What is the difference between Qigong vs Tai chi? Which one should I choose? There are differences and similarities between Tai Chi and Qigong. Although there are many, we will try to review these two questions thoroughly.
NOTE: The “chi” of tai chi comes from “jí” and means the highest point, peak, extreme… The “Q” of Qigong comes from “qì” and means vital energy. Therefore, it must be clear that both “chi” are different and have nothing to do with each other.
What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi (Tàijí Quán, 太极拳) can be translated as “the art of the supreme fist,” “supreme peak boxing” or even “shadow boxing.”
The origin of Taichi goes back to the Taoist monk Zhang Sanfeng (XIII century), and historical data state that it was developed in Chenjiagou (Chen village) by the general Chen Wanting (XVII century).
Therefore, Tai Chi is not an ancient art and has approximately 300-800 years of antiquity.
Tai Chi is a martial art that can also be applied internally depending on how it is practiced. The movements must be elegant and harmonious, using the minimum tension necessary, in combination with breathing and intention.
Taichi is a mixture of defensive martial art, Taoist philosophy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, the 64 hexagrams of the Yijing (I-Ching), and the cultivation of Daoyin energy.
It is generally spoken of five familiar styles of Tai Chi: Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu, and Sun. However, there are many other styles derived from these.
In Chinese martial arts, the styles usually have the surname of their founder (Chen, Yang …), its place of origin (Wudang, Shaolin …), or a characteristic of the style (Huley).
Taichi is practiced through forms or Katas, consisting of smooth and harmonious movements performed with vital energy and without overdoing it with muscular strength. Watch this video example…
Each Kata has hidden martial applications in each action, coordinated with breathing. Although divided into several movements, each of these forms should be executed from beginning to end as if it were a single movement, without making any stop, in a fluid and continuous way.
You can practice Tai Chi alone or work with partners through Tuishou or push hands. But it is always practiced standing using different forces (Peng, Lu, Ji, An, Cái, Lie, Zhou, Kao, …), present in the forms.
11 GOOD reasons to practice Tai Chi
1. Improves muscle strength
Although it may not seem like it, the slow movements of tai chi help improve muscle strength like weight training.
2. Provides vital energy
In tai chi, energy is referred to as “Qi” or “Chi,” as it is called philosophical Taoism. According to this discipline and traditional Chinese medicine, the energy must flow through the body freely and do so through the correct pathways.
The slow, gentle movements of tai chi are designed to unblock Qi and activate that energy flow.
When this happens, greater well-being is achieved in the muscles, respiratory system, circulatory system, etc. In this way, the body is strengthened against disease.
3. The upper and lower extremities are strengthened
The practice of tai chi is done standing. The arms are used to perform movements that gradually go from simple to complex.
These movements work the joints, which strengthens, oxygenates, and tones them. It also prevents the loss of muscle mass, which increases its decline after the age of 40.
4. Improves the functioning of the cardiovascular and respiratory systems
The gentle and progressive movements of tai chi strengthen cardio capacity and respiratory systems. This discipline combines dynamic movements with pauses, which helps to lower the heart rate while increasing circulation.
By basing these movements on breathing, this discipline’s practice increases respiratory capacity, which oxygenates the brain.
5. Prevents illness and falls and strengthens joints
The tai chi movements work the hips, ankles, knees, and hands, making them stronger and more flexible.
Progressively, strength is used, and broad body movements are performed. Combining these reduces the risk of falls and injuries since the body is toned and balance is improved.
6. Relieves insomnia, migraines and muscle aches and pains
Muscle contractures come from bad movements, accumulated tensions, and inadequate postures.
The postures adopted in tai chi practice allow better positions to be adopted in daily life, in addition to relaxing the muscles, which reduces migraines and other pains.
It is also good to note that the physical and mental balance provided by this ancient art practice helps alleviate insomnia, as anxiety brings sleep problems and is channeled, effectively allowing rest.
7. Improves brain oxygenation and memory
Breathing exercises allow the brain to oxygenate, which improves concentration, memory, and sharpness (combats brain fog). The sequences performed in this discipline require these skills to be performed correctly.
8. Improves the levels of arterial hypertension
This oriental discipline has very positive effects on the cardiovascular system and influences the regulation of emotions, which allows blood pressure to stabilize.
9. Meditate while moving
Meditation helps to clarify thoughts and improves concentration. It also reduces stress and anxiety, although some people cannot sit still enough to meditate.
In tai chi, this meditation is done in movement; that is, you are meditating, but you must be aware of the movements and present in the place and space where you are.
10. It is suitable for everyone
Anyone can practice tai chi. Children, older adults, young people, etc., can do it. It is an easy technique to follow with soft and slow movements whose strength progresses little by little.
There are many benefits to be obtained from its practice, so it has many followers, and more and more.
11. May promote weight loss
The thing is that after you have mastered the moves in tai chi, your metabolism improves, and so does the circulation.
When the metabolism increases, the body burns more at rest, and the improved circulation can also help the body pump the blood around the system more effectively.
What is Qigong?
Qigong (Qì Gōng, 氣功) can be translated as “work with vital energy.” Chikung, Chi Kung, Qigong, Qi Gong, is the same. Odd designations that also circulate, such as Chi Gong or Qi Kung, are incorrect.
Chinese culture does not have an alphabet like ours but uses ideograms: representation of ideas.
From the movements of Qigong, pictograms were formed, and from there, a multitude of Chinese ideograms represented since ancient times. So we can say that Qigong was born first, and from there came the written form of ideograms.
Qigong has been known by many names throughout Chinese history.
Historians and anthropologists agree in affirming, also due to several archaeological findings, that it emerged approximately in the Neolithic period, having its origin in shamanic traditions. Therefore, Qigong is approximately 4,000-5,000 years old.
There are various styles of Qigong: martial, Taoist, Confucian, Buddhist, therapeutic… But almost all movements are based on postures related to nature or animals.
It’s all in the energy
Qigong is an ancient practice used to regulate vital energy, improve physical and emotional health, and prevent diseases.
Qigong exercises are not without martial application. Some types of Qigong are applied to martial arts, such as Iron Shirt and Eagle Claw, specifically intended for combat.
However, Qigong is better known in the West as movements and work focused on providing health to the body and mind. Watch this video example…
It is a much more specific and specialized work in treating, preventing, strengthening, toning, healing. And especially in moving the energy or Chi through the internal meridians (network of channels that connect the fasciae with all organs, tissues, and cells).
Qigong can be practiced standing, sitting, lying down, and even has static postures (Zhan Zhuang) or dynamic. But all forms of Qigong are focused on improving health and calming the mind. You could say it is a moving meditation.
Qigong vs Tai Chi: Which one should I choose then?
Qigong vs tai chi: These are two forms of self-knowledge and control of the body, coordination, breathing, emotions, and thoughts; that is, meditation and health techniques.
Both disciplines are concerned with carrying out the three regulations: body, breath, and mind. Also, the mental intention is used to guide the vital energy through the body and the acupressure channels.
Although its movements hide martial applications, Tai chi can be practiced with a purely therapeutic objective. Both (Qigong and Tai Chi ) can be practiced by children, adults, seniors, or people with physical limitations.
Although I could not choose, given my love for both, I can recommend depending on the person’s objective. You can even try them both and see which one you like better.
However, if your goal is to learn a sequence of chained movements, and above all, you have time to dedicate to studying the postures or katas, I recommend tai chi.
Since its study is long, you have to understand the katas, memorize and coordinate a lot. So if you want a long-term technique and you are one of those who like to dedicate time and patience and put an end to what you have started, tai chi is for you.
If, on the other hand, you prefer to learn a few movements and repeat them a few times. For example, the ba duan jin has 8 postures. Each posture is repeated between 8 or 10 times (depending on the practitioner’s time that day).
If you want to improve your health and at the same time improve your concentration, memory, coordination, balance, and deepen your meditation, and you have little time to dedicate to the practice or study of the forms: Qigong is for you.
Qigong vs Tai Chi: Conclusion
Now that you know the differences between Qigong vs tai chi and what they’re all about think about your goal and how much time you can devote to practice.
Having that clear, you could now choose one. Although I repeat, if you have the desire and time and you like it, do not deprive yourself of either since each one is beautiful and effective in its own way.
It is important to emphasize that both disciplines are “alive,” that is to say, they are in constant evolution. It depends on the teacher, the style, the school… you will find that the same Taichi or Chikung has different nuances depending on who teaches it.
So the best thing to do is to look for a suitable place that you like to be taught. And do not look so much into whether one method is better than another.
The important thing is to learn and practice getting all the benefits (mental and physical) of the art you choose, and that is up to you.
Finally, it is necessary to clarify: I know people who have told me about it, and there are “instructors” who claim to teach this discipline: <<Taichikung>>, this discipline does not exist as such.
So if someone is going to teach you Taichikung, run away, because you will learn neither qigong nor Taichi.