Chi kung, literally, means energy skill, but if we want to define chi kung in the context of internal martial and therapeutic arts, we can say that chi kung stands for energy metabolism, refinement and transformation of chi, through stances, postures, movements, breathing patterns, sound, concentration, visualisation and mental stillness.
While all of these exercises are unarguably quite effective on their own, their practice should be complemented with other types of effort, and only then can we fully benefit from these activities. We can easily feel their effect, as they help us relax, build our stamina and generate chi; and yet, they can be likened to hatha yoga, which produces the same results, but also needs to be complemented with other practices, if what we are striving for is a complete yoga, and to turn hatha into raja yoga.
An advanced student can see the role that any particular skill plays in the wider context, and sees all skills as leading to the same goal, like the spokes of a wheel. So he neither underestimates nor overestimates the value and importance of any one of them.
The energy surge and chi circulation can be relatively easy to experience even for a beginner, yet so many practitioners remain as if mesmerised by this sensation, as if it were some sort of miracle, not a regular side-effect, and they go on and on about chi, like a broken record, in the same groove, their practice an endless loop repeating the same and the same and the same. In such a case, chi kung or tai chi chuan practice doesn’t lead to Tai Chi, and Juttsu cannot make that leap into Do, but remains an end in itself, just to maintain that feeling of wellness. And we see tai chi chuan “groovers” and karate fanatics. But I have always believed, and sometimes seen, that just a little nudge (we can call it a shove if you insist) is all that is needed to set a practitioner back on the course of continuing a complex melody. We all sometimes like idling at some favourite point in life, it feels comfortable and familiar, makes us feel safe; but sooner or later we tire of facing a dead-end.
Ananda summed it up as:
Once we generate the energy and establish that magical flow, what are we going to do with it? What are we to invest it in, what should we convert it into? How are we to learn about chi-budgeting and distribution?