What is Tai Chi:

Tai chi, it’s full name being ‘tai chi chuan or taijiquan’, is a captivating Chinese art, promoting health and vitality, which consists of a progression of relaxed graceful fluid movements. An identifiable feature of all styles of tai chi is that the movements are performed slowly and flow from one into the next without pause. The subtlety of the exercises is found in the slowness of the peaceful movements co-ordinated with the breath, promoting inner calmness, balance, co-ordination and vitality.

Millions of people all over the world practice tai chi daily and it is fast becoming the most popular exercise world-wide. It is a highly pleasurable and effective way to reduce stress and dispel mental and physical tension, while promoting health and vitality and helping to develop inner spiritual growth and creativity.

It has become well known in the West as a very effective health exercise, but tai chi is quite different from other forms of workout as it benefits the practitioner without the strenuous physical demands on the body required by other sports. Tai chi is now mostly practised as a spiritual and physical fitness system, but tai chi originated primarily as a martial art fighting system for self-defence.

Approximately 70% of all doctors’ visits for modern complaints have the onset of the problem caused by stress factors or blocked energy in today’s frantic life style. There are two ways energy gets blocked, either through an accident such as a broken limb or through internal unmanaged stress. Tai chi and qigong help us find our flow of life energy through the use of breathing and relaxed slow movements, we enable the mind, body and spirit to let go of tension or ‘dis-ease’ (lack of harmony) before it becomes a disease.


What is the difference between tai chi and qigong?

  1. Tai chi and qigong both originate from China and work with energy. Both are practised slowly. They have different movements, but tai chi movements can be practised individually as a qigong exercise.
  2. Qigong goes back thousands of years and is a health enhancing practice.
  3. Tai chi evolved much later and can be seen as a sophisticated style of qigong. It is, at it’s origin, a martial art and as it is performed slowly, it is a health enhancing practice too. Qigong is essentially a healing art.
  4. Tai chi is generally more complex and involves a series of moves known as forms. Tai chi forms can take months to learn and a lifetime to master. All tai chi teachers focus on the health aspect of tai chi, but only some on the martial art aspect.
  5. Tai chi requires more discipline than qigong. The position of your knees, feet and spine are all important for good tai chi form practice and results.
  6. Qigong is less rigid and easier to learn. It is often the practice of one single move with focus on the breath, repeated several times before moving on to the next move.
  7. Qigong is adaptable and suffers of injuries or disabilities can adapt the moves to their needs and even practice sitting down if necessary. Tai chi can also be adapted to sitting if required.


How to find a good tai chi teacher:

Finding the right tai chi teacher is not easy if you know nothing about tai chi. Here are some points to consider when selecting a tai chi teacher:

  1. Find a teacher with solid tai chi skills, having at least 5 years teacher training and many, many hours tai chi practice behind them.
  2. A teacher certified, member to a tai chi organisation or union such as the British Council for Chinese Martial Arts (BCCMA) and/or the Tai Chi Union of Great Britain (TCUGB).
  3. Tai chi lineage – a teacher should know about the lineage of their style.
  4. Attend a class and participate and see for yourself how you feel at the end of the session.
  5. Does the class cover the aspects of tai chi you are wishing to learn? (Health aspect or Martial arts aspect?)
  6. Do you like the people, dynamics and atmosphere in the class?
  7. Teacher explains good body alignments and basic tai chi principles.
  8. A teacher’s movements should be unified and connected, as well as smooth, relaxed and fluid.
  9. Teacher maintains a safe learning environment.