Mona Vale NSW 2103
Servicing area: Face to Face Classes: Northern Beaches including Avalon, Mona Vale, St Ives, Turramurra
Find out more about Qigong & Tai Chi, and learn how it can change your life for the better.
Tai Chi & Qigong: The Basics & Fundamentals
What is Tai chi?
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.
Tai chi vs Qigong
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!
The Four Main Reasons People Practice Tai chi & Qigong
- Health and wellbeing: The two things you rely on most in this life is your mind and your body. Your mind needs to be sound and clear to make good decisions and a body free of tension, pain and injury allows you to live your life with more ease and satisfaction. This also means that the body is getting clearer and more effective instruction from the mind and one can enjoy higher energy levels directly as a result of Tai chi and Qigong practice as well as a result of the mind and body being freed from unnecessary burdens.
- Healing: Oftentimes, unfortunately, people seek to nurture their health once health has already broken down and illnesses have manifested. Even so, it is never too late to start practice and start building up your health. The healing path is more difficult and requires more dedication than if you simply wish to boost your health and wellbeing. One of the key aspects that Tai chi and Qigong are effective at is PREVENTION. Tai chi and Qigong are beautifully designed and effective life tools to maintain one’s health and develop a deep sensitivity of one’s internal state. Qigong and Tai chi practice will boost your health and the sensitivity that you develop as a result will help you to make better choices in your daily life in order to maintain yourself in a good state.
- Spirituality: Any practice or undertaking requires a certain depth of ‘spirituality’ whereby one looks inside, finds out what is important and what is not and decides how they want to move forward and shape themselves through their actions. Spirituality itself is the direct study of the deep internal aspects what it is to be human and to be alive. Tai chi and Qigong practice gives one the opportunity to look deep inside and expand one’s understanding of life both on the inside and on the outside. Oftentimes a person’s behaviour significantly changes if they have undergone spiritual changes.
- Martial Arts Results: Qigong teaches one how to work with energy and optimise it for health. Tai chi takes this a step further and using the mechanisms and principles learned from Qigong practice, the Tai chi practitioner can further structure and strengthen the body for more health benefits or ultimately to develop fast and powerful self-defence movements. For this reason, Qigong is a good foundation for Tai chi practice and the first stage of Tai chi practice itself is designed for developing a stable and strong foundation of health that one can move forward from for martial arts results.
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