Staffs are, of course, used by magic-users of a variety of backgrounds and styles. None, however, elevate staff magic to the level of artistry and precision exhibited by practitioners of Qigong, which translates as "Breath Practice." Indeed, many mundane martial arts emphasizing staff fighting are in fact descendents of the motions of Qigong.
Qigong is known to have first been practiced in a form similar to the modern one during the Warring States period. Records from this period are the earliest well-maintained and detailed accounts of the large-scale use of magic in warfare.
Qigong is somewhat unusual in that there is no overarching entity controlling the various individual teachers of the tradition. Each master presides directly over their own school, and most often teaches their students directly as well. Some schools do allow for favored students of the master to become sub-instructors, particularly for relatively simple lessons, but this is uncommon. Masters do meet occasionally in regional or even international conferences to discuss and trade ideas, but such meetings are entirely voluntary and for the benefit of those involved. Non-attendance may be frowned upon by those who organize such meetings, but it is not (indeed, could not be) punished in any way.
In times of war, practitioners of Qigong are, naturally, in high demand. The master of a school may negotiate with multiple factions as he or she pleases, or simply commit the school to the nation or religious cause he or she personally feels sympathy with. Students follow the will of their master, joining the war on whichever side has been chosen for the school as a whole. Defection or abstention are punished swiftly and harshly, making it difficult for a Qigong practitioner to maintain any loyalties to a nation, organization, or even religion other than the school itself.
Qigong remains the dominant Tactician tradition in China, as well as much of Southeast Asia.
Unsurprisingly, it has also gradually spread into Russia, beginning with general exchange between the two regions via Manchuria and slowly moving west. In the modern era, the Soviet Union has consolidated all of its Qigong schools into a single organization, the Soviet People’s Magical Defense Union, under Trotsky.
Italian explorers brought word of Qigong back to Italy in the Middle Ages, and by the end of the Renaissance, the magical style had become established in Rome and spread from there.
An offshoot of the school appeared in Japan over a millenium ago, and has maintained a presence to the modern day, although it admits no ties or official links to Qigong at large. The staff motions present in the style at large have been adapted to motions of an ink brush, and Japanese Qigong manifests as calligraphy magic.
While seemingly unorganized, rumors of lone Qigong practitioners wandering the western portions of the former United States have seemed to multiply with time, usually involving some elements of righting wrongs and esoteric wisdom passed on to the locals before leaving town for parts unknown. Texas is rumored to be working to organize or lure a Qigong school within its borders, but the success of any such efforts are as yet unknown.
Relations to Other TraditionsEdit
Due to the lack of a centralized organization, Qigong has no particularly consistent relationships with other schools. The more academic traditions of the Banisterites, the Collegium, and al Mushtamir tend to look down on the "vulgar" practicality of Qigong practitioners, while the Sentinels envy their combat abilities (and indeed, on a rare few occasions, have hired Qigong trainers for their own mages).