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‘Negativity dissolves’

Li Jun Feng – a tough, taught and competitive man – was the head coach of the Chinese national martial arts team until he discovered a new discipline called shen zhen qigong.

Qigong is akin to traditional forms of tai chi that people use for flexibility, strength and balance, but Feng takes it to a spiritual level to remove negative influences and strengthen the soul.

He’s been doing it all over the world since 1996 and is in Nevada City this week at the Veterans Memorial Building, teaching about 50 others to be shen zhen qigong instructors.

“After I learned qigong, it made me understand life and transformed my mission from martial arts,” Feng said Wednesday during a break in the class. “I’ve already been to 26 countries.”

The discipline is based on three functions: The body, emotions and the heart, Feng said. The tai-chi-type movements are used to make the body healthier “and you have more energy to work,” Feng said.

The second function for emotion is used to cut the everyday stress of life.

“They become a happy person or much happier than before,” Feng said.

The third function “opens the heart and purifies it with unconditional love for everything and love for others,” he said.

Liz Ely, of Nevada County is a teacher of qigong and put together the conference that has drawn people from other states, as well as Norway, Germany, England and Canada. She also is joining the class to sharpen her skills.

“It’s simpler than tai chi,” Ely said. “Rhythm, symmetry and slowness are the important things. You rock and rock, and the negativity dissolves and you’re happy. You look outside yourself, and you’re not so self-absorbed.”

Former prison warden Jan Polin, of Sacramento, also was at the session and said she was learning to take the discipline to another level.

“I learned qigong in 1976 and it was nice, but I never got as much out of it,” Polin said. “This talks about the messages of the movement.”

Jim Butcher, director of the Phillips School of Massage in Nevada City, also was learning.

“Just knowing that you can take care of yourself through simple exercise is very empowering,” Butcher said. “It makes me more aware of being present in my body.”

Class attendee Frank Sommerfeld came from Berlin to find out more about qigong after learning it six years ago.

“I wanted to go deeper into the understanding and the feelings side of qigong, not just do the (exercises),” Sommerfeld said.

To learn more about qigong and Feng’s message, a free lecture and demonstration will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Nevada City Veterans Memorial Building next to the Nevada Courthouse.

It will be followed by a free instructional class from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday morning.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.

What: Sheng zhen qigong movement free lecture and demonstration and free instruction class

When: Lecture and demonstration at 7:30 p.m., Friday; free class from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday

Where: Nevada City Veterans Memorial Building, 415 N. Pine St.