow in a break test and not to injure himself is attributed to the fact that, through long training, he is able to concentrate the Qi on a narrow area of ​​the hand edge. The strength of Qi shows itself not only in the release of strength but also in the attention to the Qi flow in a conflict situation, which enables the martial artist to perceive the intentions of the opponent at an early stage. Some martial arts such as Aikidō developed from this the principle of Aiki, i. H. the attunement of movement to the universal qi for the purpose of harmonizing opposing energies.

Qi in traditional Chinese medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), Qi is viewed as a general life energy or energy of the spiritual . Bringing the Qi in the body back to its natural, balanced state is the basic principle of every traditional Chinese form of therapy.

If both forces are in perfect harmony, the flow of qi in the body is also balanced. The model of traditional Chinese medicine assumes that the human body has functional circuits or "elements" inside that correspond to an energy flow that runs partly on the body surface and partly slightly below it. According to the Daoist view, the most important pathways are the servant and the handlebar vessel. These channels of energy flow are called “channels” or “ meridians ”. These ideas contradict scientific knowledge about the function and structure of the human body.

Illness is a product of the interruption of this harmonious flow. According to this view, illness can u. a. arise from a lack of qi flow, from stagnation, from lack of qi itself or from used up qi that has not been diverted. TCM therefore tries to cure physical illnesses through various practices that aim to balance the flow of qi in the body. Some of these techniques include herbal medicine , special diets and nutritional teachings, and acupuncture . Since a so-called prenatal Qi cannot be increased, the TCM is very critical of starvation diets . They should not be carried out in everyday life, but only serve spiritual purposes, such as meditation .

Qi and western culture

The idea of ​​a Qi flow flowing through the body is an essential part of the Daoist worldview and is based on very early Chinese ideas that are still carried today by many people in Asia. Since traditional Daoist thinking does not differentiate between objective-external and subjective-internal reality to the same extent as today's scientific view, the different meanings of the term (human emotions, breath, steam, energy, etc.) represent for people who are affected by the The existence of Qi is not a contradiction in terms. Since traditional knowledge is geared more towards healing and efficacy than to gaining objective knowledge, it is sufficient to perceive the effect of Qi in the world or in the effects of those based on the concept To feel or to guess techniques.

An assimilation of new scientific findings is therefore usually successful. These are integrated into the existing worldview, provided that they are useful for understanding it. For example, the discovery of "surprised bacilli " as pathogens not the traditional Chinese medicine, as they made Daoist view phenomenological were functionally known for over 2000 years. The concept of a "defense Qì" could also be expanded to include the knowledge of the immune system.

By preoccupying with the traditional Chinese teachings and adopting the health teachings and techniques mentioned, the Qi concept has also spread increasingly in the ideas of people from western cultures since the 1970s . This can lead to a simplification of the complex Daoist system. Especially in esotericism , Qi is then understood as a kind of subtle energy . This view is reinforced by the simplified translation of Qi as life energy or the like.

The existence of such an energy form has not been scientifically proven.

Some people see qi as a useful concept that helps to understand various phenomena and develop the skills to influence them. In this explanatory model, the Qi has no physical reality, it is only a phenomenological description of reality. This explanation does not necessarily contradict scientific knowledge.

Other spiritual ideas

Classic concepts

  • Prana , the Indian conception
  • Lung, the Tibetan term
  • Mana , in the cultural and religious beliefs of the Polynesian peoples
  • Ruach , in the Jewish religion
  • Pneuma , ancient Greek conception from the perspective of the totality of the Qì
  • Baraka , classical Arabic conception; is strongly tied to places and partly to people and their healing powers
  • Inua among the Inuit
  • Wakȟáŋ among the Sioux peoples
  • Manitu among the Algonquin
  • Orenda with the Iroquois
  • Pokunt with the Shoshone
  • Mauala ( Kwakiutl )
  • Sgâna ( Haida )
  • Geomancy , teachings of Arabic origin that were reflected in the medieval occident

Newer concepts

In addition, there are newer, partly esoteric conceptions in which reference is made to Qi - either implicitly or even expressis verbis :

Sports medicine perspective

The classic view of Qi hardly plays a role in western athlete training. In physiologically oriented experiments in which Asian martial artists stated that they used their Qi in certain parts of the body, e.g. For example, to concentrate in the arms or legs, thermal imaging cameras showed that precisely there was increased muscle tension, which was prepared for special performances such as withstanding or performing powerful blows. From a purely physiological point of view, Qi can therefore also be described as simple muscle tension that is consciously controlled and above all concentrated by means of nerve impulses.

Meaning of the word for the game "Scrabble"

In the game Scrabble , the term Qi (or its genitive Qis ) plays an important role in that it is one of the very few words in German that begin with the letter Q for which you do not need u as the second letter. Thus, the term is often the only way to discard the Q.

See also


  • Manfred Kubny: Qi - Life Force Concepts in China. Definitions, theories and fundamentals . Haug, Heidelberg 1995, ISBN 3-7760-1492-X ( empirical medicine, naturopathic treatment : Simultaneously: Munich, Univ., Diss., 1993).
  • Tom Williams: What Makes the Qi Flow. Basics and methods of traditional Chinese medicine . Aurum-Verlag, Braunschweig 1996, ISBN 3-591-08382-8 ( holistically healthy ).
  • Andrea Zauner-Dungl: Is Qi Gong suitable for the prevention of idiopathic spinal disorders? In: Wiener Medical Wochenschrift . 154, 23-24, 2004, ISSN  0043-5341 , pp. 564-567.
  • Ichiro Yamaguchi : Ki as physical reason. Contribution to the intercultural phenomenology of corporeality . Fink, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-7705-3204-X ( transitions 31; also: Habil.-Schr.).
  • KW Chen, M. Samuel, C. Shiflett, N. Ponzio, He Binhui, DK Elliott, SE Keller: A preliminary study of the effect of the external Qigong on lymphoma growth in mice . In: The Journal of alternative and complementary medicine . Volume 8, Number 5, 2002, ISSN  1075-5535 , pp. 615-621.

Individual evidence

  1. Qi in Duden online
  2. a b c Gabriel Stux, Niklas Stiller, Brian Berman, Bruce Pomeranz: Acupuncture. ISBN 978-3-540-76763-3 , p. 39 ( limited preview in Google book search).
  3. Hans van Ess : Confucianism . 2nd Edition. CH Beck Knowledge, No. 2306 . CH Beck, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-406-48006-5 , p. 78-83 .
  4. Kisshomaru Ueshiba: The Spirit of Aikido. Heidelberg 1993.
  5. Marcel Mauss: A General Theory of Magic . Routledge, 2005, ISBN 978-1-134-52224-8 ( google.de [accessed February 11, 2020]).