Qigong is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that can be traced back to its earliest origins in the little understood Mawangdui Silk Texts on medicine and philosophy produced in 168 BC. It is therefore an ancient practice in what has come to be termed "alternative medicine." To become a Qigong healer involves study in the history of Qigong and its practices over an extended and indeterminate period of time. Several certification programs also exist in the US, China, and elsewhere to become a Qigong healer, with titles such as Qiqong Healer or Clinical Qiqong Practitioner.
The process to become a Qigong healer in the United States is based upon established practices at traditional Qigong centers, such as the Medical Qigong College and Xi Yuan Medical Qigong Hospital in Beijing, China. Stages toward certification can vary based on individual programs. One such program offers certification first as a Medical Qigong Practitioner that takes 200 hours to complete, Medical Qigong Therapist after an additional 500 hours, then Master of Medical Qigong after 1,000 hours of study. Over the course of centuries, Qigong practices have spread to and been incorporated into the Hindu culture, various martial arts practices and more, making modern-day training a versatile art.
Since Qigong has ancient origins in Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist philosophies, steps to become a Qigong healer can follow many paths. One 12-step program that runs for 500 hours and results in a Qigong Healer certification with the National Qigong Association (NQA) in Missouri, US, starts with acupuncture and Jing Dong Gong, or traditional Stillness-Movement-Qigong training. Another program to become a Qigong healer certifies students first as Enthusiastic Citizens, then Tai Chi Easy Practice Leaders, Community Qigong Practice Leaders, Integral Qigong and Tai Chi Teachers, and finally Medical Qigong Practitioners over the course of hundreds hours of training.
The Chinese Health Qigong Association officially recognized four broad, yet distinct, processes of Qigong exercises, breathing, and other meditative practices in 2003, named Yi Jin Jing, Wu Qin Xi, Liu Zi Jue, and Ba Duan Jin. Nevertheless, mastery of Qigong, like most ancient medicine, martial arts, and eastern philosophies, is open to interpretation. For anyone wishing to become a Qigong healer, the first step might be finding a training program that suits one's interests and that is widely recognized as being authoritative. Mastering the art of Qigong, either alone or with guidance from masters, can take years, and begin a journey of discovery that one continues on his or her entire life.