I am always broken-hearted to hear of the death of any kung-fu master, so I was very sorry to hear that Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang passed away a few weeks ago. My condolences go out to his students and his family.
When great masters die, I check to see how long they have lived. Usually, it isn't a lot longer than the general population.
Grandmaster Feng was 83 or 84 - he was born in 1928.
And now comes the part of the post that some may find controversial but it is intended to carry the utmost respect for Grandmaster Feng.
He was a disciple of Hu Yaozhen, a Taoist qigong master. Grandmaster Feng studied with him and also with the great Taiji master Chen Fake. Feng eventually developed his own style of Chen Taiji that included qigong, silk-reeling exercises, etc.
I receive messages and scoldings occasionally from people who claim that qigong, and Taoist qigong, if done properly, will mean you will evade illness and disease, and will result in a very long life. I received some of these messages after I developed atrial fibrillation, and a surgical procedure resulted in the closing of my pulmonary veins. Basically, I lost the function of my left lung three years ago.
A few well-intentioned but moronic messages were sent to me advising me -- in all seriousness -- that this wouldn't have happened if I had been doing qigong properly.
So here is the main point of my post:
My wife's mother lived to age 96. She never did a minute of qigong in her life. My step-mom is 84 and never did a moment of qigong in her life -- and rarely even exercised. My father-in-law lived to be 94 and I never heard that he exercised for a moment in his life -- and would have thought qigong was ridiculous.
Feng Zhiqiang lived to 84 and practiced Taoist qigong. As it turns out, his master, Hu Yaozhen -- the Taoist qigong master -- passed away at age 76. Chen Fake died at age 70.
There is nothing magical or mystical about qigong -- even Taoist qigong. It will not make you live longer than the general population. It might help the quality of life while you are here -- it might help you calm yourself, find your center and maintain it in moments of crisis. For that, it's very helpful.
But make no mistake -- qigong and Tai Chi will not help you achieve immortality, and it will not prevent you from developing cancer, heart disease, or a host of other illnesses. Please stop pretending -- or spreading false information -- that Tai Chi and qigong somehow make you live longer than other people. There is absolutely no medical or legitimate scientific research that shows that this is true.
Death finds us all. And from what I've seen, it takes Tai Chi masters and qigong masters along with the rest of us, with no discrimination.
Let's stop the fantasy -- and call people out who encourage that fantasy.