Stop licensure of Qigong: Oppose Oklahoma Senate Bill 190

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The ancient Chinese art of Qigong is under threat by a new law, SB 190 “the Oklahoma Qigong Practice Act,” which, if ratified, would require licensure or certification and uniform standards of teaching and practice for qigong schools and practitioners. The provisions of the law also include the establishment of “The Oklahoma [Licensing] Board of Qigong,” continuing education requirements, and grounds for criminal misdemeanor penalties and fines. The law implies U.S. acceptance of Communist definitions of qigong, medical qigong, and “qi emission.” Among the provisions, it states that “No unlicensed person shall: 1. Hold himself or herself out as a qigong teacher, clinical qigong practitioner…”

Qigong refers to China’s ancient tradition of healing and spiritual postures, exercises, breathing techniques, and meditations designed to balance the body’s life energy (qi) and restore connection with the cosmos. The term “Qigong” is a post-Communist (1949) term for what was originally called yang sheng (nurturing life) or dao yin (leading and guiding the qi). For virtually all of its 3,000-year history, it has been an essential aspect of China’s indigenous religion of Daoism, though also practiced by Chinese Buddhists, Chinese Muslims, and others for physical and spiritual development. The majority of qigong literature, including the classics on qi emission (bu qi) are found in the Daoist Canon. Qigong is also an essential part of strength, conditioning, and coordination training in the Chinese martial arts. It easily qualifies under UNESCO’s definition of an intangible cultural heritage.

There are many things wrong with the proposed Oklahoma SB 190.

1.     Most egregious is that it violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing freedom of religion and equal protection under the law. Shall we next regulate and license Christians who pray for people with cancer; does this make prayer a medical discipline? It is a slippery slope from regulating qigong to state control over other spiritual, energy healing (for example Reiki), and physical disciplines.

2.     Qigong is safe, and thus, government oversight is not required to ensure public safety. Qigong is far less dangerous than taking a walk. Interestingly, the very rare adverse effects are almost entirely framed in religious terms, the most famous being “Qigong Demonic Possession” (Zou Huo Ru Mo).

3.     The NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health categorizes qigong as a “Mind and Body Practice.” Many other practices in this category have, like Qigong, their own professional organizations and standards and do not require government regulation, including Yoga, Feldenkrais method, Pilates, Tai Chi, and Guided Imagery.

4.     No licensing board can set standards or assess competence for the thousands of qigong styles, each with unique lineages, methods, and methods of transmission, including, but not limited to “discipleship ceremonies”.

5.     The proposed law violates long established cultural protocols, including the importance of intuition and integrity (de) in assessing student or client suitability and the use of barter and sliding scales (generally prohibited in fee setting procedures among licensed health care providers).

6.     Official re-branding and licensing of qigong as a clinical or medical discipline severely limits the understanding and scope of practice of qigong teachers and healers to inappropriate categories of distress provided by either Western or Traditional Chinese Medicine.

7.     In addition to the points mentioned above, the fictitious category of “medical qigong” would likely erode the quality of care now offered by qigong teachers and healers. Qigong practitioners would be forced to accept insurance and resulting decreased per-hour compensation, purchase malpractice insurance, and reduce client contact time to comply with insurance and/or Board standards.    

The Bill will be introduced in the Oklahoma State Senate by Senator Dave Rader (R) in early February, 2019 with an effective date of November 1, 2019.

Solution: Oppose Oklahoma State Bill 190 and protect the people’s right to practice and access Qigong and other safe methods of spiritual and energy healing. Please sign and share this petition!


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