by Alister Gillies
August 15, 2010
The roots of Qigong (pronounced ‘chee gung’), according to anthropologists, can be traced back several thousand years to the shamanic practices of nomadic peoples who inhabited northern Asia and the Ural Altaic region.
The Anma arts, a form of body energy work combining acupressure, massage, manipulation and bone-setting, predate Reiki and Shiatsu by some 3000 years. Originating in China, the Anma arts spread from Korea to Japan where they became a specialised skill of retired Jujutsu practitioners. Albinos were said to be particularly gifted in its use, and it was also an integral part of a Zen monk’s medical training. Such practices are still extant today among the Sakha (Yakut), Chukchi, and Evenki peoples of Siberia.
Core shamanistic beliefs, which include body forms derived from dance, breath work, trance inducing techniques, animistic and polytheistic beliefs and myths, art, music and images and symbols were all assimilated by other major cultural and religious movements like Buddhism (India), Taoism (China) and Shinto (Japan).
Within ancient pre-literate cultures a shaman was an individual, usually someone with certain unique characteristics, who stood out from among the other members of their tribe or society. They could be left handed, epileptic or even of indeterminate gender; often shamans would be associated with particular families that passed on certain genetically inherited traits, such as a physical disability.
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