You may be wondering what are the differences and similarities when it comes to the art of Qigong and Tai Chi. Here is a simplistic break down to help answer this question. Let's start from the beginning.
Qigong can be thought of as the mother, the maker of Tai Chi. It is a gentle ancient Chinese medicine practice that is over 4000 years old. This first Chinese fitness practice is enjoyed for a wide variety of reasons designed as preventative as well as improving ones overall wellbeing physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. There are 5 branches of Chinese medicine: Acupuncture, Massage, Herbs, Nutrition and Qigong.
Qi means life force energy and Gong means to work with /develop a skill.
There are 3 separate categories that Qigong falls into.
1) Medical - how to work with the energy for health, wellness and vitality
2) Spiritual - feel connection to the Divine and to Self, for enlightenment, a meditative practice
3) Martial Arts - work with energy to develop a powerful body
This third branch, Martial Arts, is where Tai Chi comes into place. Each move is a Martial Arts expression that can be trained as a strike or a block. One move goes into another and you need to learn a whole sequence of movements. For example, there is the 108 style and the 64 movement style. There are 5 primary forms/styles in Tai Chi where there are 3000 ways to practice Qigong.
Tai Chi is one particular style of Qigong, the Martial Arts style, originating from the Chen family in the 1670's in the Henan province of China. The Chen family would practice and develop their style becoming masters. After many years, while doing so a servant of theirs named Yang would watch, take notes and learn from the masters. Yang developed a high skill of his own and shared with his family so this is how the Chen and the Yang styles were created. The Yang family lineage became so good and famous for their skill that the Chinese Emperor and Royal Guard learned the short Yang style of Tai Chi which became popularized.
I want to now bring these two arts together to help understand their similarities and their unique principles. Both movement practices are mindful and slow having the intention to develop and cultivate energy for health, vitality and feel a deep connection to internal power. They are wonderful for stress management. Also, they are considered internal art forms as movements come from the center, they are water-like and ignite energy from within.
Are you asking yourself, which should you try first? I would recommend Qigong first. It is simpler, very accessible, you learn how to move with your energy and you learn principles such as, how to move with a water like softness and how to move with relaxation. When you are comfortable, you can feel and use these same principles as you practice the Tai Chi form because you will need to memorize different longer sequences as one move goes into the next.
In Qigong there is breath work, a warm up / activation, balance, stretch, flow, and meditation. It is considered a 'moving meditation'. Movements are flow like, repeat several times to help activate the Qi and are easy to practice. For example the movement 'Parting Horses Mane' will repeat several times where in Tai Chi you perform this in a walking set as you move the energy. This is more difficult. So, first learn Qigong and the principles, then move into Tai Chi with the application of those principles.
If you are interested in how to transform stress into vitality, how to use energy to cultivate health, wellbeing and longevity, please feel free to reach out. There are virtual classes available for groups, corporate and private sessions. Stay tuned as new group Zoom classes will be added in the fall.
Begin your journey of igniting your life force energy and feel empowered as you take charge of your own health and vitality.
Love & Light, Namaste
Certified Qigong Teacher, Certified Holistic Wellness Coach, RHC HCA, Certified Yoga/Pilates/Meditation Teacher
Yoga First and Wellness