Li Ching-Yuen (simplified Chinese: 李清云; traditional Chinese: 李清雲) (1677 or 1736 – 6 May 1933) was a Chinese herbalist, martial artist and tactical advisor, known for his supposed extreme longevity. He claimed to have been born in 1736, while disputed records suggest 1677, implying an age at death of 197 or 256 years. Li Ching-Yuen spent most of his life in the mountains and was skilled in Qigong. He worked as an herbalist, selling lingzhi, goji berry, wild ginseng, he shou wu and gotu kola along with other Chinese herbs, and lived off a diet of these herbs and rice wine. He died from natural causes on 6 May 1933 in Kai Xian, Sichuan, China and was survived by his 24th wife, a woman of 60 years. Li supposedly produced over 200 descendants during his life span, surviving 23 wives.
After his death, General Yang Sen wrote a report about him, A Factual Account of the 250 Year-Old Good-Luck Man (一个250岁长寿老人的真实记载), in which he described Li's appearance: "He has good eyesight and a brisk stride; Li stands seven feet tall, has very long fingernails, and a ruddy complexion." General Yang became his disciple, practicing his teaching until the end of his life. In 1927 he invited him to his residence in Wanxian, Sichuan. The Tai Chi Chuan Master T. T. Liang (Liang Tung Tsai) learned from General Yang the practice of the "Eight Brocade Qigong". His student Stuart Alve Olson wrote in 2002 the book "Qigong Teachings of a Taoist Immortal: The Eight Essential Exercises of Master Li Ching-Yun", taking General Yang's report as reference. Some praticants of Jiulong Baguazhang, also known as Nine Dragon Eight Diagram Palm, claims that it was conceived by Li Ching-Yuen.
Whereas Li Ching-Yuen himself claimed to have been born in 1736, Wu Chung-chieh, a professor of the Chengdu University, asserted that Li was born in 1677; according to a 1930 New York Times article, Wu discovered Imperial Chinese government records from 1827 congratulating Li on his 150th birthday, and further documents later congratulating him on his 200th birthday in 1877. However, gerontological researchers have viewed the age claim with extreme skepticism; the frequency of invalid age claims increases with the claimed age, rising from 65% of claims to ages 110–111 being invalid, to 98% of claims to being 115, with a 100% rate for claims of 120+ years.
One of Li's disciples, the Taijiquan Master Da Liu, told of his master's story: when 130 years old Master Li encountered in the mountains an older hermit, over 500 years old, who taught him Baguazhang and a set of Qigong with breathing instructions, movements training coordinated with specific sounds, and dietary recommendations. Da Liu reports that his master said that his longevity "is due to the fact that he performed the exercises every day – regularly, correctly, and with sincerity – for 120 years."
The Taoist Master Liu Pai Lin (劉百齡), who lived in São Paulo, Brazil from 1975 until 2000, had in his classroom another photograph of Master Li Ching Yuen unknown to the West. In this photo his face is clearly visible, as are his long and curled fingernails. Master Liu had met him personally in China, and considered him as one of his Masters. He used to say that Master Li answered to him that the fundamental taoist practice is to learn to keep the “Emptiness” (Wuji). Master Liu’s son, Master Liu Chih Ming, teaches the 12 Silks Qigong in CEMETRAC, as transmitted by Master Li.
The article "Tortoise-Pigeon-Dog", from the 15 May 1933 issue of Time reports on his history, and includes Li's answer to the secret of a long life:
Following from "The Legend of Li Qingyun Meets Scientific Life Span Experiments":