The Teachings of Kenneth S. Cohen
Qigong, Tai Chi, Taoism, Health, Tea & Cultural Arts
Qigong techniques are suitable for men and women, young and old, athletes and sedentary, and for the disabled. All styles are based on similar principles: relaxed, rooted posture; straight, supple spine; diaphragmatic respiration-- the abdomen expanding on inhalation, retracting on exhalation; fluid movements without excess effort; and tranquil awareness. For more information, please read the Qigong FAQs page.
Ken Cohen offers training in Qigong health and wellness styles, visualization and meditation practices, External Qi Healing and Therapeutic (Medical) Qigong. He also offers courses and comprehensive training in Chinese Inner Martial Arts and Tai Chi and the science, culture, and delights of Chinese Tea (See Tea Talks and Tastings).
The Repertoire: Programs Taught By Ken Cohen
Depending on the length of the course or workshop, a program generally concentrates on one or two of the methods or topics listed below. Programs may also be designed to meet special interests and needs of your group.
Relaxation Qigong (Fang Song Gong). Sophisticated methods of progressive relaxation that may be practiced standing, seated, or supine.
Bone Marrow Cleansing (Xi Sui Jing). The classic system of purification qigong, attributed to Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. Bone Marrow Cleansing sends healing qi through the bones. Studies suggest positive effects on the immune system.
Healing Sounds (Liu Qi Fa). Beginning and advanced levels of Healing Sounds, an integration of sound and posture to drive toxins out of the lungs, heart, liver, spleen, and kidneys. The advanced set includes exercises to detoxify acupuncture points and meridians. The Healing Sounds are widely prescribed in China and have an excellent clinical record.
Primordial Qigong (Hunyuan Gong). An exceptionally rare and powerful qigong from the ancient Taoist tradition and transmitted today by renowned Taiji Quan Master Feng Zhiqiang. Professor Cohen learned this system originally from one of Master Feng's senior students, Madame Gao Fu (1916-2005) and also from Master Feng himself. Blend the primordial energy of Heaven and Earth with the energy of life within the body.
Coiling Silk Qigong (Chan Si Gong) Coiling silk refers to the uncoiling of a cocoon as you gently pull a silk thread. Coiling silk movements open and close the joints and stimulate the qi to reach dense, congested, or tight areas.
The Five Animal Frolics (Wu Qin Xi).
The most ancient healing exercise still practiced today.
The Five Animals were created by Hua Tuo, the father of Chinese Medicine
in the second century A.D. The Five Animals are the Crane for relaxation,
the Bear for strength, the Monkey for flexibility, the Deer for grace ,
and the Tiger for power. Photo to the right, Ken Cohen practicing the Deer.
Taiji Ruler (Taiji Chi). The first person to teach this technique publicly, Zhao Zhongdao lived to age 118. Taiji Ruler is attributed to Taoist recluse Chen Xiyi and was until the 1950s a secret of the Chinese imperial family. It consists of easy-to-learn rocking movements that build qi in the feet, lower back, abdomen, and hands. It may be practiced for self-healing or to increase the power of healing touch. The QRPC is one of the few schools in the world that teaches the complete system of Taiji Ruler, including the solo exercises, two person exercises, strength training techniques, and meditative Ruler.
Standing Meditation (Zhan Zhuang). Standing Meditation is the foundation of qigong practice. The student learns to stand in meditative postures for a period of time in order to improve posture, deepen the breath, and increase the body's structural integrity. Better alignment produces greater ease and freedom of movement. An individual who is proficient in Standing Meditation has Peng Jing, Resilient Power and core strength. This makes Standing Meditation an excellent qigong to prevent impact injuries, whether from a fall, a flying object (or bumping into one), or a martial arts fist. Having Peng Jing doesn’t mean that one cannot be injured, only that one is far less likely to be injured.
Yi Quan (The Mind-Intent Healing and Martial Art) is one of the greatest, most comprehensive systems of qigong, the legacy of the esteemed Master Wang Xiangzhai. Because of its extraordinary attention to posture, movement, breathing, and mindfulness, Yi Quan teaches the vocabulary upon which qigong is based. Evidence suggests that it is excellent for brain health, neurological functioning, and as complementary therapy for Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Brain Injury, and balance problems. It is as effective for optimizing health as for improving athletic performance. Yi Quan includes Standing Meditation, Walking Meditation, Shi Li (“Experimenting with Force” Methods of Receiving, Sending, and Moving Energy to improve coordination), Healing Imagery, Fa Jing (Discharging Power for martial arts or sports), one-on-one postural therapy, Jian Wu (Health Dance: improvisational and creative combinations of techniques in flowing patterns), and much more.
Muscle/Tendon Transformation (Yi Jin Jing). Dynamic isometric exercises combined with respiratory techniques. Builds strength and power without muscle mass.
The Eight Brocades (Ba Duan Jin). The eight brocades is a simple qigong warm-up and stretch routine that students learn in one or two classes.
Eighteen Monks (Shi Ba Luohan). Vigorous stretching, strengthening, balance, and conditioning exercises to improve sports and martial arts performance.
Xingyi Quan is the dynamic sister art of Tai Chi. Like Tai Chi, it may be practiced for health or as a vocabulary of self-defense technique. According to legend, the founder of Xingyi Quan incorporated Muscle Transforming Qigong, Marrow Washing Qigong, Chinese medical theory, and close observation of nature to create this beautiful art. The Five Elements of Xingyi Quan are Xing- Body, Yi-Mind, Quan-Martial and Athletic Skill. Practices include San Ti Standing Meditation to harmonize the energies of the Heavenly, Earthly and Human, as well as Xingyi Five Element exercises for metal, water, wood, fire and earth. Visit the Inner Martial Arts and Tai Chi page for more information.
Self-Massage (An Mo Gong). By lightly chafing the skin over specific meridians, acupuncture points, organs, muscles, and joints, stagnant qi is dispersed and circulation improves.
The Taoist philosophy of yin/yang balance was an influence on all aspects of Chinese culture, including cuisine, acupuncture, art, poetry, music, and, of course, qigong. Certain qigong methods continue to be closely linked with Taoism, including the Primordial Qigong and Taiji Ruler described above, Qigong Visualization and Meditation described further down this page, and the following:
Snake and Hawk Qigong. Heaven (Hawk) and Earth (Snake) are primary forces in Taoism. The Snake includes slow, spiraling movements that dissolve tension, increase the body’s supply of qi, and sharpen awareness and intuition. Snake Breathing opens the acupuncture meridians and spreads vitality to every cell of the body. The Snake is complemented by dynamic Hawk Flying Methods that imitate the soaring and swooping motions of the hawk. To put it simply, the snake teaches suppleness; the hawk teaches speed and power.
Qigong includes the most extensive and ancient system of healing imagery techniques in the world as well as methods that cultivate “emptiness”– a state of profound peace and quietude in which not a thought nor worry exists. Ken offers training in classic and rare qigong meditation methods, the legacy of Taoist Abbot and Acupuncturist Huang Gengshi and other teachers.
These practices include:
Gathering Energy from Nature: Sun, Moon, Stars, Earth, Sky, Trees
Lesser and Greater Heavenly Circulation: sending qi through meridians, to clear them of obstructions and restore health
Turtle, Crane, and Deer Meditation, to refine Spirit (Shen), Breath (Qi), and Sexual Vitality (Jing)
Inner Nourishing (Nei Yang Gong): combining specific breathing patterns with healing phrases to directly affect health and state of mind
Healing Sound Meditations (Liu Qi Fa) to balance the qi of the internal organs
Taoist Brain Cleansing to chase away mental cobwebs and suffuse the brain with healing light
Taoist Alternate Nostril Breathing, to balance yin and yang energies and clear the central “thrusting” acupuncture channel
Harmonizing Heaven and Human (Tian Ren He Yi) to become like a tree that connects to and unites the energies of sky and earth
Taiji Five Phase Meditation to rid the body of toxic and stagnant qi
Golden Light Meditation to restore the body’s original qi and link with the primal energies of the universe
Awakening the Dragon and Tiger, to stimulate the energies of the abdominal and heart energy centers (dan tian)
Cultivating Stillness (Ru Jing), also called The Fasting of the Mind (Xin Zhai): the mind is refreshed when it occasionally “fasts” from thinking
Embryonic Respiration (Tai Xi): training the breath to become Slow, Long, Deep, Smooth, and Even. As the breathing rate drops, the mind becomes calm and clear.
These meditations are not all taught in any one particular course but rather integrated, as appropriate, into various workshops or classes. In this way, students learn how to balance qi through both meditation and exercise– the yin/yang poles of qigong training.
An External Qi Healer uses gentle touch or non-contact treatment to reach the client’s life energy (qi) and bring it to balance. It is different from western Therapeutic Touch in that it includes a sophisticated method of health assessment and a systematic training for the healer to increase the effectiveness of his or her treatment. External Qi Healing (EQH) is valuable for health-care providers or anyone who wishes to deepen his or her understanding of healing energy and its effect on others.
Scientific research has demonstrated that EQH is not dependent on the client’s belief system or cultural bias; it is effective in vitro and in laboratory animals. Patients treated by EQH have less frequency of recurrence of disease than those treated by acupuncture. Yet, the system is easy for a Westerner to learn as it does not require knowledge of Chinese medicine.
The objectives of this course include:
learn self-healing exercises and meditations. The healer must learn to take care of his/her own health so there will be no danger of either transmitting diseased qi or being depleted when working with the ill
find a core of inner strength. Create appropriate boundaries yet maintain compassion.
open the body/mind to the universal well of healing power in Nature. By tapping a transpersonal source, the healer reaches an unlimited supply of qi.
learn the theory and practice of EQH, including methods of assessment, projecting specific forms of therapeutic qi, and how to integrate EQH into the healing/helping professions.
About the terms "Medical" or "Therapeutic Qigong"
Ken's work has been sponsored by the American Cancer Society, chronic pain clinics, and numerous medical schools, hospitals, and health-care organizations. Therapeutic Qigong courses are designed to teach practical techniques and supportive research that address specific health concerns.
Since the 1950s, it has become popular in China and, recently, in the United States to speak about Medical Qigong 醫功. This term was a political expediency, a re-labeling of longevity and wellness techniques (originally known as yang sheng, 養生 “nurturing life”) to make them more acceptable to Communism and to western medicine. I prefer the term “Healing or Therapeutic Qigong” to “Medical Qigong”, as the goal of qigong is to treat the whole person, to establish energy balance and spiritual harmony rather than to focus on disease (the realm of medicine).
Sports Qigong: Golf Gong anyone? Qigong can dramatically improve performance in any sport. Ken has worked with numerous athletes and coaches on the sports applications of Qigong. One golfer improved his drive by 50 yards after a month of qigong. A tennis pro found a new way to teach hand-eye coordination, weight shifting, and waist flexibility. A qigong football player uses Taiji Quan principles to effortlessly knock down the opposition.
Sexual Qigong: This course provides details about how to achieve personal sexual health through exercise, diet, and ancient practices of circulating and balancing life force with your partner. This is a professional lecture format with plenty of humor and anecdotes.
Business Qigong: Qigong can reduce stress and improve employee health, attitude, social skills, and energy. It means less missed work days and a better bottom line. One of Ken's students, the former owner of one of the largest used car dealerships in the U.S., attributed his success and early retirement to qigong. Employees who practiced qigong had more energy and greater sensitivity to customer needs. Sales went through the roof! Business managers and negotiators can use qigong to stay centered, which means not being manipulated or pressured into poor decisions. At all levels, qigong teaches business people how to take better care of themselves.
Qigong for Seniors: Ken Cohen has taught at various senior centers for many years and finds that seniors’ enthusiasm, dedication, and willingness to question put younger students to shame. There are qigong techniques suitable for athletic seniors as well as for the most physically challenged.
Qigong for Kids: They already know it! If parents practice qigong, they will be more sensitive to their children’s needs. When little people express interest in learning qigong, then they are ready to learn with the big people!
Qigong for the Disabled:The Qigong Research and Practice Center was one of the first centers in the world to offer qigong to the physically challenged. As early as 1973, Ken Cohen was tutoring the blind in Taiji Quan and had developed a method of teaching through gentle touch and detailed description. During the 1980s, students sometimes rolled into class in wheel-chairs and were thankful that they were accepted and encouraged--an illustration of a paraplegic student is included in Ken's book, The Way of Qigong, Ken was instrumental in changing the closed door policy that qigong teachers, in China and abroad, once had towards the handicapped.
Here is Ken with his wonderful grandkids and niece.
Feng Shui: Heaven, Human, and Earth: the trinity of Chinese thought. To understand the heavens, study astronomy and astrology. To understand the human being, study medicine and qigong. To understand the earth, learn feng shui. Feng shui teaches the influence of home design and landscape on health, state of mind, and fortune. Which direction should the main door of a home or business face? Why do people feel depressed or elated in a particular room? How can you sense earth energy and know where to build your home? Feng shui includes practical ways to boost the positive qi in a place or space.
Taoism (also spelled "Daoism"): Taoism, China’s indigenous spiritual tradition, is the foundation of qigong. Created by mountain hermits and sages (the “Immortals”), it emphasizes simplicity, contentment, and unity with nature. In this course, we focus on the Tao Te Ching, the 4th century BCE classic of Taoism, as a guide to meditation and healing. The Tao Te Ching includes advice for both people and society. On a personal level, it has concrete instructions about how to quiet the mind and achieve longevity. On a social level, it speaks about the dangers of selfishness and greed and the importance of community. The original text is filled with layers of meaning, like a fugue with several melodies playing at the same time. Learn the meaning of these different “melodies” and how to go beyond them to the underlying silence of being.
The Yi Jing: Taoist Divination and Prophecy. The Yi Jing (or I Ching), the Classic of Change, written more than 2,000 years ago, is the world’s only spiritual classic devoted to the theme of change itself. After introducing the history and philosophy of the text, we will explore it as a tool for self-understanding and divination. The Yi Jing contains coded instructions in alchemical meditation-- ways of transforming the “fire” and “water” of the body into the “gold” of long life and wisdom. We will practice this interior alchemy. We will also learn how to use the book in conjunction with a simple toss of coins or the observation of omens in nature (Plum Blossom Numerology) to predict likely futures and answer “big questions”: such as those that concern life purpose, relationships, and health. Most importantly, studying the Yi Jing helps us sense the changing river of life and either ride gracefully with the current or gently redirect its flow to create more peace and harmony in our lives.