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BUQI: An introduction to a new Chinese healing system

by Dr Shen Hongxun(more info)

listed in chi energy martial arts, originally published in issue 14 - August 1996


Buqi is an old Chinese word – to indicate healing – during the Han dynasty. In historic books one can find records about people curing diseases without touching but nowhere is there any description of the techniques they used. Over a long period of time this knowledge was almost lost and only a few people still had a superficial knowledge of it. The people who still knew something kept it a secret and taught it only to family members. As a youngster, I was very lucky to get in touch with some of this knowledge via my grandfather, Shen Baotai and Professor Yao Huanzhi. But at that time I did not know that later on it would become my profession.

Dr Shen Hongxun gives a Buqi treatment

Dr Shen Hongxun gives a Buqi treatment

After my university studies I was put in charge of a hospital in Xinjiang. Thirty-three years ago, this region in the north-west of China was poor and there were not enough medicines available. In that situation, how was it possible to help patients? The declaration of Mao Tse Tung that one had to ‘combine eastern and western medicine’ stimulated me to employ other types of therapy, so I also began to try to use what I knew of this kind of secret knowledge in the hospital and with good results. Because this way of treating patients did not involve operations, injections, needles or medicines, patients were very happy. However, at that moment my knowledge was still very basic. Little by little it increased during my clinical practice.

An important breakthrough in my work with Buqi was in 1979 when the Shanghai Institute of gerontology invited me to teach and develop qigong. I later worked as chief qigong doctor in the qigong department in the Eryang Diduan hospital and the Shanghai qigong clinic. I discovered a lot of new knowledge by practising Buqi and created a new Buqi system. This system has its own Qi-aetiology, Qi-diagnosis and Buqi hand techniques for treatment. It also contains several new therapies such as the finger vibration therapy, daoyin therapy, etc.

Over all these years I used Buqi for different kinds of diseases in the field of internal medicine, gynaecology, paediatrics and ophthalmology, which was welcomed by the patients.  In 1983 I described Buqi for the first time in my book ‘qigong abnormal reactions and the corresponding treatment techniques’ or “Qigong Yichang Fanying Jiqi Chuli” and in some other articles. I started to teach Buqi in 1991 in Belgium and Holland. During the last five years there have been courses in these countries and in England, Norway and New York. Along with teaching the courses and from the feedback of students practising Buqi, this young knowledge is still developing.

In the new Buqi system, the theory of the double vicious circle and the binqi theory are the theoretical foundation. Information transmission, self healing exercises and other therapies are used to treat people.

The double vicious circle and the binqi theory: the theoretical foundation of Buqi.

In the field of qigong people often think that Qi is energy and that disease is the result of not having enough Qi. Then the main objective becomes how to receive more Qi. This idea is still widespread, even nowadays. This basic idea is wrong. First of all one has to know that there is a difference between healthy Qi and binqi (sick Qi). It is the accumulation of binqi, a long lasting poor body position and mental stress that are the major causes of disease.

binqi theory

The binqi theory

Bin means ill, in this context Qi means unknown factor. Therefore, binqi refers to unknown factors of illness. Nowadays we translate binqi by pathogenic factors because binqi covers the poisonous excretory products of metabolism and other biochemicals and chemical mediators of the nervous system that accumulate in a certain area of the body.

We often can find that something is accumulated in certain areas of the patient’s body (an organ, tissue or meridian). It makes people feel pain, stiff, itchy, cold or have other symptoms. During a Buqi treatment, Buqi exercises, receiving tuina or acupuncture, patients often can have what we like to call a ‘pain moving reaction’. They feel that pain is moving in the limbs or even that it leaves the body via the hands and the feet. This ‘pain’ can have different qualities: gas-like, cold, hot, itchy. All these kind of sensations reflect the movement of binqi in and out of the body.

If the patient feels that binqi is moving to the hands or the feet the symptoms of this patient might immediately change. If the patient feels binqi leave the body the symptoms can be completely finished. Even organ diseases can change because this binqi is moving. Some sensitive patients can feel how during the treatment binqi leaves the organs and is transported via the mai and its branches to the fingertips and the toes. If binqi is concentrated around vertebrae, it will weaken the nucleus of the intervertebral  disc because of an insufficient supply of oxygen, etc. Therefore making binqi leave the body is very important.

Binqi, however, is a natural phenomenon within the body which, in a good sleeping position, is expelled during deep sleep by the pressure created on exhalation. For during a deep sleep, the time of breathing out is three times as long as the time of breathing in. During the day one can never have the same effect because of a changing breathing pattern. A long lasting poor body posture will make binqi accumulate in certain areas of the body. This will make it necessary to do exercises or to receive healing as prevention and cure for health problems.

The double vicious circle

During my clinical practice, I discovered that the major cause of disease is a poor body position. I called the link between a long lasting poor body posture, a pathogenic narrowing of intervertebral space(s), the accumulation of binqi and diseases, ‘the vicious circle of the body posture’. Different diseases correspond with different narrowing of intervertebral spaces in the spinal column.

Not only the body posture but also emotional and psychological factors play a very important role in the origin of diseases. There is a link between the latter and diseases through the nervous system and its chemical mediators. We call it ‘the vicious circle of mental stress’.

We also cannot exclude food, the weather and the environment being a factor for diseases.

Taiji forces, the healing forces in Buqi

Taijijin or, literally translated, Taiji forces is about special forces of the human body. These special forces differ from muscular power. From a scientific point of view we can distinguish four different categories of taiji forces: physical force, energy force, mental force and spiritual force.

In ancient times, an advanced taijiquan master would use these four different taijijin for fighting. Today these same four forces are used in Buqi, not for fighting but for healing. However, when these forces are used in Buqi they must be applied much more gently. The forces most frequently used in Buqi are energy force and mental force, because the practitioner most often works at a distance, without actually touching the patient.

The energy forces, most frequently used in Buqi, are vibration force and spontaneous movement force.

With a strong vibration force, the hands may emit up to 600 vibrations per minute. During a Buqi treatment, the practitioner creates a vibration force in his or her hands and combines it with mental force to stimulate the vibration force in specific parts of the patient’s body. We believe that the vibration force stems from the motive force of the cells. Each cell has its motivity; all cells vibrate constantly, but the direction of their vibration force is not identical. In fact, they counteract each other. The ability to align the motive force of the cells in a given part of the body in one direction forms the basis for creating vibration force for healing.

For Buqi healers it is essential that they exercise to develop the ability to focus their vibration force so that, by combining it with mental force, they are able to transmit vibration information to the body of the patient and improve cellular vibration force in specific parts of the patient’s body.

Spontaneous movement can regulate the balance in the body, the mind and between body and mind. Practising it can create reactions involving the respiration, internal force movements, and body movements. It can also create emotional reactions, and reactions upon the release of binqi from the body. Spontaneous movement in particular can benefit patients suffering from hemiplegia by restoring movement. It can help people who are prey to stress by quietening the mind. And it can create a sense of well-being as spontaneous movement helps to liberate blocked emotions.

During the Buqi healing, the patient may receive spontaneous movement by doing exercises himself or by receiving mental information transmitted by a high level practitioner. A Buqi healer must exercise so he or she can regulate and control the transmission of spontaneous movement information to the body of the patient.

Mental force

Buqi focuses on the transmission of mental information to create given effects in the patient’s body - regulating the physiological functioning of the body, creating emotional changes, and moving and expelling binqi. Because mental information functions as a kind of force, we call it mental force.

During Buqi treatment the practitioner can create and transmit different kinds of information e.g. warmth, movement of internal force, shifting of pain, the information to stretch the body, vibration information, spontaneous movement information, etc.

As a result the patient may then feel warmth or heat or may experience something moving into or out of the body, or pain shifting and leaving the body through the hands or feet, or have the sensation of the spinal column stretching more and more and the body becoming taller. Patients may begin to vibrate or have spontaneous movements etc.

Buqi hand techniques

Students exercising a Buqi hand technique
Students exercising a Buqi hand technique

There are more than 40 different kinds of Buqi hand techniques that fall under two categories: bu or xie techniques. In Buqi most of the techniques are xie techniques because of the importance of expelling binqi.

The function of a bu technique is to give, to activate. This technique is used to activate the nervous system, the hormonal system and the blood circulation. A bu technique can also directly activate the organs.

The function of a xie technique is to bring binqi and negative emotions out of the body. It is also used to restrain the nervous system and to quieten the mind.

Becoming a Buqi healer

During a Buqi course one learns different exercises to develop the different taiji forces needed for healing. The practise of these exercises first of all helps to heal oneself so that one will be able to transmit health information to the patient. At the same time one studies the basic theory of Buqi, Buqi-diagnosis techniques, Buqi hand techniques and Buqi daoyin exercises. Afterwards one can use the theory in combination with the taiji forces to heal patients. A Buqi healer can never forget the importance of exercises for healing oneself for it is important to expel binqi continuously to purify one’s information more and more. 

Dr Shen Hongxun demonstrates a self-healing exercise for Buqi Healers
Dr Shen Hongxun demonstrates a self-healing
exercise for Buqi Healers

Every year the International BUQI Institute organises Buqi courses in different countries: Holland, Belgium, Norway and England. Courses run over two years, part-time, with eight weekends and three 6-day residential seminars.

For information about Buqi Therpist Training, which runs over two years part-time, as well as for Taijiwuxigong self-healing seminars, please contact: Shen Hongxun College, 35 Kensal Road, Bristol BS3 4QU, Tel : 0117 377 0103


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About Dr Shen Hongxun

Dr Shen Hongxun (Shanghai, 1939) has been practising taijiquan for over 50 years. He is also trained as a physician in Chinese and Western medicine.

Dr Shen Hongxun is the founder of TianShan (Heaven Mountain) style taijiquan, Buqi (Chinese healing with vital forces) and Taijiwuxigong (self-healing through spontaneous movement). In 1987 the Universities of Gent and Venice both invited Dr. Shen to supervise Ph.D. students. Later he founded the Buqi Institute, Belgium and Shen Hongxun College, London. He has since been teaching in Europe and the USA .

Their website is at


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