Over a period of some three or four thousand years it has been progressively refined and technically adapted by practitioners who learned from experience and acquired the art in conjunction with other
techniques of conquering disease. In ancient times it was know as Dao Yin (which could be roughly translated as gymnastics), Tu Na (breath control) and Yang Sheng (body building).

Qigong has a long history of association with religious life in China, and the tradition suffered parallel divisions. On the medical side, several distinct schools arose – Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian and Wu Shu, along with a good many local styles stressing different technical variants etc. All these styles are also found among China’s minority peoples, and it has often been through these practitioners that Qigong methods and traditions have become established abroad,
especially for instance in Japan. But most recently, it is in the countries of the West that Qigong has acquired significant influence.