Find out more about Qigong & Tai Chi, and learn how it can change your life for the better.
As surprising as it may sound, Tai chi is a Martial Art and it can be learned to obtain real, practical Self-Defence skills. The important thing to point out though is that Tai chi is quite expansive and versatile and most often it is taught and learned as a system for developing a healthy and strong body and clear and sharp mind.
The first and most important stage of Tai chi practice is to build one’s health. Then, later if one wishes to move in that direction, one can choose to develop martial arts results or simply continue to cultivate health. Both paths are equally valid in their own right.
The reason that tai chi is slow and soft is because the slow and soft movements teach one how to relax the body and mind, shed tension, develop coordination, learn how to move well and many, many other health benefits. Surprisingly, the slow and soft mechanism over a long time of dedicated practice starts to lead to fast and powerful body movements. By the time a practitioner reaches this point, this mechanism is not surprising at all and it becomes quite obvious that to develop power one needs to first learn how to shed body tension and move softly. Tai chi results can only be achieved by applying the correct internal principles during practice and this relates directly to the application of one’s mind and intent as an essential component of the moments during Tai chi practice. Tai chi isn't so much about the movements as it is about the principles. Without learning the internal principles Tai chi practice becomes a meaningless dance of empty movements.
If you observe a tai chi practitioner performing the tai chi form you can see that the martial arts roots become quite evident because of the nature of the movements. The form is like a ‘dance’ which showcases the key aspects of the particular tai chi style as related to the martial and technical aspects.
Both Tai chi and Qigong look and are very similar in various ways. Both Arts are based on the same fundamental mechanisms but there are some key differences to consider in understanding each art and in deciding which one you would like to take up.
Qigong is designed to teach the practitioner how to move their body in such a way that optimises health and wellbeing. The underlying mechanism behind this is relaxation. By learning how to deeply relax through movement, the body can enter into a state of healing resulting in increased energy levels, health and wellbeing. They to understanding how Qigong works is that it optimises the flow of Qi in the body which is fundamental for all of the body’s functions.
Tai chi utilises the principles required for good Qigong practice (relaxation) and based on this as a the foundation, teaches the practitioner further principles that need to be applied when doing the movements. The movements themselves represent (and are) based on self-defence and the structuring of the body and energy system. You could say that tai chi is Qigong with a ‘Martial Edge’ but this depends on the path you wish take with tai chi practice as described earlier in this article. In general, tai chi requires more strict form and structure than Qigong. Again, this is emblematic of its martial roots. Not to mention, Qi flow in tai chi is optimised for structure, generation of fast, powerful movements and self-defence, not just for health benefits such as in Qigong.
To summarise, both tai chi and qigong provide similar benefits with a different emphasis depending on your goals or areas of focus. In general, the best thing you can do is to start with Qigong practice and then move onto Tai chi and even better, if you learn them both together!
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